- Brusselization is a term that describes the indiscriminate and careless introduction of modern high-rise buildings into gentrified neighborhoods. Beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the 1980s, the construction of new office towers and modern hotels and apartment blocks introduced new functional and aesthetic elements in Brussels, including large building sizes and industrial materials such as steel, reinforced concrete, chrome, and glass that stood in stark contrast to the city's traditional architectural landscape.Brusselization was driven by a laissez-faire approach to city planning, which featured a lack of detailed and enforced zoning regulations, the desire of municipal authorities to cater to national political interests at the expense of local residents, disagreements among the 19 communes of the agglomeration, and ineffective preservation programs.A byword employed by both Belgian and foreign planners to define haphazard urban development and redevelopment, brusseliza-tion has left the city with a townscape that incongruously juxtaposes historic buildings with modern office blocks, for example, around the Cité Administrative and the Théâtre royal de la Monnaie. Ongoing construction, much of it spurred by the city's role as host of the European Union, coupled with the loss of landmark buildings, notably Victor Horta's Maison du Peuple in 1965, sparked growing demands that metropolitan officials disallow unregulated development projects. Environmentalists and preservationists formed action groups, including the Ateliers de Recherche et d'Action urbaines, to save and renovate noteworthy sites. Notably, construction of the IBM tower elicited mass protests in 1978. In 1993, urban heritage laws were enacted that outlawed demolition of architecturally and historically significant buildings. Authorities in a city development plan of 1999 declared high-rise buildings to be incompatible with the architectural aesthetics of the city center.See also Architecture.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.