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  • Writer's pictureSam Morgan

View from Brussels: Great Restorations

Weekly column from Brussels on engineering and technology issues

A wave is about to hit Europe: a building renovation wave. Given the job losses caused by Covid-19 and the change needed to hit climate goals, it is well timed.

On board the Eurostar when arriving in Brussels, the first thing passengers see is the looming shape of the city’s Justice Palace, a monstrously large building with a dome reminiscent of St Peter’s in Rome.

Unlike the seat of the Catholic church though, the Justice Palace is covered in scaffolding, and has been for decades. Construction crews even recently started refurbishing the scaffolding itself as there is no end in sight for the works.

It is a good illustration of Europe’s big bad building problem. Existing edifices are often difficult and expensive to renovate and bring up to code; new builds are easier to regulate and get right during the design phase.

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