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Les Belges Histoires | Quentin Wilbaux, building the future with the past

Les Belges Histoires | Quentin Wilbaux

The son and grandson of architects involved in the renovation of Tournai's heritage, Quentin Wilbaux already had in his genes the desire to build the future while preserving the past. It was while working with this heritage and driven by his natural curiosity that he discovered Marrakech, its labyrinth of alleys and its riads threatened with ruin in the '80s.

Fascinated by the way of life of this city that was so different from ours, he drew it, photographed it, made a topographical survey of it and then decided to save it from decrepitude by launching a vast renovation programme with the help of local craftspeople who shared their ancestral knowledge with him and used the work sites to pass it on to the younger generation.

In 20 years, he renovated more than 137 houses in the traditional Moroccan style (riad) and became THE specialist of the Medina in Marrakech. In 1990, UNESCO appointed him for an inventory project, and the Medina became a World Heritage Site. A Professor at the ’École Nationale d’Architecture in Marrakech and at the LOCI in Tournai, in 2018 he launched the Tournai-Marrakech Map 3D mapping project, supported by Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI) and the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, to allow researchers from both institutions to better understand the urban planning and architecture of these places and promote better heritage management. For him, "we build to transmit and the best way to live in the world in the future is to learn from the past." 

But Marrakech is not the only city to benefit from his attention as, taking up the family torch, he, with others, created the Passeurs de mémoire Foundation (Famawiwi) to renovate the Les Fours à Chaux site in Tournai and make it a place for encounters and culture. With his friend Éric Marchal, he also co-created Le Pic au Vent, the first Belgian eco-district, a sustainable urban project based on a new way of living together.



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