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HABITER Study center in Development, Territory and Landscapes

HABITER is the Study Center in Development, Territory and Landscape which, within the ULB's Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta, is engaged with the study of landscape, urban and territorial transformation dynamics in the North as well as in the South of the world.   Its activities are focused on cooperation and development issues at large, with an ecological and cultural approach to sustainability and context.   HABITER was created in June 2013, as a step in the development of research activities within the Faculty of architecture; a process started with the creation of the Center of Associated Labs for Research in Architecture CLARA in January 2011, and the unification of the two former superior institutes for architecture ISACF-La Cambre (founded 1927) and ISAI-Victor Horta (founded 1711 as Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and their integration in the university in 2010.   HABITER develops its research activities in close link to the two other pillars of the university's mission: teaching and service to society.   The members of HABITER explore the rationales of spatial and societal transformations of urban and non urban spaces, trough the peculiar tools of architecture, urban and landscape design, supported by the input of connected disciplines such as the Humanities, the Social, Natural and Engineering Sciences.   The works developed within HABITER target fields such as cultural heritage, urban services, landscape, energy transition, local governance, sustainable neighbourhoods, etc. seen as the indicators and drivers of the ongoing developments and changes within cities and territories nowadays. The approach developed within HABITER is context- and scale-specific ' from the architectural object to the urban, landscape and territorial systems ' and turns its attention to the existing or required socio-political, technical, and spatial devices able to guarantee innovative forms of development, in relation to the rising frames of reference in regional planning, governance, landscape and ecological urbanism.

LoUIsE - Landscape, Urbanism, Infrastructures and Ecologies

LoUIsE - Laboratory on Landscape, Urbanism, Infrastructures and Ecologies - is focusing on the dynamics of transformations of metropolitan territories. LoUIsE is based in the Brussels-Capital Region. The research goes beyond the discipline of urbanism to take on environmental, infrastructural, and social issues concerning cities and urban territories in the larger sense. Affiliated members are indeed convinced it is flows, networks, and infrastructures that make up the global framework from which urbanism's contemporary territories are organized. Research in LoUIsE laboratory takes shape first and foremost through research made in the context of doctoral and postdoctoral theses, financed by the National Scientific Research Fund, the regional initiative Innoviris and the European Regional Development Fund.


2013-2015. RECHERCHE POSTDOCTORALE: Marco Ranzato, Integrated water design for the Brussels Capital Region. Scenarios and models of water flows decentralization for enhancing the urban landscape of Brussels

PROSPECTIVE RESEARCH FOR BRUSSELS fellowhsip (PRFB; Innoviris,; Faculté d'architecture La Cambre Horta, centre de recherche HABITER + Centre des Laboratoires Associés pour la Recherche en Architecture CLARA / unité de recherche LOUISE; supervisor: LUISA MORETTO; co-supervisors: CORRADO DIAMANTINI, Università di Trento'DICAM; SYBRAND TJALLINGII, TU-Delft; MARIA CHIARA TOSI, Università IUAV di Venezia), Budget: 270.000 '.

MODSCAPES - Modernist reinventions of the rural landscape

MODSCAPES explores rural landscapes produced by large-scale agricultural development and colonisation schemes planned in the 20th century. This transnational research project investigates 11 case studies across Europe and beyond.

At first sight, there is a contradiction between ‘modernist’ and ‘rural’. Yet throughout the 20th century, many European States imagined, adopted and implemented large scale development and agricultural schemes to modernise the countryside: parliamentary as well as fascist regimes, socialist republics or colonial powers. Today, there are thousands of modernist farms, hamlets, villages and towns in Europe and beyond, where several million inhabitants live or have lived.

Modernist rural development schemes were pivotal to Nation- and State-building policies, and to the modernization of the countryside. They provided a testing ground for the ideas of scientists, architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects and artists, who converged around a shared challenge.


MODSCAPES aims to explore, document, and raise awareness around this largely underestimated shared cultural heritage, which has seldom been the topic of international and interdisciplinary research.

MODSCAPES introduces the concept of landscapes as a unifying paradigm between tangible (the built environment) and intangible legacies (the related cultural and sociopolitical contexts) to bridge the gap between research, practice and policies through a trans-disciplinary approach.

