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Move to protect Brussels' historical lifts from modernisation

One of Brussels's historical elevators (BELGA PHOTO)
08:51 25/02/2021

The old lifts that are still found in many buildings in Brussels can be considered part of the architectural heritage of the Brussels region, according to the city’s secretary of state for urbanism and heritage.

To protect them from mandatory modernisation, Pascal Smet announced on Wednesday that an inventory of these lifts and their whereabouts in the capital will be compiled. This is a first step towards a procedure to protect the lifts and their history, which is being developed in cooperation with the federal minister of economy and labour Pierre-Yves Dermagne.

The current royal decree stipulates that lifts dating back to before 1958 must be modernised by the end of 2022. Doing this, however, would rob them of their historical value. To avoid this, Pascal Smet and Pierre-Yves Dermagne have begun consultations in an attempt to amend the royal decree.

A modernisation of these lifts is possible without modifying them, via a specific approach where special attention is paid to such objects, which have become architectural jewels in the city’s cultural crown. The difficulty lies in the security regulations which now differ dramatically from when these lifts were first installed. Many historical lifts do not meet the standard list of safety criteria.

"We will allocate a budget of €159,000 to take stock of all the old elevators we have in the Brussels municipalities," said Pascal Smet. The inventory will be compiled by the homegrade.brussels department and will serve as the basis for granting elevators a certificate of historical value. In this way, they can be exempt from mandatory modernisation.

Brussels residents who have this type of lift can also report it themselves via the homegrade.brussels website. The Brussels region has some 700 lifts dating back to before 1958.

Written by Nick Amies