A new mixed campus that will include international centres, along with homes for some 600 university students and 200 families is to be completed by the year 2025 in a former barracks that used to house the Ecole royale de Gendarmerie, the royal gendarmerie school, in Ixelles. An architectural design competition for the renovation and reconversion of some of the buildings was launched on Monday morning by federal ministers Didier Reynders (Foreign Affairs) and Jan Jambon (Interior), Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort and the heads of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) universities.
The Brussels Region will buy back the 3.85-ha site from the federal police, by January 2018, for the sum of 30 million euros.
According to Vervoort, ULB and VUB will receive support to the tune of 11 million euros via the EU’s structural funds to set up an international reception centre, a museum and a new interdisciplinary, inter-university research centre on urban sustainable development issues in the main building of the site, located off Boulevard Général Jacques.
The buildings at the corner of Boulevard Général Jacques and Avenue de la Couronne, along with Rue Wytsman, will house the first Institut bruxellois d’Etudes Avancées (Brussels Institute of Advanced Studies). Deans Yvon Englert (ULB) and Caroline Pauwels (VUB) said these would be a major component of the project, dubbed Usquare.brussels.
A hall devoted to sustainable nutrition will be created in the old equestrian riding arena located in the centre of the site. A projection room with a 300-seat capacity will also be maintained.
Eventually, sections of the site will remain open so that area residents can gain access to public places there, such as a large esplanade to be built in front of the former riding arena.
The gradual building of areas meant for the public, and the renovation and reconversion of buildings housing shared university facilities will have been completed by 2023. The reconversion and construction of areas earmarked for housing and neighbourhood facilities will have finished by 2025.