Brussels Biennale of Modern Architecture

October 2016

bbma_2016_affiche_websiteThe second edition of the Brussels Biennale of Modern Architecture wants to highlight post-war architecture. The double title Modern isms are shaping the city / Modern isms are shaking the city indicates to what extent the Belgian capital underwent a metamorphosis after the Second World War: the historical urban fabric was replaced by large-scale infrastructure and new buildings, and certain residential quarters disappeared completely in favour of city motorways and business districts. All these projects coincided with the preparation of the 1958 Brussels World Fair, focusing on progress and a new world. Experiments with novel materials and an abundant use of colours showed a belief in progress while high-rise buildings were conquering the skyline.

Residential architecture also changed. The De Taeye Act encouraged families to build their own house and they did so in the rural areas outside the city centre or in the countryside. Others preferred to reside in stylish apartment buildings, with to this day Brusilia being one of the iconic examples.

Nowadays post-war modernism does not get the full credit it deserves – not in the least because the use of new materials and techniques made the buildings deteriorate quickly. Consequently most of these buildings were given a facelift and lost their original look and unique concept. It is thus necessary to emphasize the cultural value and touristic potential of this young heritage – even more where original interiors have survived and can be appreciated today. After all, these buildings are much more than an expression of style or an innovative use of materials: they are also important from a social and economical point of view. The buildings that are still preserved in their original condition are true historical monuments, and entering them feels like entering another era. This biennale wants to create public awareness to point out how precious these buildings have become.

More info at