Research project
Public Defence

Preserving suspended structures with light façades (1960-1980)

PhD thesis UCLouvain / EPFL

Giuseppe Galbiati
L. Stynen, P. de Meyer, BP Building, Antwerp, 1959-1963 (Progressive architecture 9/1961)
L. Stynen, P. de Meyer, BP Building, Antwerp, 1959-1963 (Progressive architecture 9/1961)

Suspended buildings are characterized by the brilliantand extremely delicate combination of hanging structures and light curtainwalls. This makes preservation an extremely challenging practice, particularlyin light of the ever-growing demands for energy efficiency and safety. From anhistorical point of view, suspended architecture mainly developed in the decades 1960s-1970s. After the 1980s,cable-supported solutions for buildings were gradually abandoned and hangingarchitecture was almost forgotten, even by contemporary historiography. Thefirst aim of the research project is knowledge production, starting to fill arecognized gap in the field of construction history. This acknowledgment ofhanging architecture’s qualities constituted the scientific basis for assessingits heritage value. At the same time, the lack of shared retrofitting guidelines in modern preservation and the absence of intervention methodsspecifically intended for light façades, made it clear the urgent need todevelop a cohesive approach, capable of integrating in a single process thermalimprovement and architectural conservation. Assuming the 15-year researchcarried out by the TSAM laboratory of the EPFL as a starting point, the secondaim of this thesis is to outline a methodological approach to preserve thecultural values of modern buildings, while meeting the main energy standards.In this sense, a multidisciplinary methodology is defined, consisting in astep-by-step process, including historical and architectural research,architectural design, heritage preservation, building physics and technology.


PhD thesis in a co-tutorship partnership between the UCLouvain, LAB Institute (professor Giulia Marino) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (professor Franz Graf), 2020-2023, research project supported by Swissuniversities.

Public Defense

Friday November 3, 2023 6.30 PM

Room AV-02 (ground floor)


Rue Wafelaerts, 47-51

B-1060 Bruxelles



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