Bill Addis

2017 Visiting Research Fellow

Fellows Architectural Engineering (æ-LAB) Mechanics of Materials and Constructions (MEMC) Brussels Heritage Lab (BREL)
  • Current position 2017 Visiting Research Fellow
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Independent scholar / Sustainable urban environments: built environment, material infrastructures / between September and December 2017

Bill Addis is an independent scholar. For 16 years he was an academic in the Department of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading in UK, specialising on construction materials and building design. For 15 years he was a Sustainability Consultant with the engineering consultancy Buro Happold, in London. During this time he compiled books on using reclaimed materials and design for deconstruction. For more than 30 years Bill Addis has been actively involved in the history of construction with the Institution of Structural Engineers History Study Group and the Construction History Society, in particular the history of structural engineering, building materials and construction techniques. He has published over 100 books, book chapters and papers on these themes. As editor of the peer-reviewed journals Construction History and Engineering History and Heritage, Bill has developed specific knowledge on heritage projects and built up a wide network of contacts throughout Europe.

The purpose of this fellowship will be to provide new insights for those architects, engineers and contractors engaged in conservation and extending the life of existing buildings to draw upon similar experience gained in the UK and other European countries. This will enable Brussels professionals to become benefit from best practice in other countries.

The fellowship project in Brussels especially relates to the priority theme on “Sustainable urban environments: built environment, material infrastructures.” By focusing on the materials that were used to construct our built environment and assessing their current value in reuse projects, sustainable solutions to retrofit the city are offered: less waste material, less resources to be used and avoiding heritage loss at the same time.

The project also touches on the other two priority themes. By maintaining the visual identity of buildings, the architectural culture of Brussels is preserved (thus offering an alternative for the maligned practice of ‘façadisme’ in Brussels). Public administrations like the Direction of Monuments and Sites can integrate the proposed strategies into their policy and administrative instruments on architectural heritage. As the reuse of building materials relies on on-site labour (more than on off-site material production), it enhances local labour and craftsmanship.

The main output would be to make available the information and experience gathered from various countries to professionals active in conservation and refurbishment in Brussels. This would take the form of guidance documents, case studies, published papers and books, and links to internet sites, including sites providing downloadable material. The information will be processed and assessed for its relevance to the Brussels context and its particular building culture. A further outcome is a script on how to use reclaimed building materials in refurbishment projects.

 The research will be carried out in collaboration with the research units SKAR, æ-LAB & MEMC.