Public procurement process for creation of student accommodation launched

The Urban Development Corporation (SAU) has issued a public procurement notice for the creation of around 480 units of student accommodation on the site of the former Fritz Toussaint barracks in Ixelles. The process is being conducted in partnership with the universities ULB and VUB, which will rent out the units at affordable prices. This marks an important step forward in, the programme for the conversion of the old gendarmerie barracks into a new district which will also include family housing, university facilities, a food court and local facilities.

The public contract for student accommodation relates to four existing buildings on the site, three of which will be extensively renovated while the fourth will be rebuilt. The operation will represent an estimated gross area of around 20,000 m², and also includes:

  • amenities linked to the 480 or so student units: multipurpose common areas, bicycle parking, laundry facilities, accommodation for a janitor, etc.
  • the redevelopment, enhancement and renovation and/or construction of an ‘auditorium hub’ and associated premises (control room, foyer, etc.) in the space where the Kinograph is currently located. The universities will maintain the use of the auditorium as a neighbourhood cinema outside teaching hours, thus perpetuating this pillar of the transitional occupation programme See U.
  • the construction and provision of flat roof spaces for urban agriculture and related amenities (elevator, guardrail, water inlet and outlet, etc.);
  • commercial spaces whose allocation will be managed by the SAU to meet the needs of the local area as closely as possible, from a public perspective;
  • technical and storage spaces.


Rudi Vervoort, the Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, expressed delight at ‘the launch of this tender, which marks a very important step in the process of converting the old barracks into a new, diverse neighbourhood. This affordable student accommodation will be available in 2026, alongside family housing that we have decided should be 100% public. It will constitute an essential component of the future new Brussels district. The excellent collaboration between the SAU, the ULB and the VUB since the Region’s purchase of the site will result in the years ahead in the launch of a series of large-scale projects to make good on the Region’s ambition of offering the inhabitants of Brussels, in, a new space for living, studying, working and leisure time whose reputation will spread well beyond the Region’s boundaries.’

Gilles Delforge, director of the SAU, emphasised: ‘The SAU, ULB and VUB, which are jointly conducting this procurement process, want the student rooms, which will be rented out by the universities, to be available to the target audience at affordable prices. In order to maintain long-term public control, the Region, which owns the site, will grant the successful candidate a long lease on the renovated and newly constructed buildings for a period of 30 years. The winning candidate will be responsible for the design work, the large-scale renovation of three of the four buildings and demolition and reconstruction of the fourth; it will make all four buildings available to the universities and take care of their cleaning and maintenance for 30 years.’

Annemie Schaus and Caroline Pauwels, rectors of ULB and VUB, stated that ‘the initial ambition of bringing together on students from every background and from all corners of the earth is being achieved through the creation of this accommodation. This is a fundamental step which confirms the European and international character of our region and of our universities and the way we run them. Maintaining a local cinema is also an important factor that will help revitalise this site and make it part of the life of the community.’

  • The deadline for receiving requests to participate in the first phase of the process is 11.00 on September 13, 2021.
  • The public procurement notice is available at
The four buildings that are the object of the public procurement process for the creation of student accommodation. © (GlobalView)