Bringing people, city and knowledge together: such is the ambition of Usquare.brussels.
The name in itself symbolises this conjunction:
- the capital U refers to the universities, ULB and VUB, which are involved in the project;
- ‘square’ refers to the quadrangle of the historic enclosed site where this new district will be created, but also evokes the potential for social encounters in public spaces and local facilities;
- the combination of ‘U’ and ‘square’ embodies the union of universities and city around a project that will benefit the citizens;
- and ‘brussels’ locates the whole project firmly in the Brussels Region.
This union results from the conjunction of two proactive initiatives.
First, that of ULB and VUB, which wish to become more integrated in the city and engage in its development for the benefit of its people as they prepare to create together a new expertise centre of international importance.
And second, that of the Brussels-Capital Region, which wishes to meet the needs of its inhabitants in terms of housing, facilities and quality of life, and aims to reinforce its status as Belgium's largest student city, a leading university hub in Europe, a national capital and international metropolis, a crossroads of cultures amid a plethora of initiatives in collective intelligence, research and innovation. The Regional Government believes that promoting these assets, increasing the integration of the student population in the urban fabric and giving a warm welcome to these positive initiatives in the region will be beneficial to its development and hence to the people of Brussels.
The Region and the universities have seized the opportunity to put these intentions into practice offered by the departure of the Federal Police from the former barracks in Ixelles, which are ideally located near several major campuses, at a place where a number of young and vibrant districts converge, and on a public transport hub.
The Region has therefore decided to purchase this former military complex from the Federal State with a view to:
- opening it up to the city;
- promoting its heritage;
- developing family and student housing;
- laying out welcoming and attractive public spaces;
- creating local facilities that are open to use by residents of neighbouring districts;
- and accommodating a sustainable food court and a pioneering project of the universities relating to research, knowledge dissemination and sharing, international exchanges, entrepreneurship and innovation, certain elements of which are supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Usquare thus involves the conversion of an enclosed military complex from the early 20th century into an open and diverse living space fit for the 21st century: not a campus, but a genuine new part of the city, with all that this implies, a future Brussels district that is diverse and dynamic, urban and welcoming, university-centred and international, sustainable and innovative.