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Historic lifts in Brussels given grace period for modernisation

Historic lifts in Brussels
16:26 02/06/2022

Brussels’ unique and historic lifts will have until 2027 to modernise, giving owners a period of grace when it comes to adapting to new regulations. 

Under existing rules, lifts installed before 1958 must be modernised by 31 December 2022. But many of the standards used in these regulations would irreversibly damage the historical, aesthetic and technical characteristics of the lifts, says Brussels secretary of state for town planning and heritage Pascal Smet.

Lift

These old lifts will now fall under an adapted regulatory framework intended to protect their historical value and preserve these unique pieces of Brussels’ heritage. 

“We’re avoiding a gigantic historical mistake. Brussels, but also other Belgian cities, have many beautiful historic lifts. It would be a shame if these had to disappear,” Smet said in a statement. 

“Fortunately, in a very constructive cooperation with my federal colleague Pierre-Yves Dermagne, we were able to put a stop to this just in time.”

The adapted regulations will apply to over 800 lifts in the city that are deemed historic, but Smet urged owners who haven’t yet registered theirs to do so quickly, as only the lifts that have been formally inventoried will fall under the adapted regulations.

“These monumental staircases with lifts in the middle are all wonderful examples. They bear witness to an undeniably rich heritage,” said deputy prime minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne. 

6Ascenseurs_anciens_Jerome_Bertrand_2

“It was essential to find a solution that would reconcile respect for this rich heritage with the safety requirements of these lifts.”

The aim of the adapted regulations is to guarantee the safety of users and maintenance technicians without compromising the heritage value of the lift, which is done by allowing for the use of alternative technologies, such as electronic security systems. 

The Save Our Elevators collective, which has been highlighting the possible disappearance of Brussels' historic lifts for some time now, called the adapted regulations “a first important victory.”

Photos: Pascal Smet’s office, third image Jerôme Bertrand

Written by Helen Lyons