Cities are made up of layers of passed-down history. They take shape layer upon layer, generation upon generation, project upon project. It is precisely this historical accumulation that lends the city its value and meaning. Previous generations have sometimes left us very rich and meaningful buildings, monuments or urban space. Today, almost all new architectural projects are ‘conversions’ of a given context. New projects not only make use of the existing built environment or add a new layer to it: they also revitalize the heritage. Henry Van de Velde’s Book Tower in Ghent is currently undergoing a thorough renovation and is being skilfully adapted to new needs. The Kazerne Dossin in Mechelen commemorates the deportations during the Second World War and keeps the past alive while questioning it through research and exhibitions on human rights.
(Maarten Liefooghe, Maarten Van Den Driessche)