Oops and back..

April 1, 2008

Dear reader,

Whether you are a city guy, an archi girl, a design freak or just a random blogsweeper, I want to thank you for your belief in my short writings at this address.. Unfortunately I have neglected this spot for a while since I started my professional tasks in an architectural workshop here in Brussels. I’m working on different exciting projects in the domain of architecture and design, two things i’m fond of!

Since my job is a little sensitive on some parts of these domains, I won’t write explicitly about those specific projects, but I’m quite sure there are many other interesting things going on to share with you! I’m reading a lot, these last days, on the developement of Brussels as an internationally oriented city and I’m getting some thoughts on sharing some of these articles with you. You can smack your chops that’s gonna be interesting! Just give me some more time since all week long I’ll be celebrating my 1/4 century’s birthday!! Congrats to myself and see you @ Bulex this saturday 5 april!!

Also, since I take a train like every day of the week, I’m getting inspired by those neglected spaces in the middle of the city alongside undefined borders and hollow tunnels. That seems to be a starting point to show off some photographs on these architectually interesting non-spaces. I gathered some knowledge while writing my master thesis on “uncanny” architecture but was thinking of turning this information into practice. You’ll be finding this out pretty soon I hope!

Last but not least, I’m working on a newly designed blog that will be available soon on-line. Brace yourself!


Harder Better Faster Stronger

January 24, 2008

The way music videos should be! 🙂 


Flock 1.0: The social web browser

January 10, 2008

Flock (Media Streams)

After erasing my iBooks hard drive – which became quite overloaded since the last few projects – I was coping with the problem that Apple’s Safari 3 still being in the state of a public beta version, could not open every single webpage as most so called web designers still haven’t got rid of their blinkers yet.

Ebay is one of those websites on which logging on using the Safari web browser just wouldn’t work. Anyhow it’s really none of my business which platform people use to develop their website, it still seems quite disappointing for the world’s leading website in online auctions to have a website which cannot be accessed through the third largest web browser!

So I rushed myself to the Apple Downloads page and scrawled around for a nice alternative. I had used Camino before, which is a good and very fast browser for os-x but I somehow was attracted by a new browser named Flock.

People use the Web today in extremely different ways than they did a decade ago. However, web browsers – the application at the center of all that we do online – has not kept pace with these changes in online behavior. Flock, that calls itself the social web browser, was founded on the vision that the web browser can and should enable the richest user experience possible across information-gathering, sharing, communication, self-expression and interaction. Flock is built on Mozilla technology and has therefore the power to be some piece of reliable open-source software.

But why would anyone in the world start using a new and unknown web browser? Well, the funeral of Netscape earlier this month could be an argument to do so… But there’s a much smarter reason why. It has a powerful rss reader built-in which actually puts data from your favourite websites as well as your social networks right at the surface of your browsing interface.

Flock has some nifty side bars, top bars and tabs that flawlessly stream updates of your most precious entourage’s media, news and messages in networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Flickr. The RSS feeds pane may not be that advanced as it is in dedicated news readers, but the fact that it’s right there where you expect it, right at the moment when you’re expecting it, is just.. wel.. just nice!

Flock (Feeds)Flock (My World)

One can carry its del.ici.ous or ma.gnolia right into the browser interface without having to actually lose the time opening the website. Or you can directly preview Google Maps directions from your home to an address that figures on a website with one single mouse click.

Personally I got addicted to the People’s side bar which displays real time status updates and messages my contacts in Facebook wrote, or to the Media bar which streams the latest photographs of my favourite groups and contacts on Flickr, or which previews the media content of an open web page without actually having to browse trough it.

Flock may not be the best browser in the world, for those who are webwise socially engaged trough blogs and social networks, this is a decent and fun way to experience the web in 2.0 style!

Available for OS-X, Windows and Linux



Some toughts on a sweet 2008…

January 2, 2008

First and foremost I wish all of you a sweet 2008 with lots of love, luck and money!

2008 hopefully brings some positive stress and productive results for myself, but I also wish others some fine results, especially some politicians… I intend to write you some more frequent about architecture and design here in Brussels, and will soon start working on a decent website, too.

Some other wishes for this year are the addition of some new destinations to my humble travel list. I just got back from Paris, where I celebrated both the last and the first day of both years. Didn’t saw any fireworks, at least not at the Champs Elysées, but we did have a nice dinner in a trendy restaurant and lived the action together with 400.000 others at Europe’s most beautiful avenue…

Champs Elysees 31122007

New York and Montréal, CN are on my list, but I’d love to make some free time for a trip to the South as well. Suggestions for other destinations or nice places to see in both NYC and Montréal are welcome!

I have plenty of new stuff to post but haven’t got the time yet to write a story around all of these subjects. Design and architecture are omnipresent, but I have got some “lighter” content pending as well. Also, I know lots of you, just as myself, speak Dutch, but I’d prefer to continue my writing in English for various reasons.

It only remains for me to wish you once more a bright 2008!



A peek on the future Schuman Station

December 9, 2007

schuman 1

schuman 3

It has been a while since the last post, but I’ve got plenty of new ideas to post!

