Historic Brussels elevators can survive!

Historic Brussels elevators can survive!

Brussels Secretary of State Pascal Smet and Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne join forces to secure the future of many beautiful historic elevators

The facades of many old Brussels buildings hide many beautiful historic elevators. For a long time, it was feared that this heritage would disappear. Indeed, the mandatory modernisation of all Belgian elevators would have irrevocably damaged their historical, aesthetic and technical properties. Thanks to an initiative of Pascal Smet, the Brussels Secretary of State for Heritage, this can be avoided.

“When I became in charge of Brussels heritage, I became aware of the problems with old elevators from before 1958. Because of current safety standards they are in danger of disappearing or being damaged. This would be a real shame, because many of them are architectural gems. 
That is why I have asked, in consultation with Save Our Elevators asbl, Homegrade to make an inventory of these historic elevators. The aim is simple: after having inventoried them, we want to be able to modernise them and at the same time respect their historical value. The current federal regulations made this impossible, which is why we are working with the federal government to revise the legislation. The arrival of Pierre-Yves Dermagne (Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Employment) was important for this. He is aware of the problems and wants to help us revising the regulations in order to ensure that our many beautiful historic elevators can survive,” explains Pascal Smet.


“My administration and I are looking into the possibility of postponing the renovation deadline for historic elevators. I believe it is essential in order to save this heritage,” Pierre-Yves Dermagne tells.
“I have also asked my administration to enter into dialogue with the regions on the delivery of regional certificates proving the elevators’ historical value. This would give us more time to secure the historic elevators in the right way,” concludes the Deputy Prime Minister.

In 2020, Pascal Smet commissioned Homegrade (the consultancy and guidance centre for housing in the Brussels-Capital Region) and urban.brussels (the regional administration in charge of urbanism and heritage) to create an inventory of elevators with heritage value by the end of 2021. This task starts today and is based on the expertise that the non-profit organisation Save Our Elevators has acquired over the years. We are therefore launching a call for all owners of old elevators. They can ask to include their old elevator in the inventory and can obtain a certificate of recognition of its historical value by submitting an online form on the Homegrade website. The latter ensures that modernisation and respect for heritage go hand in hand.

“Homegrade has the privilege to carry out this project, in collaboration with urban.brussels, to reconcile respect for heritage and renovation of buildings. This inventory will be used to establish criteria for determining the historic value of the facilities and elements that need to be preserved. It will also raise citizens’ awareness of an underexposed and endangered heritage. At the same time, we will continue our main task: to advise Brusselers on housing. We are available to inform owners about the modernisation procedures and the registration in the inventory. But we are also inviting all Brusselers to report us the elevators and to contribute to the preservation of this remarkable heritage,” says Christophe Mouzelard, heritage adviser at Homegrade.


“Today is AN IMPORTANT DAY FOR THE OLD ELEVATORS!” says Frédéric Bequet of the non-profit association Save Our Elevators (*).  “We really welcome the historic elevator inventory project launched by the cabinet of Secretary of State for Heritage Pascal Smet and implemented by Homegrade and Urban Brussels. We invite all co-owners of old elevators to contact Homegrade and CONTRIBUTE to the inventory of this wonderful heritage !

Save Our Elevators is very pleased with the positive dynamic and the dialogue between the Region and the federal authorities. We hope that technical-legal solutions will be found in the coming months to ensure that the old elevators do not have to be demolished. If Brussels and the other major Belgian cities want to save this heritage, a tailor-made safety approach is needed. For this file, we are invoking collective intelligence. There are technical solutions that combine security and heritage preservation. Let us apply them for the common good.”

(*)Save Our Elevators is a civic association that aims to modernise the old elevators with respect for their heritage characteristics. 

We cannot afford to lose time. Elevators installed before 1958 must be modernised or, if not, have a derogation for their historical nature, proven by the Region, by 31 December 2022.De technische

The technical aspects

The adaptation to the standards involves, among other things, a risk analysis by an external technical control service. This standard analysis is not always adjusted to the specific characteristics of old elevators. Certain safety measures can significantly damage the specificities of the equipment and building in which it is located.

Federal legislation provides that historical value can be taken into account when adapting the elevator to the current standards. In that case, the external technical control service can perform a tailor-made risk analysis, for example by using the Kinney method. Alternative safety measures can be proposed to respect the heritage when modernising the elevator. These measures are directly related to the identified risks.

Contact us
Damiaan De Jonge Woordvoerder, Kabinet Pascal Smet
Nicolas Gillard Porte-Parole cabinet Dermagne
Frédéric Bequet Save Our Elevators
Damiaan De Jonge Woordvoerder, Kabinet Pascal Smet
Nicolas Gillard Porte-Parole cabinet Dermagne
About Pascal Smet

Brussels Government, Secretary of State for Urbanism and Heritage - European and International Relations - Foreign Trade - Fire fighting and Emmergency medical Assistance

Member of the Board of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC), responsible for Culture, Youth, Sport and Urban Policy

Pascal Smet
Koning Albert II laan 37 - 12de
1030 Brussel