MAI NEWS n° 4 - 2016
Re-branding the MAI: an example of modern architecture

Re-branding the MAI - an example of modern architecture
As you may already know, MAI was included in the Brussels Biennale of modern architecture ( ). The building by René Aerts and Paul Ramon dates from 1954. For such an early example of post-war architecture the use of space and light and the façade with its different materials, varying depths fitting in well with older buildings are striking features. It is a rare example of modern architecture which largely preserves not just its structure, but many original fittings and furnishings. The building reflects a period of optimism, progress and internationalism in the run-up to EXPO 58, which we would do well to recapture at a time when globalization is under attack.

At a public meeting on 4 October at the MAI and two follow-up visits for the general public, an interesting narrative was presented in a booklet in English, French and Dutch entitled “Modernisms are shaping/shaking the city”. According to this narrative a reappraisal is occurring of a style of architecture associated with whole scale demolition of older buildings and property speculation. It was also a period of belief in technocrats and experts leaving little room for citizen participation in the drive to modernize. As stated in the booklet, all this “explains the vehement reactions against Modernism in the 1970s.

Now, half a century later, it is time for a more objective evaluation and appraisal” and “we are still talking about worthwhile architectural heritage that has great potential for the future”.

The MAI is not a classified building but its value and heritage are recognized. Hopefully for us the Biennale will not just be a one-off event. It has been followed by visits and discussions with academic and practicing architects with expertise in the period, representatives of the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites and organisers of cultural events and exhibitions.
From left to right, examples of modern architecture at 40 Rue Washington: Commission 3 and façade of the building in the nineties.

Magistrat Room
Hopefully we can put together an advisory group which can supervise both big projects such as cleaning the façade and work on the detail. A start will be made in the new year by a student who is doing her thesis on the building and who will gather all the necessary information and carry out an inventory.

We hope to make enough progress in the first half of next year to show results by the time of the European association summit by the end of May. We plan to organize a public meeting towards the end of July to involve local people, our stakeholders and the wider sphere of those in and around the EU institutions in partnership with the promoters of the Biennale on modernism.
Please watch this space and let us have any ideas for projects, sponsorship, expertise related to this process of restoring the Maison des Associations Internationales whilst respecting its heritage.

The MAI Team wishes you all a wonderful Christmas
with plenty of relaxation and enjoyment.

Fatima, Federica, Jocelyne, Omar, Odile, 
Stéphanie, Thierry and Tony
Events at MAI
  • 19/11, 1/12/2016: Formation «Protection » and «Travail et Aide sociale », Association pour le droit des étrangers (ADDE)
  • 26/11/2016: Assemble Générale, Fédération des maisons médicales (FMM)
  • 1-2/12/2016: Clean air working group meeting, European Environmental Bureau (EBB)
  • 05/12/2016: “Just Transition”, Transform! Europe
  • 13-14/12/2016 : Guidance Workshop, DG Environment
  • 14/12/2016: Comité de direction de la MAI
  • 17/12/2016: ACF Belgique - Le Champ freudien Formation, UFORCA
  • 19-21/12/2016: Life Session, MWH
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