ADCP: Agricultural Development and Colonization Schemes
ADCS: Agricultural Development and Colonization Policies
MRL: Modernist Rural Landscapes

2013-2018: «Local Capacity Building for Sustainable Urban Development of Small Regional Towns in Ethiopia: the Case of Amdewerk»

Cooperation and development research project, CUD program 2013, Belgian partners: LUISA MORETTO (HABITER), OSWALD DELLICOUR (HABITER), JAN BOGAERT (Gembloux AGRO-BIOTECH, ULg), PHILIPPE BOUILLARD (Faculté des sciences appliquées ' école polytechnique, dép. BATir-AIA, ULB); local partners: FISSEHA WEGAYEHU (EiABC: Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development ' Université d'Addis Ababa). Budget: 547.000 '.To respond to the lack of planning and research on small towns in Ethiopia, the project aims to develop, form one side, research capacities within the EiABC (Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction & City Development) and, form the other side, to create a multidisciplinary planning Laboratory that will operate as an interface between academic researchers, decision-makers for small towns' planning and local communi-ties. The research project funds 4 PhD theses on small towns development ' with a particular focus on the ca-se of the Amdewerk ' that will have a multidisciplinary character, including social, economic, demographic, environmental components, and will thus benefit from the participation of numerous and disciplinary different research units in Belgium and Ethiopia.

Water urbanism

Worldwide, urban areas are being challenged to improve the conventional stormwater management regime (i.e. the totality of beliefs, rules and practices that guide water management activities). Illustrated as the Water Sensitive City, the envisioned new regime aims to solve water problems, to adapt to future uncertainties (e.g. increase of extreme events), to create a more liveable urban environment and to reflect the aspiration of the community related to water. Brussels-Capital Region (BCR) is a representative case for experiencing a transition towards a WsC. This research explores the hypothesis of how alternative actions contribute to a transition in the water regime in dense urban areas with a low level of water-related hazards by investigating different case studies located in BCR. The capacity of alternative actions to trigger changes in the regime is conditioned by the processes that produce them and by their influence on the emergence of subsequent actions. More specifically, the co-production of alternative actions provides viable solutions to current challenges and sets the conditions for trying the principles of the new regime in a particular context. The new stormwater management regime that favours this process relies on an adaptable infrastructure, as well as a different type of practice of who plans, designs, constructs and manages this new infrastructure, and how.  

2014-2016 : « Observatory for Innovative Practices » (oPI)

Within the framework of the Alliance Emploi Environnement, Brussels Environment (BE) has entrusted AED (Habiter Research Center, ULB) to establish a research unit devoted to identify and disseminate innovative practices in sustainable construction in Brussels-Capital. Thus AED (bd) launched an ''Observatory of Innovative Practices'' (OPI). The research focuses on real cases (buildings winners of ''Batex'' calls for projects launched between 2007 and 2013 in the Brussels-Capital Region and actually built since). The purpose of this research is to support the dissemination of innovative building practices to the active actors in the field of sustainable construction in RBC. The object of the research is based on field experiences available in RBC to document, analyze and evaluate these innovative practices in projects underway or completed. This information feedback will be structured by the periodic production of reports available to the actors and operators in the sector. Is specifically targeted the transfer of information towards clusters (especially for SOHO and SMEs), training and research. To do this, the mission takes place in the framework of a partnership established by BE with CSTC, the CCB-C, the Ecobuild Cluster, Innoviris and CDR. The committee ''oPI'' also participates in the editorial committee set up to feed the Sustainable Building Portal. oPI has 2 researchers halftime, with an annual budget of ± ' 100,000. It was initiated in January 2015 and will end in December 2016. (referent: BERNARD DEPREZ, CHIRAZ BEN DAKHLIA, FONSECA RANGEL DJENABO).

2016-2019: MODSCAPES : modernist reinventions of the rural landscape (European collaborative project)

MODSCAPES deals with new rural landscapes produced by large-scale agricultural development and colonization schemes (ADCS) implemented in the 20th century throughout Europe and beyond. Conceived in different political and ideological contexts, the underlying agricultural development and colonization policies (ADCP) were pivotal to Nation-building and State-building, and to the modernization of the countryside. Such policies and schemes provided a testing ground for the ideas and tools of agronomists, environmental and social scientists, architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects and artists, which converged around a shared challenge. Their implementation produced modernist rural landscapes (MRL) which have seldom been considered as a transnational research topic.ADCP and ADCS had, and still have an impact on peoples' lives as individuals and communities, but are largely ignored by mainstream scholarship and policies in the field. As time passes, buildings and landscapes deteriorate, and the people who lived in them as they developed die out, so that MRL become more increasingly difficult to understand as unique forms of cultural heritage