Historical building material is reused for the repair of monumental buildings in Twente

Old becomes new


We are faced with several problems when restoring monumental buildings. One of them: how do we make sure its look remains authentic? We must also take sustainability into account. Martin Bellers of the RIBO foundation has a solution for this. During Social Impact Day on November 19, 2019, he shared his ideas with us as part of GROW Green. The RIBO foundation provides old building materials for refurbishing old buildings and monuments. This circular construction allows old buildings to keep their charm but is also sustainable since no, or less, new material has to be produced.

In short

  • GROW Green is looking for sustainable doers with ideas that propose solutions for a circular economy
  • During Social Impact Day, Martin Bellers shared the solutions he implements through the RIBO foundation
  • The RIBO foundation provides discarded historical building material for restoring old buildings and monuments

Global Goal

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The RIBO foundation was founded in the 1980s, following the economic crisis of the time. At that time, there were many unemployed construction workers. At the same time, many monumental buildings in Twente were being neglected. Through the RIBO foundation, a solution was found for both problems: unemployed construction workers were hired for the restoration of monuments, and they received great training at the same time so that they could get a job in construction after this project. During the first projects in that time, 20 unemployed people were given a temporary job through RIBO, and 95% received a diploma afterwards and found a job in construction. From 1990 onwards, the focus was on educating students who had opted for a building course and wanted to become proficient in restoration.


This initiative was so succesful that Martin Bellers and RIBO wanted to continue it, and then the idea came up to save old building materials and make them suitable for reuse. Education, training and the reuse of historic building materials are still the core activities of the foundation. RIBO has been a tenant of the Twickel estate for around 15 years, where the workshop and storage space are located. It is great that RIBO and Twickel have been brought together because Martin Bellers could immediately solve one of the problems Jacco Hulst of the Twickel estate was struggling with. On the Twickel estate, there are, of course, many monumental buildings in need of maintenance and repair. Historical building materials can now be used through the RIBO foundation, to guarantee the authenticity of these buildings. Read more about how Jacco Hulst of the Twickel estate also contributes to a better world through circular initiatives and activities here.


RIBO “saves” materials from demolition projects. “A nice example is this old barn (see image); we have been able to reuse 90% of the building materials through smart demolition, to preserve monuments and an age-old building tradition”, Martin Bellers explains. A waste product to someone else serves as a raw material for RIBO. This is what GROW Green is all about: acceleration for doers and ideas. Ideas that contribute to a circular economy put less pressure on our living environment.


RIBO does not train any unemployed construction workers these days, but students from the ROC van Twente. Together with the ROC, they have devised a new training called “wood and restoration technician”. It is a three-year course where, in the words of Martin, the beauty of working with wood is shown to the students. The course focuses on working with solid wood. This work is traditional but also very innovative, according to Martin.  “We work with new machines to make products that used to take a lot of time to make. This shorter production time also makes it more affordable. Training and building with wood is the future because it greatly reduces CO2 emissions, and no nitrogen is released during the production of wood! Moreover, wood is a particularly durable material that can easily be reused.”

Moving forward?

RIBO has many great ideas but will need some help to continue and expand existing projects. RIBO is currently located on a yard at Haarweg 3 in Hengelo, on the Twickel estate. Since they have been there for 15 years now, the lack of space is starting to become dire. There are plans for expansion. A lot of space is required for the storage of historical building materials. The foundation also wants to make the depot more professional and commercial, but it must be determined whether that is feasible, and what the market demands are. Also, the new privacy legislation is a problem for RIBO since it is now difficult to find out where demolition projects will take place. Previously, RIBO still had arrangements with the municipalities in Overijssel, and they were tipped if something would be demolished somewhere. Now that this is no longer the case, the increase in materials has halted. Much material that could be reused is now discarded. Will you help Martin Bellers and the RIBO foundation? Or do you have an idea that could contribute to a circular society? Then please contact us and send an email to growgreen@twente.com!

Date: 28 January 2020 |

Source of tekst: Twente.com |

Author: Twente.com