Mediapark Brussels

Bruxelles (Belgique)

Urban, ongoing

A flagship project for the region and beyond. The Gare de Midi rail station is the city’s largest port of entry – for both goods and people.

A port for the European capital from cities in Belgium and abroad (TGV), and, at the same time, an entryway to Cureghem, a neighbourhood which, hosting poor immigrants, is characterised by a high degree of “bottom-up globalisation”.

Currently, the development of the station is seen as a failure. A failure – yet another one – of rail policy?

After the demolition of the Northern Quarter, the lack of perspectives for the development of the Gare de l’Ouest and the controversies dogging the Gare de Luxembourg and the European Parliament, does this represent a failure of planned gentrification”?

The question is, therefore, an important one. Our project takes this context into account and attempts to rise to two challenges.

We intend to create a gateway to the emerging European capital and, at the same time, develop a port of entry to the working class neighbourhoods around the station, particularly the district of Cureghem and the Canal.

With this in mind, the project’s blueprint will include a mechanism for communication, participation and also co-production encompassing civil society.

Gateway to the european capital

Although Brussels hosts the European Union’s main institutions, it is not (yet) recognised as the principal city of the European project and is not designed as the focal point of the European imaginary.

Europe is much more than just its institutions and inter-governmental cooperation programmes.

Europe is a history, a socio-economic project, a “centre” and a series of “peripheries”, a network of cities, a complex entity that Brussels is capable of representing.

The European capital also represents urban Europe. People enter and exit the station via the city’s most cosmopolitan and socially mixed market square.

This should be reflected by the area in front of the station.

An urban space, which is busy during the working week as well as at weekend (the market), characterised not only by hybridity but also by diversity, and a social and cultural mix.

What goes on there is at once permanent and temporary, commercial and productive, top-end and popular.

The area offers services for tourists and business people and and places for residents …  

The project should focus on developing these aspects of exchange and hybridity, and create a coherent hub for the city.  

A certain degree of monumentality is required for this “gateway”, a tag that takes the form of something more than a mere hotel!).

We shall work not only on the entrance to the station but ensure that the viaduct is integrated into the ensemble.

We would also like to create an unambiguous link with the city, and shall therefore develop a strong, integrated vision for the adjacent public space.

Gateway to a multicultural, cosmopolitan City

There is an important quid pro quo. Cureghem, the area in which train passengers first arrive, is facing a demographic boom and hosts a poor population in which unemployment levels are high.

Furthermore, there is a lack of infrastructure in the district. 

The station’s second exit thus becomes a gateway to the triangle including the Gare du Midi, the abattoirs (the canal), and the city’s inner ring.

The task of carrying out a major project for the European capital on the “façade”-side of the station means that we are taking that side of the station very seriously.

The project thus involves a close focus on three aspects, namely the importance of (multi)cultural identity; affordable housing; and jobs (manufacturing and crafts, rather than services, which account for 91% of the Brussels job market).  

The public domain will also be more green – another shortcoming in these neighbourhoods – and work will be done on blue structures, including the entrance to the Senne in the downtown area.

 

We encourage a strong programmatic approach by implanting a TRANSIT centre on the plot behind the station.

This centre could also be used to host a museum dedicated to the history of immigration (a project which is sorely lacking in Brussels), combined with services, “single window” logistics, information, education (languages), health centres, mediation services, and alternative forms of temporary accommodation (inexpensive hotels, youth hostels, pieds à terre, etc).

 

This gateway will also have a strong Mediterranean flavour in terms of shops, hotels, restaurants and cafés.

 

The area and its gateway will be linked via the interior of the station with the St Gilles (Fonsy) area, which although already relatively well developed, nevertheless requires further infrastructure in order to take its place in the chain of public spaces around the Gare du Midi.  

The design of the interior of the station will encompass the redevelopment of the mail sorting centre.

Lastly, the southern area towards Wiels, a very long stretch of land that does not directly affect the station, should be take into account the Forest district cultural cluster and its link with the city.

We must maintain conduits and connections with more peripheral developments outside the city centre.

Location
Brussels

Project Owner
ADT-ATO > BRUXELLES MOBILITE > DEP-DSP

Programm
70,000m² of existing but restructured industrial infrastructure, 11,000m² of relocated industrial infrastructure, 18ha of communal green space, 15,000 new residents, 25km of ground floor retail and business premises, 150,000m² of tertiary “back office” facilities (13,000 employees), 380,000m² of international tertiary facilties (32,000 employees).

Surface
Twin-scale study: regional: 510ha; neighbourhood: 140ha

Date
2013

Mission

Development of a blueprint for the Gare du Midi neighbourhood and associated implementation measures

Partner
Leclercq Associés
Agence TER, landscape
IOSIS
Calvi
Mazet & Partners
Quillery (Eiffage Constrcution)
CMB

Team
FRANCOIS LECLERCQ, BOB 361, RICHEZ ASSOCIES, UNE FRABRIQUE DE LA VILLE, BASE PAYSAGISTES, TRANSITEC, 3E, ATELIER 59, AARTILL, GREISCH, ERIC CORIJN

Location
Brussels

Project Owner
ADT-ATO > BRUXELLES MOBILITE > DEP-DSP

Programm
70,000m² of existing but restructured industrial infrastructure, 11,000m² of relocated industrial infrastructure, 18ha of communal green space, 15,000 new residents, 25km of ground floor retail and business premises, 150,000m² of tertiary “back office” facilities (13,000 employees), 380,000m² of international tertiary facilties (32,000 employees).

Surface
Twin-scale study: regional: 510ha; neighbourhood: 140ha

Date
2013

Mission

Development of a blueprint for the Gare du Midi neighbourhood and associated implementation measures

Partner
Leclercq Associés
Agence TER, landscape
IOSIS
Calvi
Mazet & Partners
Quillery (Eiffage Constrcution)
CMB

Team
FRANCOIS LECLERCQ, BOB 361, RICHEZ ASSOCIES, UNE FRABRIQUE DE LA VILLE, BASE PAYSAGISTES, TRANSITEC, 3E, ATELIER 59, AARTILL, GREISCH, ERIC CORIJN