Back to overview

Referential housing type for the 21st century city: new typo-morphological strategies in Brussels

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author PorottoAlessandro, LedentGérald,
Project European Cities: Referential Housing Type
Show all

Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Title of proceedings ISUF 2020 Virtual Conference Proceedings
DOI 10.26051/0d-c0n0-4a31

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The hypothesis of this paper is that a specific urban identity can be traced back to the residential spaces of the city. The concept of referential housing type, definedas the archetypal and most ordinary residential type in a specific place throughout its urban history, is the most effective tool to disclose the identity of cities. Its benefits are threefold.It revealsthe socio-cultural character of a place, enables abetter understanding of other forms of housing,and sets a basic vocabularyfrom which it is possible to interpret new forms of housing.Utilizingthe case study of Brussels, this paper aims to adoptan innovative approach that can further investigate thetransformations and identity of cities. Although there can be a foundation type for each historical period, a city is characterized by a single referential type. Therefore, the referential type allows a dynamic analysis and understandingofthe built environment’s evolutionary mechanisms, providing a basis for addressing future changes. The referential type deals with both housing legacies and new housing typologies,which are designed to meet current challenges of sustainability and social changes. It can provide new suggestions for housing design, concerning, for instance, urban densification and living quality. The investigation of urban identitythusplays an important role in the design of the 21stcentury city.