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300 historic lifts in Brussels are given special protection

15:28 13/02/2023

An estimated 300 historic lifts and counting have been certified as part of Brussels’ cultural heritage.

These old lifts were in danger of being demolished under new rules to modernise such infrastructure in the Belgian capital, which was why the city’s state secretary of heritage Pascal Smet sought to issue special exemptions.

“Behind the facades of many old Brussels buildings lie beautiful historic lifts,” Smet’s office explained.

“This often forgotten heritage was in danger of disappearing for a long time. Imposed modernisation of all Belgian lifts would irrevocably damage their historical, aesthetic and technical properties, much to the fear of many heritage lovers and (co-)owners of these historic lifts.”

Together with Brussels labour minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne,, and non-profit organisation Save Our Elevators, an inventory of lifts with heritage value was drawn up.

At the same time, new federal regulations were created to accommodate exemptions for the modernisation.

Owners of historic lifts with a certificate designating their cultural value have until the end of 2027 to adapt their lifts to a new standard specifically designed to measure them, rather than lumping them in with all other lifts.

“I am obviously immensely proud that we have saved Brussels' historic lifts and thank everyone who has contributed to this,” Smet said.

“This is a gift from us to all future generations of Brussels residents – and that we can realise this in the Brussels Art Nouveau year makes it extra beautiful.”

Brussels' 300th officially historic lift has just been granted protection in a building on Chaussée d'Anderlecht in the city centre.

Geertje Milis, a decades-long resident of the building to receive the honorary 300th certificate, told Bruzz that she had long dreamed of living in a building with such a charming and historic lift.

“The house and the Otis brand lift were built in 1927,” Milis said.

“In all the time I have lived here, I have never been stuck, and neither have the other occupants of the property. It may not be the prettiest lift - the decorations are kept to a minimum - but it is the most reliable and efficient.”

The inventory of all lifts with historical value can be viewed publicly online.

Smet has asked that anyone who owns or co-owns a lift with historical value that is not yet on that list please contact the Brussels region via an online form to ensure their lift is likewise protected.

Written by Helen Lyons