It is not only architects, urban planners and industrial designers who shape the environment that surrounds us. Contractors, engineers, craftspeople, suppliers and other actors also have an impact in this area. Under the theme of the building industry, the VAi maps out their heritage.
Together with researchers and heritage preservers, the VAi decided in 2015 to do some catching up in terms of the heritage work on the building industry. That heritage consists of archives as well as objects and intangible heritage, such as knowledge about the relevant trades. We want to better map out the heritage that is preserved about these actors, offer support regarding archive preservation, and raise awareness among companies, researchers and the general public.
The VAi is looking for archives of contractors – from small one-person businesses to large construction companies – in order to further map out the archival field. If you have any questions or are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The VAi also joined the Corporate heritage platform of the ETWIE expertise centre.
In September 2017 the Centre for Flemish Architectural archives (CVAa) and the Architectural Archives of the Province of Antwerp (APA) presented a surprising selection of building site photographs from the Architectural Archives, now the collection of the VAi. The exhibition BUILDING SITE! showed the builders in action and gave them a face. It offered a unique view of the building sites of well-known and lesser-known Antwerp buildings from the twentieth century.More info
Contractors, engineers, craftspeople and suppliers have also had an enormous impact on the way in which our built environment was created. However, little is known so far about the way in which the building industry evolved, the techniques and materials used and the importance of the building industry for the economy. While a building is often associated with an architect, the people who construct it often remain anonymous. The temporary nature of a building site reinforces this further.
In the heritage field, this has revealed a number of sore points: for example, there is a lack of knowledge about the building industry and its cultural heritage is underrepresented in the archives. Furthermore, construction companies are not always aware of the value of their archives and there is not yet a comprehensive vision for dealing with this heritage. The Construction Confederation currently has 15,000 contractors as members. So there is potentially a lot of historical information available.
In 2017, we published advice pages to provide construction companies with information on the dos and don’ts of archive management. Since then, we have integrated these pages into an advice section for architects, designers and construction companies.
Would you like to get started with your archive and documentation? Then be sure to take a look!
The VAi collected several starting points from which to start researching the building industry. In this advice section you will find information on the actors who were active in this field and their archives, as well as other tools.