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Brussels launches awards for best terraces

Jules Johnston/ The Brussels Times

Now that much of what was formerly parking has been transformed into outdoor terraces for eating and drinking in the Belgian capital after the reopening of the hospitality sector, Brussels is looking to award those terraces that have functionally or visually improved the public space.

In May of this year, the Brussels government approved a measure that exempted owners of restaurants and bars from having to obtain a permit for a temporary terrace, so long as they abided by a few basic rules.

The intent was to provide the sector, which has suffered tremendously throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with a way to increase their revenues by maximizing seating in a coronavirus-safe way.

“If you walk around in Brussels, you will notice that our initiative to turn parking spaces into terraces has been a huge success,” said State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet.

“On almost every corner, Brusselers can now connect with each other safely, enjoy a snack and a drink and support our bar and restaurant owners. But all those terraces are also eye-openers because they make us all think about our limited public space and how to make different use of it.”

The idea, says Smet, is that some of these spaces could be more permanently transformed into gardens, wide sidewalks, cycling paths, sports fields or playgrounds, or that some of the temporary terraces can be here to stay.

“By encouraging restaurant and bar owners to create a terrace that improves the public space, we are also encouraging a more extensive reflection on the use and quality of that public space in our city,” said Smet.

The creation of the “Brussels Terrace Award” is meant to celebrate the revival of the Horeca sector, and recognize the creativity of bar and restaurant owners in designing outdoor dining spaces.

“Since their reopening, bars and restaurants have been competing with each other in terms of creativity to enlarge their terraces and install them on the parking spaces they now can use,” said Barbara Trachte, State Secretary for Economic Transition.

“This ‘Brussels Terrace Award’ is an opportunity to encourage them to occupy public space in the most creative way and to celebrate the revival of the sector. It is also a good way to promote the reuse of materials.”

Brussels residents can nominate terraces that they feel show added value for the public space by sending a photo of the terrace, along with its address, to brusselsterraceaward@urban.brussels.

Each month, a jury will select one winner from the entries.

The monthly winner will receive an enamel plaque that can be placed on the terrace, plus a cash prize of €500.

The jury will use three criteria to judge: the temporary terrace must be installed on a parking space, it must add value to the public urban space and it must comply with the directives on the exemption of a planning permit.

The jury consists of representatives from urban.brussels, hub.brussels, the Brussels Bouwmeester/maître architecte (Chief Architect) and the Brussels Fédération Horeca.

The first “Brussels Terrace Award” will be given at the end of August.

More information can be found on the official website.

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