Our Daily Heritage

Conflicts and Opportunities When Renovating Residential Buildings Listed as Monuments


  • Lidwine Spoormans TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


In the Netherlands there are few people who build their own homes. The majority of the population lives in a house that was built in the past. Designed and made with different ideas, for families with different wishes and habits to ours. The adaptation of homes for current times is therefore normal and necessary, and is a continuous process. In his book How to Make a Home, Edward Hollis compares the way in which people occupy a house with a cuckoo’s habits.1 This bird has made a speciality of taking possession of another bird’s nest and adapting it to its own needs. People alter, decorate and furnish in order to turn the house they encounter into a personal little nest.

However, other rules apply when this concerns a special ‘nest’. If a dwelling or residential building is listed as a monument, it is protected in the public interest because of its cultural-historical value. A home with a monumental status cannot simply be altered to meet contemporary residential preferences without further ado; the building (or sections of it) are ‘frozen’ in the past. This seems to be incompatible with the human desire to modify and appropriate a home. Does protected status stand in the way of habitation?

Author Biography

Lidwine Spoormans, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Lidwine Spoormans (b. 1977) trained as an architect and construction technologist at Delft University of Technology and studied at the Arkitekthøgskolen in Oslo. As an architect she worked at biq stadsontwerp on new buildings and on the renovation of large-scale housing projects. She subsequently set up Studio LS, an office for design and research assignments in architecture and transformation. She has been a teacher and researcher at the Heritage & Design chair since 2010, and specializes in the renovation of residential neighbourhoods and young heritage. She is the founder of the digital platform ‘Love 80’s architecture’.