Brussels approves plans for open-air swimming pool size of Grand Place

Brussels approves plans for open-air swimming pool size of Grand Place
Plans for the Manufakture building. Credit: Pascal Smet cabinet, BAUKUNST

The Brussels Government has issued an urban development permit for Manufakture in Anderlecht and has agreed to partially fund an open-air swimming pool on its roof.

The final plans for the old Abattoir building, previously housing a slaughterhouse in the Cureghem district in Anderlecht, will include meat cutting and other food processing activities, as well as a closed car park. On the roof, a terrace will be built looking out to the city's skyline, as well as an open-air pool.

"Today, the Region is giving itself the opportunity to build an ambitious swimming pool project that is accessible to all, in a district that is most in need of this type of infrastructure in Brussels," Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort said.

The region will cover additional costs for the necessary structural reinforcement needed to create the rooftop swimming pool with an investment subsidy of €2.1 million. This comes on top of the planned maximum investment of €1.8 million from the Flemish Community Commission (VGC).

Fulfilling Brussels' need for pools

Vervoort stressed that the fact that the facility is easily accessibly by public transport will help make it easy for all of the inhabitants of Brussels to get to the swimming pool, which is expected to have a surface area similar to that of the city's Grand Place.

"With this decision, the region has also taken another step towards opening this central, symbolic site to the public. An objective to which other major public investments in urban renovation in the neighbourhood will contribute," he added.

"Brussels needs swimming pools in general and an open-air swimming pool in particular. Last year's FLOW project demonstrated this once again," Pascal Smet, State Secretary for Urban Development, said.

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"Because those who do not have the opportunity to go to Cannes or Knokke in the summer, also deserve relaxation in the water. With this swimming pool five minutes from the city centre, that is possible. We owe it to the young people of Brussels," he added.

Manufakture's residual heat will help warm the pool, meaning it will be ecologically sound, even during the wintertime. "It must now be ensured that easy access for all is maintained in the later development of the project," Paul Steinbrück, co-founder of POOL IS COOL, the company behind FLOW, said.

Plans not finalised yet

A private partner still has to be found who wants to take care of the construction, maintenance and operation of the swimming pool.

"In the next steps, the right in rem on the roof will be negotiated, financing will be found for the construction and operation of the swimming pool, and a contract will be launched to find a private partner to design, build, maintain and operate the swimming complex," Smet said.

"It goes without saying that the architectural quality will have to be in line with Manufakture and the potential of the site."

Now that the planning permission has been granted, the construction of Manufakture will start in the coming months, with works scheduled to be finalised in 2024. The project is estimated at around €17.5 million.

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