I’d like to start with a first brief preview on the metamorphosis of the Schuman station in Brussels. This station actually situated behind the Berlaymont Building will be extended to be one of the largest main subway stations in town. The station will serve the existing train station, the renovated subway station and the new train station that is nowdays being built under the rue de la Loi / Wetstraat, between the Berlaymont Building and the Residence Palace (near the Schuman Square). The new station will be situated at the end (start) of the brand new RER-rail tunnel Schuman-Josaphat. The platforms of the new RER-station will rest upon the existing subway station in order to create a higly inter-modal junction.

schuman 2 schuman 4
From an architectural point of view, this new complex aims to pay a lot of attention to the practical organization and the incidence of light in order to provide a comfortable way of transfer between the new RER/GEN suburb railway system, the subway system and the inter-city train system. Remarkable is the new glass roof that will flank the exit of the tunnel used by cars and that actually attracts daylight into the subway station.

The subway station, a realization of “W.J. & M.C. Van Campenhout” will shortly be overhauled and will incorporate both subway and trains in the same space.

The information used for this article comes from the newsletter “GEN-krant” edited by the NMBS/SNCB-BELIRIS.


Thurn & Taxis update

November 3, 2007

T&T Developent (2007)

Computer image courtesy of Ateliers LION, architectes & urbanistes, Paris.

Some time passed since the latest update on the Thurn & Taxis site development in Brussels. This ancient industrial site close to the city centre harboured once the Belgian Royal Warehouses. Due to the opening of European borders and the evolution of transport, the site was put for sale in the late 80’s and became abandoned little by little.

An early development project at the beginning of the year 2000 proposed “Music City”. This was a project that foreseed the reconversion of the Royal Depots into a huge concert hall. As far as I remember there were concerns on the roof structure that wasn’t protected yet back then. The project met with lots of opposition and got abandoned.

In 2001, Robelco and Lease Invest mounted a joined venture named T&T. The hunting for a new development was open. They attracted study and design teams to effect a thorough feasability study. And today we know the results of that study. The picture below shows a rendering picture containing some early lines of force for the developement of the site. Basically, nothing will happen there at all! It’s just a 13 in a dozen drawing with some greenery fields – call it “a parc”. A pity they did not portray the cows and sheep…

The humble tower at the upper south of the site (upper right) is nothing but a down toning of the ambitious visions of specialized teams around well known architecture critics. Well – honestly – it’s not from a big “promotor” that we should expect architectural statements – at the utmost some modern commercial rubbish. That’s why I already proclaim the Brussel’s Tour & Taxis / Thurn & Tassis site tis decade’s flop!

Comments are welcome…


LOTR: How it should have ended…

November 2, 2007

Some of you know already that ever since the trilogy came out, I had been a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings. But hey, 3 hours of non-stop movie weighs a lot on your bladder! That’s why this hilarious alternative is non that bad!- “Throw in the Ring, Frodo!”- “Weeeee…” 


iFrancis.be down

October 23, 2007

NOTE: This week, my personal website and portfolio – which you can find via http://www.iFrancis.be/ – will be off-line due to some bandwith restrictions. 


Purist, Expert, Socialite…

October 21, 2007

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

Yet another blog-quiz: the “What Kind Of Blogger Are You” questionary. Try it yourself and see what kind you are. Well, don’t mind the picture beside it, but I seem to be a “purist, expert, socialite blogger”. No comment for now 🙂


Leopard Addiction

October 16, 2007

Mac OS-X Leopard

Today Apple announced the worldwide release date for their OS-X 10.5 to be on friday October 26th. For this special occasion they opened a pre-ordeing with in favour a free shipping.

For some time now I was wondering wheather to buy myself a copy of Apple’s new operating system Leopard or just wait until I can afford myself a new laptop beauty.

Almost a year after the candy that Apple presented us, most of the Mac users seem to be persuaded that this is the most revolutionary upgrade of their beloved system. The newly published list at apple.com listst no less than 316 new features. Especially the renewed desktop with the useful Stacks and the new Finder with Cover Flow and Quickview. I also look forward to the new Mail app and the extended iCal, both apps that I use frequently and of which the new features seem very appealing.

I just wanted to share this funny excerpt of the WWDC 07 Keynote with you. Enjoy 🙂


The iPhone in Brussels

October 13, 2007

iPhone in BrusselIt was rumored for a certain time in different Belgian newspapers, and here’s the proof; the iPhone is for sale in at least one Brussel’s phone shop. In a corner between tons of different phone models I found this bare beauty. Price to pay : 995 Euros!

Probably they solved a simple problem in arithmetic: A return ticket Brussels / New York City (405€), a hotel stay (100€) and a cosy restaurant dinner in Little Italy, say 95€. Next, a stop down the Apple Store’s glass cube on Fifth Avenue for a magic box of iPhone; 399$. The vendor would have some 100€ of pocket money paid by their boss. But it seems to me to be more likely that they shipped some pretty greyish specimen of the iPhone giving themselves some fine gratuity for this holiday season.I didn’t feel myself quite excited – actually this specimen was stored behind glass in a plain show-case. Crazy people that felt the urge to spend 1000€ buying themselves this pretty gadget; feel free to comment!

