Heart of city centre: Bourse area to become fully pedestrianised

Heart of city centre: Bourse area to become fully pedestrianised
Credit: Maithe Chini/ The Brussels Times

Following the renovation of the major axes around Brussels' Stock Exchange Building (Bourse), the smaller streets around this key site will also be redeveloped into a fully pedestrianised zone.

The Place de la Bourse directly in front of the recently re-opened Bourse building in the city centre already received a thorough makeover as part of the works on the central avenues, including the once car-heavy Boulevard Anspach, which is now car-free.

Planning permission has now been delivered for a complete makeover of the whole area around the building, with the renovations aiming to level the pavement down to street level to make it into an actual pedestrian zone.

"The renewal of the Bourse area is the final chord of the works on the pedestrian zone, which started in 2017. In this way, we are also completing one of the most ambitious public space renewal projects that Brussels has had in recent decades," said Ans Persoons, State Secretary for Town Planning and Heritage.

"The area around Bourse will now become a full part of the pedestrian zone. Using high-quality materials will give the Bourse even more charisma."

Revamping surrounding streets

The new layout is in line with the City of Brussels' ambition to "beautify and renew the city centre" and will see an axis being created from the Grand Place to Place Sainte-Catherine, the hub of restaurants and bars. Its surrounding streets, which have been car-free for several years, are currently being transformed to make them more accessible and greener.

From 2 October, the streets surrounding Place de la Bourse will also be revamped. Works will start in the Rue de la Bourse, on the left side of the building when standing in front of its iconic staircase.

Rue de la Bourse has already been partly renovated as part of the Bourse project. Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

This street was also much loved for its peepholes allowing passers-by to look into the Bruxella 1238 museum, where the ruins of the former Franciscan monastery can be still seen today. Fortunately, new windows have been created, allowing people to look down at the artefacts, including the tomb of Duke John I of Brabant.

The Rue Henri Maus on the other side will also be transformed, as well as the back of the building, where Rue du Midi and Rue Tabora are connected. Now, many of the streets are still divided by a road and a pavement. The renovations are aiming to level the streets to give them a pedestrian feel.

Planning permission for the redevelopment of the area around the Bourse was already delivered in 2017 as part of works on the pedestrian zone by Beliris, but several technical difficulties for the works arose, while specific conditions were set by the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites.

The city therefore wanted to amend the permit obtained, focusing specifically on the blue stone cladding around Bourse. Now, the entire area around the building will be coated with bluestone so the square can blend in with the rest of the pedestrian zone,

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The changes compared to the original permit application are mainly technical in nature – a renewed size of the blue stone tiles, for example – but will also include new lighting to make the surrounding building stand out even more, while the kiosks initially envisaged will be replaced by benches.

The works will take place in several phases from the start of October and will be halted during the city's famous Winter festivities. They will then restart in early 2024. The new pedestrian zone is expected to be completed in spring 2024.

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