Future-Proofing the Foundry
“Future-proofing in architecture seeks to extend the life of the historic built environment through the development of sensitive and thoughtful interventions.”
Brian Rich- principal at Seattle’s Richhaven Sustainable Preservation Architecture
Supported by research on modern approaches to heritage preservation and adaptation, this thesis explores the concept of Future-proofing the industrial architectural spaces of the Foundry “Compagnie des Bronzes“ in Molenbeek, Brussels. The built environment’s life on site is extended through the preservation of existing building fabrics and thoughtful interventions that will be informed by local contexts, the reuse of materials, and the use of new building technologies. The thesis also addresses Brussel’s loss of industry and the impacts on the site that Brusselisation has left in its wake. Brussels, as the headquarters of the EU and one of the most diverse populations in the world, is the perfect location to test new architectural concepts and lead by example. The proposed changes in the site fabric reverse the negative effects left on the surrounding building fabric through the anticipation of long-term developments and developing methods of adaptation.
A careful reprogramming of the Foundry transforms the spaces into a research and pioneering centre for sustainable architectural technologies with small-scale production and craft production spaces. The research and production undertaken focuses on the sustainability and craft aspect of production, experimenting with the inclusion of unique detailing within modularity. The spaces are no longer preserved for preservation’s sake, the architecture now supports the development of the city and plays with the idea of “building itself“. The project serves as a case study for the potential expansion of similar ideas- the return of the industry in cities in more sustainable and active spaces. The local influences from the past, present and possible future form the materiality and tectonic approaches, the concept of the passage of time in architecture reveals itself in the connections and interactions between the old and new, solid and void, light and dark. These revealed building structures and connections also showcase to the visitors the inherent beauty in deterioration and building in alignment with the site-specific contexts.