Water, plants and bikes to dominate new Usquare neighbourhood in Ixelles
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    Water, plants and bikes to dominate new Usquare neighbourhood in Ixelles

    © Anyoji Beltrando

    A Paris-based architecture firm has released designs for the creation of a new city neighbourhood in Ixelles, on the site of the former gendarmerie barracks along the Boulevard General Jacques opposite Etterbeek station.

    The firm of Anyoji Beltrando will turn the walled site covering some four hectares into a sustainable neighbourhood containing student accommodation, pubic housing, neighbourhood facilities and university buildings.

    At the same time, the historic buildings of the barracks will be retained and renovated. The former parade square becomes a public plaza, and on the rue Toussaint comes a city park with commercial premises on the ground floor.

    The aim, the firm said, is to create a series of public spaces that flow seamlessly into each other, with special attention to greenery, water treatment, street furniture, lighting and parking infrastructure, while making room for the bicycle.

    The plan involves making the entire site bike-friendly. The paving stones remain as they are, but will be relaid to allow rainwater to pass through, while water-courses are created elsewhere.

    The firm said it looked forward to getting the opinions of existing and future residents, as well as local organisations and interested associations, even during the construction process.

    Anyoji Beltrando won the contract in competition with nine other applicants. “The accessibility of the site and the connections with surrounding quarters, respect for the heritage and the creation of a connecting public space, together with the quality of the landscaping aspects were what convinced us,” said Gilles Delforge, director of the Society for Urban Design, which awarded the contract.

    This dossier went furthest in its thought process,” he said. “They created a lot of room for other opinions. Theirs is a very open, evolutionary and participative approach.”

    The organisers hope to apply for planning permission by the end of the year, with works due to start in 2022.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times