Design & History

Key projects

CONSErvation of 20th century concrete Cultural Heritage in urban changing environments

Concrete heritage buildings from the 20th century are at risk, due to the late recognition of their value and the experimental use of materials and technologies. The research project CONSECH20 aims to develop a multidisciplinary approach for the conservation of concrete heritage buildings of the 20th century in a changing urban environment. Both social and technical aspects are being considered in the research.  

Further information

Digital Research Environment European Colonial Built Heritage

Building a Digital Research Environment as a Tool to Enhance Trans-national and Comparative Research on European Colonial Built Heritage (1850-1970)

This project envolves building a multilingual repository containing digitised resources (printed material, still and moving images, archives) about European architecture and town plans realised in European colonies from 1850 until 1970.

The rationale for this project is that although since the 1980s various studies on European colonial architecture and urbanism built between 1850 and 1970 have been produced, the emergence and significance of colonial modern architecture and planning in a national and international context is often missing. In this respect research on colonial architecture and urbanism greatly lays behind other historical studies. To overcome the geographic, economic and language barriers that are the predominant causes of this hiatus – separating researchers and their resources – an open access multilingual digital repository will be constructed that facilitates online access to digitised sources.

Further information

NWO - Investment Subsidy Medium
Grant: € 510.000
Role: coordinator
Principal Researcher: Cor Wagenaar, Pauline van Roosmalen
Duration: 09/2011 to 09/2014 

Enhancing Self-Healing Of Mortars By Built-In Crystallization Inhibitors

Salt crystallization is one of the most diffused decay factors of building materials in a wide range of environments. Historic buildings are most in danger, due to salt accumulation over time. The high salt load is also a severe threat for new plasters and mortars used for restoration and repair. Restoration mortars on the market show a limited durability to salt decay and a low compatibility with the existing fabric.

Self-healing mortars
In this project Van Hees and Lubelli will try to tackle this problem by the development of self-healing mortars, able to react to the crystallization process at the very moment of damage initiation, i.e. by a responsive chemical reaction. This could be very promising and the innovative approach may have spin-off to other materials like concrete in roads, bridges and buildings that are suffering from damage due to de-icing salts as well. Self-healing mortars will lead to a considerable improvement of construction materials, prolonging service life by enhancing durability and promoting sustainability.

Agency NL (Agentschap NL)
IOP Self-Healing Materials Program
Grant: € 325.000, acquired in 2012
Role: coordinator
Principal Researcher: Rob van Hees, Barbara Lubelli & Sanne Granneman
Duration: 3/2013 to 3/2017  

Restoration Of The Monument Of Maarten Tromp

Old Church in Delft

The monument of Tromp, completed in 1658, in the Old church in Delft, is one of the most relevant funeral monuments in the Netherlands. A survey of the monument, carried out in 2009, showed the presence of severe structural and material damage. A mirror commission with experts from different fields was set up to support the restoration work. Dr. Barbara Lubelli was invited to take part to this committee, as expert in the field of salt damage in porous materials. In the past months the monument was dismantled, restored and reassembled. In October 2013 the monument has been re-opened to the public.

Government Buildings Agency
Role: member of the commission
Principal Researcher: Barbara Lubelli
Duration: 2010-2012 

Rietveld’s Universe

Research Exhibition and Research & Editing Publication 'Rietveld’s Universe'

This engrossing exhibition sets out to challenge some preconceptions. Its premise is that Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) is still primarily thought of for just two early designs, the Red Blue Chair (1918/23) and the Schröder House (1924), and that much of his long career is overlooked. Rietveld’s Universe almost refrains from giving star billing to the house and chair. Organised thematically rather than chronologically, with displays devoted to such subjects as ‘Liberating Space’ and ‘Simplicity and Experiment’, it absorbs them both into a larger narrative. Published alongside the exhibition, the book Rietveld’s Universe explores his career and critical reception in a dozen essays.

Centraal Museum Utrecht
Grant: € 90.000
Role: Coordinator/partner
Principal Researcher: Marie-Thérèse van Thoor
During: 2010 

Research programme

Further information about the research programme Design & History.