The Urban Development Corporation (SAU) has appointed a multidisciplinary Franco-Belgian team led by the architecture and urban planning firm Anyoji Beltrando to design and oversee the creation of public spaces (21.000 m2) on the Usquare.brussels site, as part of the conversion of the former Fritz Toussaint barracks at the corner of Boulevard Général Jacques and Avenue de la Couronne in Ixelles.
The assignment entrusted by the SAU to Anyoji Beltrando includes:
- the design of the public spaces (a park, squares, roads and various networks), including interfaces to be created with buildings developed by other project management teams on the site;
- the monitoring of the execution and the budgetary control of the works.
To carry it out, the firm Anyoji Beltrando (Paris, France) has formed a multidisciplinary Franco-Belgian team, joining forces with:
- Office of Landscape Morphology (landscaping – Paris, France);
- Studiebureau Jouret BVBA (infrastructure, health and safety coordination – Saint-Nicolas, Belgium);
- MK Engineering (building services engineering and energy – Brussels, Belgium);
- Agence ON (lighting design – Paris, France).
The Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort, commented: ‘This tender is an important step in the conversion of the site of the former gendarmerie school as part of the Usquare.brussels project coordinated by the SAU. These user-friendly public spaces, designed by the firm Anyoji Beltrando, will help ensure the overall coherence of the conversion work at the former barracks. Around these public spaces which will be accessible to residents, the site will accommodate family housing, facilities for academic activities, entrepreneurship and innovation, student housing and finally communal and local services...’
The SAU’s director, Gilles Delforge, stresses that ‘Anyoji Beltrando’s submission met the tender's requirements most closely, because it offered the most comprehensive vision of the entire site and went the furthest in its thinking, while leaving plenty of opportunity for participation for its implementation. It presents a very open, evolving and participatory approach. Moreover, it makes use of the intrinsic qualities of the site and of the Usquare.brussels project, while also seeking to integrate very faithfully the ongoing See U temporary occupation programme initiated by the SAU.’
The SAU received nine Belgian and foreign applications during the first phase of the public procurement process advertised at European level that it launched in April 2019 to appoint the multidisciplinary team that would take on this assignment. Out of these, the SAU selected five teams, based in particular on their past work and the composition of the proposed team(*), and invited them to participate in the second phase, for which they had to submit a project outline among other items.
As the SAU’s director, Gilles Delforge, explains, ‘The winning project proposed by Anyoji Beltrando perfectly meets the objectives set by the SAU: that the site should be open and connected to neighbouring districts; that the heritage of the old barracks and its distinctive forms should be protected and showcased; that unifying public spaces should be created as places for social encounters; that the landscaping proposals should be of a high quality; and that active modes of travel should be encouraged.’
The SAU also wants the redevelopment of the site’s public spaces to challenge regional and municipal practices in terms of choices of materials, furniture, design of structures, management methods and so on. In particular, it wants the design to ensure:
- the durability (use, maintenance and management) of the developments over time;
- straightforwardness and circularity in terms of deconstruction, investment, cleaning, maintenance and management;
- simple, robust, sustainable and economical developments;
- a co-production approach with project leaders, residents, future operators and users of the various initiatives associated with the conversion of the old barracks.
Work starts in 2022
Anyoji Beltrando is now embarking on the research and design phase as specified in the tender. The SAU expects to submit the application for planning permission by the end of 2020 and to start work on the development of the public spaces in the course of 2022.
(*) The SAU was assisted in its selection by an Advisory Committee consisting in particular of representatives of the Region’s Chief Architect, the universities (ULB and VUB), perspective.brussels, urban.brussels, the municipality of Ixelles, Brussels Environment and Brussels Mobility.