Archive for the ‘Urban Planning’ Category

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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…

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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/

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Brussels west ring road

July 15, 2007

A few weeks ago voices arose about the development of the small ring road on the west of the city centre of Brussels, between the Sainctelettesquare and the Porte de Ninove. Or should I say “public voices arose”? In fact the press release came some weeks prior to the delivery of a building permit. I did some research about the project and found the project description.

West Ring Road, Brussels

The study is effectuated by the Leuven based company, BUUR (Bureau voor Urbanisme cvba), a young and dynamic research company in the domain of urbanism and urban planning. The works on the Brussels west ring road will start later on this year and incorporate a new promenade alongside the canal, a new footbridge and most appealingmore space for public transport and for people to walk. I’m not quite sure if I can shouw you these pictures in a legal way, but I see this more as the promotion of the owner’s work towards a wider public. If there’s any remark, please be so kind to contact me!

New Situational Plan

Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans sees the new development as a chance to re-unite the city centre of Brussels with its neighbour, Molenbeek, and to involve the waterfront in the experience of the city. I see the development as a first start to valorize the canal’s surroundings, while a study lead by the same company to develop the north zone on the upper side of the ring road, especially the development of the former industrial site Thurn & Taxis, was started earlier this year. The study consists of setting up a new master plan for the site and some general research about the sites possibilities.

Persepective Proposal

The west ring road, between Sainctelette and the Ninoofse Poort, links up with the spontaneous development of the Dansaert district, that houses famous design and fashion shops. In fact, at larger notice the district could cope with a rise of rent, and such this could shift from a quite poor to a high standing quarter. Depends on the further development…

Perspective Proposal (2)

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bssl: rogier square / rogierplein

May 27, 2007



Rogier Square by XDG Architects

Well, let me tell you a little more on the past, the present and the future of the Rogier Square in the centre of Brussels. A few years ago, as I mentioned in “image of the week #001” (read more…), the Modernist icon of Brussels, which was the ancient Rogier Tower, was destroyed and replaced by the actual Dexia Tower. As with the most recent manifestation and sports arenas, these new high rise buildings are most oftenly named after their investors. Seems like the Brussels sky becomes dominated by bank and insurance companies, though… Let me remind you of an old postcard photograph taken around 1910. It shows the Rogier Square with the North Station, a gigantesque Haussmann style building. Later on, in 1952, the Belgian rail company

North Station, Brussels, anno 1910. North Station, before the great works in 1952.

created a link between the two stations Brussels North and Brussels Midi, under the identity of a tunnel cutting the city of brussels in two parts. The North Station was displaced some 500m up to the north. Therefore, the old station was demolished and a new one rebuilt, the one we still know…

1958, the year of the World Exposition in Brussels, mostly known as the year the Atomium was built in, but it was also the year of completion of the Rogier Tower. Most of you who knew the tower, remeber it as the Martini Tower with its spinning Mercedes logo on the roof top. It was a 21 storey building unioning appartments, shops, offices and a theatre, all in one building. But the Modernist building, designed as a town in town,

Rogier Tower back in the eighties… Rogier Tower during the destruction (anno 2001)

drowned slowly to clear the spot for a monofunctional and ignorant glass office building. The curved balconies, the particular base upon which the quite slim tower was posed… they were demolished stone by stone back in 2001. A document from 2001 reminds me of the discussion about the protection of the building. But finally the discussion concerned the aesthetics of the to be constructed tower and owner Immobel decided to replace the Modernist icon with an example of how it shouldn’t be. Samyn together with Jaspers

Early computer model, 2002 (Samyn & Partners NV.) Computer model, 2002 (Samyn & Partners)

designed a new office building with a geometrical base grid, based on the city grid of the surrounding streets. The back of the building is said to be conciped with “respect to the outline of the street”, but i did not found any explication on the slope of the glazed roof. The architect describes that there’s to be found a landscape office, and that the “main lines of the plan are parallel to the layout of the North neighbourhood, while acknowledging the other angles in the perspective of the site”… Understood?!

Rogier Square Proposal, 2005, by SeARCH, BAS and BUUR with Jaume Plensa Rogier Square Proposal, 2005, by SeARCH, BAS and BUUR with Jaume Plensa

Together with the process of building a new tower, questions of rebuilding the Rogier Square arose the public opinion. A first attempt was that of Clerbaux & Pinon, a Brussels based project office. They had been asked by the city of St-Joost (the actual town the square is localized in…) to design the new suare. The project was kept secret until the first publication. Brussels minister Pascal Smet replied immediately, together with a immense base of the public opinion, with unbelief and set up a design competition whereout 5 international teams were selected. One in particular was the proposal of SeARCH / BAS / BUUR together with the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Their proposal featured a huge transparent man that would be an art object creating a soul to the square and her surroundings. It’s my favourite proposal, because of the potential regarding an artistical experience the project seem to include…

Rogier Square Proposal, 2003, by Clerbaux & Pinon Rogier Square Proposal, 2003, by Clerbaux & Pinon

Finally, the winning company was revealed : XDGA, the research and architecture bureau of the Belgian architect Xavier De Geyter is going to design the new Square. The new project features an enormous glass structure that links different spaces with the square. The glass will reflect the underground of the metro station and the shopping area as well as the surroundings of the square. I’m highly enthousiast and excited to see this project completed at the end of 2009. I have no clue when the building works will start, but it’s my educating task to inform you about that! To be continued…

Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA. Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA.
Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA.

Links + images :

http://www.europaconcorsi.com/db/pub/architecture.php?id_scheda=12867&idimg=106671
http://www.xdga.be
http://www.imal.org/martini/
http://sofei-vandenaemet.skynetblogs.be/
http://www.samynandpartners.be/
http://www.buur.be/index.php/buur/projectpagina/rog_rogierplein/