Library – Collections

Modern Architecture


This collection comprises some 30,000 works, old and recent, concerning the history of architecture and construction techniques, urban planning and urban history. It also includes many rare Belgian and foreign collections of plates, documentary files as well as an exceptional collection of journals on the subjects of architecture, urban planning and the applied arts published in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, consisting of some 300 titles.


Following the incorporation of the Sint-Lukasarchief into the CIVA Foundation in 2016, the collections of the Sint-Lukasarchief library are being progressively moved and integrated within the collections of the library of the CIVA Foundation’s collection of modern architecture. This integration was completed in the first months of 2019. It is thus no longer possible to consult them in the former premises of the Sint-Lukasarchief in Schaerbeek. Please contact the CIVA Library to find out more.


The origins of the AAM library (Archives of Modern Architecture) date back to the establishment of the Archives of Modern Architecture (AAM), a private institution founded in 1969 on the initiative of Maurice Culot, on the occasion of the exhibition Antoine Pompe et l’effort moderne en Belgique 1895-1940, presented at the Museum of Ixelles.

This library has been able to exist and grow thanks to the patronage of Philippe Rotthier and Sefik Birkiye, and thanks to the donations of the libraries of architects (among others, Jean Dethier and Jacques Dolphyn), but also thanks to donations made by private individuals as well as purchases and exchanges. 

The Sint-Lukasarchief was founded as an unincorporated association in 1967, a research unit focusing on recent Belgian architecture and urban planning, on the initiative of the architectural engineer Alfons Hoppenbrouwers and with the support of Jos Vandenbreeden. In 1970, Jos Vandenbreeden would be appointed to develop the Sint-Lukasarchief, which was to become a non-profit organization in 1979. Since then, the Sint-Lukasarchief has built up a unique collection as an architecture archive and documentation centre. The Sint-Lukasarchief carries out and facilitates academic and applied research, inventories the architectural heritage, organizes exhibitions and releases publications.

In 2016 the library and the documentation centre were integrated within the CIVA Foundation, in the collection of Modern Architecture, on the Ixelles site.


Content of the collection

The library gathers works, collections of plates, journals, documentary files and dissertations.

It comprises some 30,000 old and recent works on architecture, urban planning, the history of cities and of construction techniques. It also boasts numerous very rare portfolios from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, both Belgian and foreign, original editions published in the interwar period, dissertations and unpublished documents.

It has an exceptional collection of journals devoted to architecture, urban planning and applied arts from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, comprising some 250 titles, including the following major journals: Art de BâtirBâtirLa CitéL’Emulation7 ArtsArchitectural ReviewModerne BauformenThe StudioWendingenCasabellaDomusLa Construction moderneArchitecture d’aujourd’hui, etc.

The documentation overseen by the library consists of files on architects and on different themes such as world fairs, garden cities, industrial architecture, urban history and many other subjects studied at the association. It mainly consists of photocopies of journal articles, press clippings, brochures, memorandums, etc.

The library’s collection on the Schaerbeek site includes numerous publications on the Brussels, national and international architectural and urbanistic heritage, as well as a considerable number of art books. It possesses some 12,000 books, 250 collections of plates and 23,000 journals. It also contains documentary files for more than 1,500 architects, 300 sites (primarily Belgian), and about a hundred themes. The collection also covers several private libraries, in particular those of the architectural engineer Alfons Hoppenbrouwers, the Broeders van de Christelijke Scholen, the architect Philippe Samyn, the architect Richard De Bruyn, the architects Florimond and Edward Vervalcke, the collector Gustave Abeels, and the architectural firm AR-BR Architecture. These books, journals, and documentary files may only be consulted by appointment. 


Works published after 1965 are freely accessible in the reading room, while those published before this date are held in the stacks and can be made available through a request to the librarians. 

The classification of the works in the reading room is guided by the idea that architecture forms an integral part of the context which saw it come to life. The books are arranged by country where readers can find history, cities, urban planning, and architect monographs. Books that do not focus on a particular country are classified according to categories such as the history of architecture, the theory of architecture, urban planning, the type of building, construction techniques, design and furniture.

The notion of a conservation library arises from the very strong link between the library and the archive centre and explains why consultations may only be carried out within the premises, and why no loans are made. Reproductions (photocopies and digitizations) are authorized if the condition of the work allows it.