Frederik Vandyck

Frederik Vandyck

Dr. ir. arch. Frederik Vandyck conducted postdoctoral research into the relationship between the economic fabric and the anatomy of cities in 2020-22. His doctoral dissertation 'Built to construct: learning from the architecture of construction workplaces in the Brussels-Capital Region' (2020) resulted from a joint PhD trajectory between the VUB Architectural Engineering department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the faculty of Design Sciences at the University of Antwerp. He obtained his degree as Master of Science in Architectural Engineering in 2016 and researches the thematics of the productive city, with a particular interest in the construction sector in the Brussels-Capital Region. Frederik took part in the Interdisciplinary Research Project Building Brussels in which he examined the historical and contemporary spatiality of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Brussels construction industry.

His PhD was funded by VUB Architectural Engineering.


PhD research

Built to construct: learning from the architecture of construction workplaces in the Brussels-Capital Region

Date2016 - 2020
SupervisorsInge Bertels, Ine Wouters and Michael Ryckewaert

The urban space of the Brussels-Capital Region, like many other cities, is dotted with remnants of a productive industrial past. The activities that took place there were generally not aimed at mass production for export, but at small-scale manufacturing in order to address the basic needs of the neighbouring city dwellers. As building contractors such as contractors, carpenters and merchants of building materials continue to meet the crucial demand for housing in an ever-growing city, their local anchoring must be safeguarded. Due to real estate dynamics, economies of scale and changing market conditions, the small-scale mixed urban fabric, in which the qualitative combination of various functions flourishes, is rapidly disappearing. As an operating base from which construction companies work, the redevelopment of industrial heritage also threatens to displace the fundamental expertise and skills that have traditionally maintained the city in a sustainable manner.

The ever-increasing levels of urban traffic congestion and unemployment rates these developments entail are persuading academics and urban planners increasingly of the need for a long-term local embedding of city-nourishing economic actors such as construction companies. Despite the observation that urban production predominantly leaves the city because of spatial incentives, it is precisely this dimension which appears to be lacking in the state-of-the-art literature. The present doctoral research therefore sets the architecture of the small-scale living-working fabric as an object of research in order to understand the spatial (adaptation) strategies of construction companies from a historical and contemporary point of view. Urban mapping, typo-morphological studies and in-depth interviews with urban entrepreneurs are deployed to empirically substantiate the infrastructural needs and locational logics of Brussels construction companies. On the basis of these insights, a policy-preparatory framework is developed in view to preserve the local anchoring of city-supporting productive enterprises.

This research was funded by VUB Architectural Engineering.

Master’s thesis

Can type as a base ingredient for mixed-use development strategies serve as a plausible tool for micro-central densification of Antwerp’s suburbs?

Date2015 - 2016
SupervisorsHaike Apelt and Stefan Braun

An outcome to the following research question is sought in a designerly research, resulting from a cooperative work between Quinten Dewinter and Frederik Vandyck; ‘Can type as a base ingredient for mixed-use development strategies serve as a plausible tool for micro-central densification of Antwerp’s suburbs?’. This work consists of a scientific research and an architectural design, that should be read as one entity and is written in order to be granted the master’s degree in ‘Master of Science in Architectural Engineering’ at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles and Bruface in the academic year 2015-2016. 'Triggering Suburbia' starts with the elaboration of the past and current discourse on the thematic of ‘suburbia’, ‘mixed-use development’ and ‘typology’, is followed by an in-depth analysis of existing types for the case of Antwerp and concludes with testing imposed goals, derived from the discourse, by design. The problematic contains the oppressing population growth for the city of Antwerp, in combination with the saturated historic centre and the reluctance towards further sprawl. Therefore, the strategy of intensifying existing or new micro-central places in the suburban fabric seems plausible. The process of intensification involves increased density and mixity. In order to generate diversity, the basic ingredients require to be thoroughly understood. As a type is the ‘end product’ of a process of generalisation, it here is taken as the basic ingredient for mixed development. Generalisation involves a well-chosen set of parameters in order to filter towards the very essence, a type. The current and historic understanding of ways of living or working in suburbia is the very start in composing this set of parameters. The following step is to objectively analyse the existing in order to classify and qualify the different types. When the type is obtained, a mix can come to life. Providing mixity, in combination with increased density, is the process of ‘urbanising the suburbs’ on well-chosen, micro-central places. Analysis has shown that this implementation is most feasible in large-scale greyfields, numerous in the Flemish suburbs. Therefore, the large industrial site of ‘Lageweg, Hoboken, Antwerpen’ is chosen to be the subject to the designerly research of the earlier discussed implementation. The research by design has mainly brought further that the thorough understanding of the qualities of the historic and existing suburban types, is essential to reduce the risk of sacrifising suburban qualities for urban densities. Goals for the parameters of the new are deeply rooted in the standards of the existing, so that the process of urbanisation has a positive impact for both.