Referential types as clues for housing design

Gerald Ledent, Susanne Komossa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


A place or city can be characterized by a particular housing type – a ‘referential housing type’. It is usually embodied in the housing form that was widely produced in the golden age of a region. It may be conceived as an inseparable combination of spatial and socio-cultural features. Such a type sheds light on the socio-cultural character of a particular place. It enables a better understanding of the other housing forms in the place. These other forms can be comprehended in relation to the referential type. Bearing in mind that the ‘genius loci’ is a key to designing new projects, referential types can function in two ways: through a contemporary interpretation of their spatial features, or through the creation of new spatial features that are able to support the socio-cultural inner logic informed by the referential types. The concept of referential types is illustrated in Brussels and Amsterdam. Paradigmatic examples with identical conventions allowing for objective comparisons are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
JournalUrban Morphology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • type
  • housing design
  • basic buildings
  • Brussels
  • Amsterdam

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