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December 2018 - 84 % of Brussels’ buildings were built before 1960

Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA) - Year of construction of built heritage

The Brussels Capital Region was urbanized in the course of the years. As at 1 January 2018, it had about 195 000 buildings on a territory of 161 km². But when were these buildings constructed? The answer can be found in the graphs below: 84 % of Brussels’ real estate dates from before 1962. The chronology of Brussels’ built heritage reflects the history of urbanisation in the Region.

 

Construction period of built heritage as at 1 January 2018
 

Source: Statbel (Directorate-general Statistics - Statistics Belgium) & Federal Public Service Finances – General Administration of Heritage documentation
 

40 % of the buildings in Brussels built before 1919

Brussels’ built heritage is much older than that of Belgium as a whole: 40 % of buildings in Brussels were built before 1919. The Brussels Region has a much higher number of buildings that date back to the early 20th century (1900-1918) than does Belgium as a whole: 45 000 buildings in Brussels date back to that period, representing 23 % of Brussels’ real estate in 2018. Only 8 % of real estate across Belgium date from the same period.

This situation is the result of the following historical events, in particular:

  • the development of Brussels in the Middle Ages (the Pentagon);
  • the urbanisation of Brussels and Belgian independence
     

Urbanisation in Brussels spread gradually beyond the second boundary of the city (the current boulevards of the ‘small ring road’). This process sped up in the late 19th century, and the city came to cover a large part of the first belt (see definitions in the text box below), creating a continuous urbanised belt nearly one kilometre wide[1].
 

45% of buildings in Brussels constructed between 1919 and 1960

53 000 buildings in Brussels date from between 1919 and 1945, representing 27 % of the existing real estate in Brussels. For Belgium as a whole, only 14 % of all buildings were built in that period. Moreover, 18 % of the Brussels built heritage (35 000 buildings) were built between 1945 and 1962.

These figures reflect the expansion of the first Brussels belt in the interwar period, followed by the development of the second ring (see definitions in the text box below). The latter reached the current boundaries of the Region around 1960[2].
 

16 % of buildings in Brussels constructed after 1960

By 1960, the Brussels territory had been largely urbanised. Hence, few buildings were erected after that year.

The current built heritage of Brussels comprises:

  • 9 % of buildings constructed in the 1960s and 1970s;
  • 4 % of buildings constructed in the 1980s and 1990s;
  • 3 % of buildings constructed in the 21st century.


These figures are much higher for Belgium as a whole: 23 % (1960-80), 16 % (1980-2000) and 9 % (2000-2017). Half of the Belgian built heritage thus dates from after 1960, as compared with only 16 % in Brussels.

 

Definitions

The data used come from the land register statistics on the built heritage and are calculated by the General Administration of Heritage Documentation (formerly known as the ‘kadaster/cadastre’, i.e. register) of the FPS Finances. They indicate the construction year for the various buildings within the Brussels Capital Region as at 1 January 2018. The buildings’ construction year designates, specifically, the year when the building was completed. The date of any renovation work is not taken into account.

The first and second ring refer to the division of the Brussels area into ‘belts’:

  • The first ring refers to the zone between the roads of the small ring and the middle ring, made up of the avenue Churchill/ Churchilllaan (in the south), the military roads (in the east: Général /Generaal Jacques, Meiser, Brand Whitlock, August Reyers, Général Wahis) and the railway tracks (in the west).
  • The second ring corresponds to the following districts: Anderlecht and Molenbeek past the West station, Oudergem/Auderghem, Sint-Agatha-Berchem/Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Laken North, Neder-Over-Heembeek and Haren, Evere, Ganshoren, Elsene/Ixelles past boulevard Général Jacques/Generaaal Jacqueslaan, Jette North, Schaarbeek past the boulevard Lambermont/Lambermontlaan, Ukkel/Uccle, Watermaal-Bosvoorde/Watermael-Boisfort, Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe/Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe/Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.

 

 

 Would you like to find out more?

More information about Brussels’ build heritage is available under the theme of “Land-use planning and real estate” on the website of the BISA.

More information about the structure of Brussels’ territory can be found on the Wijkmonitoring/Monitoring des quartiers (neighbourhood monitoring) site (FR).


Bibliography

ULB-IGEAT AND BRUSSELS-CAPITAL HEALTH AND SOCIAL OBSERVATORY, 2010. Regional fact sheet: Fiches communales d’analyse des statistiques locales en Région bruxelloise. 2010. Vol. 1. Prepared for the French Community Commission (COCOF).


1. See ULB-IGEAT and the Brussels-Capital Health and Social Observatory, 2010.

2. See ULB-IGEAT and the Brussels-Capital Health and Social Observatory, 2010.