Research team

Henry van de Velde


Since 2019, Sven Verbruggen has been working as a fulltime professor at the University of Antwerp and today is leading the Design Sciences Hub together with Alexander D’Hooghe and Sylvianne Van Butsele. Sven graduated as an engineer-architect from the University of Ghent in 2000, went to work for renowned practices such as Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, and founded his own design practice. Sven has a track record in working on large hybrid buildings such as the Shipping and Transport College in Rotterdam, the MAS in Antwerp, an opera and hotel designed for Ljubljana city center, and the award-winning Gare Maritime reconversion project for Tour & Taxis in Brussels. During his doctoral research into contemporary design theories—defended in 2017—Sven remained intensively involved in practice. Sven studies typological innovations for decentralized distribution centers (of goods and services, but also energy storage and production, water management, district and city heating), multi-cellular buildings (such as hotels, hospitals, prisons, student housing, and care infrastructure), hybrid buildings ( such as shopping centers and offices, cohousing projects, complexes with housing and workshops for the manufacturing industry), and large collective buildings (such as stadiums, theaters and operas, places of worship and stations). The central themes in his research are city and health, mobility and circularity. These three themes are dissected with tools such as: design research, design thinking, science communication and digital techniques, tradable development rights (VOR) or Transferable Development Rights (TDR), user-based real estate developments, participation (Baugruppen, CLT), and the sharing economy. To frame his research field he coined the term ‘Les Machines a Recréer’, which stands for crucial projects that, through their strategic role—in space and / or time—force the architect-designer and researcher to reflect, explore and innovate. Moreover, Les Machines a Recréer also alludes to the two extremes of architectural commitment: the recreational interpretation—architecture as entertainment— and the ethical interpretation—architecture as a transformer of the urban fabric. With Les Machines à Recreer, crucial urban interventions are studied with an interdisciplinary approach in which architecture operates as a mediator between antagonistic interests and actors. Sven hopes to clarify his research intentions with catchphrases such as: ‘From City Park to Parkcity’, ‘The Green Game’, ‘Circular Camps’, ‘Unplugged City’, ‘Tinder for Real Estate Development’, ‘A Network of TDR Hotspots’, and ‘Last Mile Innovations’.