5 remarkable insights into the phenomenon of thatched roofs in Belgium

Thatched roofs are a piece of Belgian heritage. From now on, you can find all information about buildings with thatched roofs in Belmap. We dived into the data and collected five interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that they mainly emerged as a local phenomenon in the 1970s and 1980s? 

#1. Thatched roofs are rare

Despite their historical heritage value, thatched roofs are not exactly commonplace in Belgium. Out of more than 8 million buildings, only 3327 are equipped with a thatched roof, representing only 0.04% of the total number of buildings.


#2. On the outskirts of large cities and near the coast

Those looking to spot thatched roofs should head for the residential suburbs around major cities such as Brasschaat, Schilde and Sint Martens Latem. You can also find them in more fashionable coastal towns such as Knokke and Nieuwpoort. Not to mention Bokrijk, where you can find them on the houses and farms in the historic open-air museum. 


#3. Primarily a Flemish phenomenon

The map doesn't lie: for thatched roofs you have to be mainly in Flanders. In Brussels and Wallonia you need to look for them with a magnifying glass. Besides cultural differences in building style, the availability of thatch as a basic raw material also played a role. 

#4.  Popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although thatch has been used as a raw material for roofs for thousands of years, this architectural style only really became popular in the 1970s and 1980s. More than half of today's patrimony dates from this period. After 1990, its popularity declined rapidly. In recent years, only a few dozen houses were equipped with thatched roofs. 

#5. Detached villas for wealthy families.

We associate thatched roofs primarily with rural living. Their remarkable aesthetics are mainly used for spacious and detached houses in residential areas. This is also reflected in the information from GeoType, the segmentation model of Belgian households. As many as 61% of all homes with thatched roofs are occupied by a family classified as "Residential Enjoyment." This means that they have a higher than average family income and live in a detached house not far from the city or in the countryside.  


Why is it important to know where thatched roofs occur? Belgian regulations stipulate that you cannot simply install solar panels on a thatched roof. A special recess must be provided so that the panels and wiring do not come into contact with the thatch. As a result, these buildings are virtually ineligible for solar panels. In addition, thatch carries an increased risk of fire. This inventory allows insurance companies to more accurately assess the risks in their portfolios. 


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