Willy Van Der Meeren’s Ieder Zijn Huis: Saving a Fragile Giant


  • Maurizio Cohen





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


The project for the renovation of the Willy Van Der Meeren apartment building known as Ieder Zijn Huis [“A House for Everyone”], in Brussels, raises a question that is crucial for the conservation of modern work using prefabrication techniques. The debate focuses on the original design and construction values, and above all on how best to keep them alive and contemporary despite the building's age and changing standards and techniques. In the wording of the renovation specifications, the project owner — the public company Beliris — laid stress on the importance of preserving the architectural qualities: “Given the building's importance in the architectural heritage, the renovation must reflect the original ideas of the designer, Willy Van Der Meeren”. The point of the call for tenders was to establish an approach for the work that conserves the structure's architectural principles in terms of appearance and structural articulation, while making renovated apartments available that meet today's standards. The architecture firm Origin decided to focus on the building's values and on the comfort and convenience of the accommodation, while pursuing further the conceptual direction taken by the original designer. This meant exploring all the building's architectural and structural aspects in order to successfully showcase its qualities.

How to Cite

Cohen, M. (2016). Willy Van Der Meeren’s Ieder Zijn Huis: Saving a Fragile Giant. Docomomo Journal, (54), 66–71. https://doi.org/10.52200/54.A.JG9AW7GL




Author Biography

Maurizio Cohen

(b. 1964, Italy). Architect graduate of the Politecnico di Milano in 1989, living in Brussels since 1993. Practitioner, critic, journalist and exhibition organizer, he teaches at the University faculties of architecture of Brussels (La Cambre — Horta, ULB) and Liege (ULG). He is the author of several books on contemporary and modern architecture in Belgium and regularly writes in the Belgian and international architectural press. He is a member of the board of docomomo Belgium.


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