As a preamble to the Europan 14 Forum of Results in Brussels (BE) on November 2018, and as a way to arouse interactivity at European level, Europan, Brussels Capital Region, the Bouwmeester Chief Architect and La Cambre Horta Faculty of Architecture invited the E14 rewareded teams (winners, runners-up and special mentions) for 4 days to consider and design scenarios on the session topic “Productive Cities” applied to the Belgian capital. Production within the scope of the city can have different aspects: production in the sense of heavy production, of food production or even of production related to new technologies. These three urban situations proposed for the workshop, all located within Brussels, gather these three aspects: Port City, Food Scape and Tech Boulevard.
WORKSHOP SITE 1 – NEPERDEE - ANDERLECHT
Food Production is an essential issue for the city in a context where circularity, durability, mobility and economic challenges concentrate the main focus. This site is located between Neerpede, a mostly agricultural and peri-urban area, the South-West region of Brussels and metro station COOVI/CERIA, representing an entry point to the urban context of the Belgian capital.
There are various objectives:
- considering the site of Neerpede, and especially the site of La Ferme du Chaudron (Cauldron’s Farm), as a wide food market supposed to “feed” the city,
- considering and rethinking the landscape of the farm and its agricultural surroundings,
- considering mobility in the site of Neerpede and mobility towards the city, while dealing with the metro station COOVI/CERIA as a turning point between this area with landscape issues dedicated to food production and the city and its consumers.
Several questions are raised in this zone:
1- What type of landscape project can integrate the fields located near the Cauldron’s Farm?
2- What mobility solutions could be designed to integrate this peri-urban area to the city?
3- What architectural project could be conceived for the Cauldon’s Farm, which is dedicated to be transformed into a wide food market for Brussels’ inhabitants?
4- How to think the peri-urban area of the metro station COOVI/CERIA and its surroundings as an entry point for food production to the city?
FOODSCAPE raised the question of the future relationship between agricultural productive areas and urban space.
The proposed site is located in the South-West of the Brussels region, at the edge of mainly agricultural semi-urban areas and large commercial and research complexes along the ring road. This creates land-use conflicts, urban sprawl VS productive landscape, accessibility vs. preservation.
The aim was to negotiate these problems, to find ways for a respectful use of existing resources, the opportunities for new mobilities and a fair and equal policy to manage the process. Paraphrasing Thomas Sieverts, it was about the activation of ZwischenLand, in order to keep agricultural production close to the heart of the city and in the hearts of the citizens, both literal and metaphorical.
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WORKSHOP SITE 2 – EVERE, BORDET - CHAUSSÉE D'HAECHT
The area Chaussée d'Haecht-Bordet, located in the North-Eastern part of the city, is a real functional mixture inherited from successive layers of urbanization. The site suffers from a lack of coherence and spatial quality between these different functional and housing zones, and from a lack of identity, public spaces, equipments and attractivity. In other words, the urban character is missing.
The productive feature is characterized by an mix of production, offices and wide commercial areas. The site is also impacted by the presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Belgian Army, which, when they moved out, left a wide wasteland of 90ha that needs to be reprogrammed. However, between this atypical urban landscape, there is the “village” of Evere, composed of small housing ilots which barely succeeds in building a proper identity in this context of concrete mutation, and in connecting itself to the neighbouring productive activities.
On top of that context, there is also the creation of the new metro station Bordet linking this zone to the city centre.
Three main questions are raised:
1- DA VINCI: What urban context for the area Da Vinci composed of various activities and industrial parcels? How to find a proper coherence between all industrial parcels, and to link them to their environment and mostly to the new metro station Bordet?
2- Chaussée d’Haecht: How to redesign the unused 90ha? How to plan and reprogram this area to bring back mixity? How to conceive an urban and coherent vision integrating future projects and opening up the site to the landscape and to the existing infrastructures?
3- Village of Evere: What can be protected at the patrimonial level? What type of mixity does the site need? What type of urbanization should be implemented? How to integrate this municipality, located in-between two highly industrialized areas, to the urban context using the connection to the metro station Bordet?
Tech Boulevard studies a nodal point along the boulevard that links Brussels centre and the airport, with the potential of becoming a technology hub.
The area has developed historically along the infrastructures of the day, which generated specific urban structures for each moment in time.
- The old horse-and-cart road connecting Brussels to Haecht structured first the small scale closed urban blocks and later produced the strip development hosting activities of a variety of types and scales.
- The railway created a sharp division along its trajectory but also a new center of gravity around Bordet station.
- The highway-like boulevard brought about the typical car-centric development of the XXth century with sprawling business parks, social housing districts and the NATO headquarters.
Each new line implied the segmentation of the area into different morphologies, each with different developments in height.
All these specific urban structures come together around the Bordet railway station and the future metro terminal, but despite the diversity of functions hosted in each urban structure they are segregated in quasi monofunctional patches that don't interact with each other. A toolbox of potential mixities reveals various possibilities for stacking new (circled in red) and existing functions.
The ambition of this vision is to capitalize on the existing diversity, break the mono functionality by means of new linkages, hybridized densification strategies and addition of strategic new functions to create a veritable productive urbanity.
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WORKSHOP SITE 3 – NEDER-OVER-HEEMBEEK - SCHAERBEEK FORMATION - BUDA
This area is located, near the territorial limit of the Flemish and Walloon region, in the Northern part of Brussels. It includes both sides of the canal: Neder-Over-Heembeek and Schaerbeek Formation.
Several issues are raised here, depending on the scales:
1- Schaerbeek Formation is facing huge mutations after the transfer of the station to another site. One part will be redesigned for economic activities, metropolitan equipment is to be developed creating a new neighbourhood open to the canal. The issues are also to optimize the productive factors to organize different types of transports for industries. It would also be the opportunity to enlarge the harbour to develop economic opportunities.
2- Neder-Over-Heembek, on the left side of the canal, has a highly impacted topography and lacks connections to the canal. The challenge is to imagine a landscape connection reaching the canal and the BRYC.
3- On the right side, the Senne River, mostly covered in Brussels, is running in open air. The issue is to think the river as an ecological area increasing life quality of neighbouring industries.
4- Brussels Royal Yacht Club is both a marina and a navigation school on the Northern part. The issue is to develop BRYC as a metropolitan space benefiting from different types of transports and to connect it to Neder-Over-Heembeek. The harbour nearby has to be considered to question its accessibility for both productive and residential activities.
5- On both sides, there are historical industries of the old brewery Marly and the flour production site of CERES. In the long terms, what could new uses and programs could be made of these sites, while keeping their historical features?
6- On the Northern side of the canal, SOLVAY area is being remodeled, buildings are being emptied to reprogram and upcycle some of them with direct links to the canal.
Looked at from above, the Port City Area appears as a huge multifunctional organ, inserted in the very core of Brussels.
Beside its heterogeneous productive content –logistics, industry, transportation, large commercial surfaces-, the area manages to establish a complex relationship with the rest of the city, and especially with the adjacent urban tissues.
Some of these relations have been thematized during the workshop, allowing three corresponding holistic approaches to the channel and its attached infrastructural and productive environment: The canal understood as a vein (ALONG), as a barrier (ACROSS) and as a front (TOWARDS).
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