The history of our Living Tomorrow project

Frank Belien022

An article by our founder Frank Beliën, on how the project once started, and what the future holds for Living Tomorrow.

An article by our founder Frank Beliën, on how the project once started, and what the future holds for Living Tomorrow.

An article by our founder Frank Beliën, on how the project once started, and what the future holds for Living Tomorrow.

In 1961, my father built his own house. As a young visionary architect, he created a modern prefab design, with an almost entirely glass exterior envelope. Inside were two core elements – bathroom and kitchen – around which the living areas were conceived. In 6 months’ time more than 300.000 people visited our home, as it became some sort of ‘open house’ for the public. I wasn’t born yet, so I have no idea how my parents managed that.

Fast forward to 1988. I was president of the architects student club Sopha, and we invited architects from all over the world to give seminars on our campus. That generated a lot of interest within the architecture community, and I am not ashamed to say that it benefited both my relationships with professors, and my grades. The same kind of entrepreneurship led our club to stay out of the red, unheard of, at the time!

Why do I mention these two anecdotes? Because they are characteristic of the road leading up to the start of Living Tomorrow in 1991: a combination of entrepreneurial spirit and drive for innovation. So how did it come about? At the time the House of the Future existed in Rosmalen (NL), created by TV-scientist Chriet Titulaer. After visiting, I was somewhat disappointed and wanted to do better. I was determined to raise the bar in terms of vision and innovation.

In order to realize my plan and the building, I needed financial backing, a terrain and a team. All were found pretty quickly. Hudevad signed off the first participant contract of many assuring the funds, we negotiated a site in Vilvoorde with its mayor and assembled a strong team of architects. But the project really took off when Joachim De Vos came onboard in 1993, and with him, the innovative power we needed.

Our search for support from companies, authorities and worldwide industry leaders culminated in Bill Gates opening the project in 1995. We even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Former prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene was also fascinated by our project and proved a big help in securing support from the Flemish government. Later, Herman Van Rompuy, President em. European Council, Minister of State, took over as Chairman of the advisory board of Living Tomorrow.

Needless to say, we were extremely proud. Living Tomorrow was a resounding success. The level of innovation was truly unique at the time, really world class. We succeeded in creating a digital world, where the future could be experienced. Bill Gates making a documentary about it, proves that I am not just boasting idly. He became our ambassador to the world, so to speak.

157 companies joined the project, making us one the few successful autonomous and unsubsidised projects of its kind in Europe. We welcomed visitors from the four corners of the globe and went on to set up new projects in Vilvoorde, Amsterdam and Heusden-Zolder by 2000. The consultancy spinoff Tomorrowlab opened its doors in 2012.

So here we are today. It has been an incredible journey for me and the Living Tomorrow team to create the world of the future. At the very core is the team, always facing and dealing with new challenges. Continuously searching for innovation, partners and public around the world. We look forward with great enthusiasm and ambition to our next expansion and Living Tomorrow 2030.

I am more convinced than ever that we have the right people to do it.

Latest insights & stories

Ada cosmetics HERO HEADER 202402 1440x930px min

How sustainability and hygiene put even more beauty into travel

Gentle to nature, gentle to the skin. High-quality hotel amenities contribute to well-being and play an important role in creating memorable moments while travelling. Away from home, guests expect not only carefully chosen brands and designs, but also products that are sustainable and safe. ADA Cosmetics meets these demands with its expertise and proven dispenser systems, such as the squeeze dispenser SmartCare, as well as a new pump dispenser that sets out to revolutionise the dispenser market.

Schermafbeelding 2024 02 12 om 15 52 40

Extreme Networks: a textbook example of how to make the most of your partnership

Extreme Networks is playing a crucial role at Living Tomorrow by sharing their vision of the networking of the future through an interactive demo in the Zone City. This demo makes their vision of the future tangible for visitors, giving them a clear idea of the possibilities of future networks.

Smart City & Industry

Q8 Innovation and Digitalisation Training

We are excited to share the latest developments in our collaboration with Q8 as they continue their exciting transformative journey. As part of its ongoing transformation program, Q8 International is dedicated to enhancing its core competencies in innovation, digitalisation, and agility.

Their primary goal was to instil new capabilities in these crucial areas, fostering a common language among team members and promoting collaboration across different departments and operating units. In collaboration with Tomorrowlab the Q8 Innovation and Digitalisation Training was born.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.