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Redeveloping the city. Urban transformation and heritagization after the secularization of religious houses in Belgian towns at the dawn of the modern age (1773/1796-1860).

The suppression of all the religious houses in the Belgian towns between 1773 and 1796 contributed to a deep metamorphosis of the urban landscape. The phenomenon of secularization of public space and urban redevelopment after the demolition and reuse of convents buildings and churches never was the subject of a systematic architectural historical research. This project ambitions a double objective. The first concerns the actors and the concrete mechanisms of material and visual transformation of the secularized convents in the liberal towns. The second concerns the gradual awareness of the heritage value (heritagization) of reused religious houses, which seems to have been fed from the 1830s by new national identity narratives that include historic monuments as well as Catholic Revival. The research will focus on Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, three large towns in transformation, involving a broad array of archival, narrative, visual and material sources. The data will be implemented in a historical GIS (Geographic Information System) that will allow analysing the transformations on micro-level of buildings, meso-level of immediate environment, and macro-level of town. This four-years project will result in one PhD and offer many possibilities of future national and international research.
Date:1 Jan 2012 →  31 Dec 2015
Keywords:Architecture, Belgium, Nineteenth Century, Religion, Urbanism, Heritage, Urban history
Disciplines:Architectural engineering, Architecture, Interior architecture, Architectural design, Art studies and sciences