Sprouted all around: The emergence and evolution of housing estates in Brussels, Belgium

Rafael Costa, Helga De Valk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The purpose of this study is to investigate the socioeconomic evolution of large housing estates in Brussels, Belgium, in particular their role in shaping residential segregation in the city. As in many European countries, modernist and functionalist ideas of the mid-twentieth century led to the raising of large housing estates in Brussels, in an attempt to offer middle-class households affordable yet modern and comfortable dwellings. However, contrary to other countries, the development in Belgium was marked by general housing policies that promoted homeownership, with limited investment in social housing, and a lack of laws and political vision related to spatial planning Whereas some public ensembles were conceived by modernist architects, most of Brussels’ large housing estates were built by private contractors in peripheral neighbourhoods and were aimed at homeownership of the lower middle class. In this chapter, we first present a brief historical perspective of the policies, ideologies and territorial processes that made it possible for housing estates to develop and spread in Brussels. Next, we analyse how large housing estates evolved since the 1990s in terms of socioeconomic composition and the role they play in segregation. We finally discuss the challenges, current perspectives and political awareness with respect to large housing estate. Our findings point out that Brussels’ housing estates are spatially scattered and have only a limited impact on the concentration of deprivation and foreign nationals. However, the trends identified in our study indicate that housing estates can become important socioeconomic fractures at the local level.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHousing Estates in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationPoverty, Ethnic Segregation and Policy Challenges
EditorsDaniel Hess, Tilt Tammaru, Maarten van Ham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-92813-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-92812-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameThe Urban Book Series


  • Belgium
  • Brussels
  • Housing estates
  • Housing policies
  • Public housing
  • Residential segregation


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