( This post also appeared on www.brusselblogt.be )


The photo mystery…

October 4, 2007

Wie woont er in het Justitiepaleis?

To my great surprise I found this photograph on the brunofm programme’s blog. The author did it’s very best to camouflage the origin of the picture; saturation and contrast were adjusted and the image’s frame nicely cropped. Especially look at the white stripes of cloud and the shades of pink and orange below the clouds, they really are the same, as is the perspective. Check out my original photograph, taken last month:

Reference (Justitiepaleis by fvdb)

Now, not that I care that much – I’m not a professional photographer – but a small mail or a notice I would have appreciated.

So, my question towards you, readers : Do you often take photo’s from the web, without realizing who made them? I think we all do… Other comments ( on this photograph ) are also welcome!


Schweitzer Square Blog

September 22, 2007

Schweitzer (P.M.)

Since I joined B612associates last week, I was working on the project of the Schweitzer Square renewal in Brussels. Wheather you live in Berchem (Brussels) or elsewhere, you probably have already seen some press releases on the project.

In this post I would like to make you aware that we at B612 mounted a blog which contains the latest information on the project. The main purpose of this blog is to encourage the participation of all different groups involved in the square’s renewal. Next monday, 22 september, we organize some workshops together with YOTA. The workshops are open for all inhabitants and commercants in Berchem. You’re all invited. Find out more on the programme at http://www.b612.be/schweitzer/


You’ll be wanting one!

September 5, 2007

This is huge! I just wanted to let you know about the new iPods released in San Fransisco today. The Apple on-line stores got back up and running and here’s a first preview:

new iPod nano An all new iPod nano // Even though I really didn’t like the leaked previews of the new nano that appeared on-line during the last week, I kinda appreciate its sleek design. The aluminium case comes in five new colors and yes, it sports video! It makes me wonder wheter to buy a new one, because mine is already 2.5y old. Anyway, my shiny white 1st gen nano still matches my (even more) shining iBook. Hey, I’m becoming an “old skool” guy 😉

new iPod classic

A new iPod, from now on called iPod Classic // The new iPods seem thinner and yet much more performing, with an 80 or 160 GB hard disk under the hood, a very appealing aluminium case that matches the new iPod style, and a re-designed interface – yes: with cover flow! It only seems to me that the coverflow just isn’t that much user friendly with a click wheel – my opinion at distance.

A new iPod touch, actually a slim iPhone without the Phone (they could have called it just “i” though…) // Some thoughts: it looks quite expensive for an iPod with “only” 8/16 GB memory, but who am I to tell. It has a gorgeous 3.5″ touch screen and seem to have incorporated most of the functions of the iPhone; it has WiFi, Safari and YouTube on board. To me, this “phoneless” iPhone looks quite amazing, but it differs a lot from the other iPods in range. Didn’t they mean to create a “white” interface, somewhat in between the new Leopard and the new iPod interface? Anyhow, it’ll do fine according to me. Also, the WiFi-store and Starbucks cooperation will become huge – maybe we’ll be seeing a Starbucks opening here in Brussels city?!

new iPod line-up

If you’re Brussels based, check out the Apple Store this weekend at the 5th floor of the Galleria Inno (rue Neuve) – even though I hate the Media Markt outlet store, I should persuade myself to go and find out the atmosphere… – I’m quite sure that the new iPods will already be available over there!

Too much talk.. That’s about it for now. Just check out Apple.com ! You’ll be wanting one too! 😉


Design September 2007

September 2, 2007

Design September 2007

This month Design September programs a series of events on the theme of design, held in various places around the capital of Belgium between the 9th and 30th September.

The challenge is to create synergies and bridges between the various independent and active organizations concerned with design by offering them a platform and showcase on a national scale and beyond the borders of the country.

Design September consists of various exhibitions, open days and special events and starts with a triptych of exhibitions about the design icons Eero Saarinen (link) and the Eames couple (link), and about the Vienna Secession Years in Brussels (link). Also programmed are the official opening of the Cityscape by the Belgian designer Arne Quinze (cityscape.be) on September 14th, and some lectures at Flagey (flagey.be) like the one on September 20th by Alain Berteau, the Belgian design king that created products for companies such as BULo, Montis and Fange, or a lecture by the Paris based Jakob+MacFarlane about their most recent projects, including a new Brussels building complex.

Personally you will find myself at the re-opening of the so called Parckdesign, an exhibition on the results of a competition for innovative urban furniture at the Jardins du Fleuriste near the Atomium in Brussels. Among these designs, no more than 46 Belgian entries! Another of my personal favourites is the Designer’s Open Doors weekend on 15 and 16 September for which famous and less famous Belgian designers open their workshops and boutiques.

– View the programme at designseptember.be

– Read more in the special issue of Weekend Knack (appears on September 12th, together with Knack)

(This post is written by Francisvdb, and cross-posted on Behive)