Hidden modernity: reinforced concrete trusses in Brussels parish churches (1935-40)

Romain Wibaut, Thomas Coomans, Ine Wouters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

1 Citation (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


In the 1920s, modernist and Art Deco architects experimented enthusiastically with new materials, designs and ornaments. In the Brussels Capital Region several modernist churches were built entirely in reinforced concrete and decorated with abstract forms. In the following decade, however, because of the economic crisis and the stagnation of the construction sector, traditional design and styles took over again. New technologies and reinforced concrete were still used, but they were hidden. This paper focuses on the less studied churches from the late 1930s, which turned their back to modernism and combined Romanesque forms and regional characters. Based on fieldwork, archive and literature study, this paper contributes to understanding the technical use and esthetical context of reinforced concrete in church construction in the late inter-war period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding Knowledge, Constructing Histories
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Sixth International Congress on Construction History (6ICCH), Brussels, Belgium, 9-13 July 2018
EditorsIne Wouters, Stephanie Van de Voorde, Inge Bertels, Bernard Espion, Krista De Jonge, Denis Zastavni
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-50620-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-58414-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event6th International Congress on Construction history - Palais des Académies, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 9 Jul 201813 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameBuilding Knowledge, Constructing Histories


Conference6th International Congress on Construction history
Abbreviated title6ICCH
Internet address


  • 20th century
  • Brussels (Belgium)
  • Church
  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Roof Construction


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