Exploring the archive of contractor Louis De Waele

Project files © Company Archive Les Entreprises Louis De Waele

SOBYBEL in Laken by architect Jacques Saintenoy (1940s) © Company Archive Les Entreprises Louis De Waele

Scheme indicating the weight of a crane to be carried © Company Archive Louis De Waele

Detail of the timber truss, villa De Waele (1920s) © Company Archive Louis De Waele

Timber finishing of interior of Hôtel Plaza by architect Michel Polak (1929) © Company Archive Louis De Waele

In 1866 Louis De Waele, together with his brother Jean, started a joinery and carpentry in Brussels that would soon turn into the general contracting firm ‘Louis De Waele’ and still operates today under the name ‘Les Entreprises Louis De Waele’.

The company has preserved its project files from 1910 in a systematic way. The archive also contains older files (1890s-1910s) if transformations were carried out.  Jelena Dobbels and Ine Wouters made, together with master student Soheil Esgandarzadeh, an overview of the projects constructed in the period 1910s-1980s. They pay special attention to the actors and subcontractors involved to unravel the network of this Brussels-based contractor to reconstruct his project portfolio.

The most complete project files contain the plans of the architect, the building specifications, the calculations of the structure by an engineering firm, orders of stone, the drawings of the window frames, elevators and ventilation systems. We also encounter very specific contractor documents, such as the planning of the construction, drawings of the scaffolds or a scheme of the weight a crane can carry. From time to time we discover original perspective drawings by the architect. For all timber elements and furniture, 1:1 sketches are added, which indicates that joinery and carpentry continued to be important for Les Entreprises Louis De Waele.