The Urban Development Corporation (SAU) has invited local residents, temporary occupants and students to participate in the design phase of the redevelopment of 18,000 m2 of public spaces on the site of the former Fritz Toussaint barracks at the corner of Boulevard Général Jacques and Avenue de la Couronne in Ixelles. The goal of the SAU, which is coordinating the conversion of the barracks (the Usquare.brussels project), is to involve local residents, ‘See Users’ and students in the design of these spaces before the usual legally required phases of information provision and consultation in the period when the planning permission application is being drawn up.
The first two participatory workshops were held by videoconference, with around thirty SeeUsers in mid-December, and then with some forty local residents, students and employees of ULB and VUB on 14 January. During these first meetings, a preliminary plan for the development of the public spaces was presented by the architects and urban planners of the firm Anyoji-Beltrando, which the SAU appointed at the end of 2019 to design and monitor the creation of the public spaces on the Usquare.brussels site (more information here). The SAU and Anyoji-Beltrando teams then answered questions and collected comments and suggestions from the participants.
As Gilles Delforge, the SAU’s Director, points out, ‘It was out of the question for the SAU to start the phase of designing the public spaces without first collecting comments and suggestions from local residents, See Users, students and employees of ULB and VUB, who will be the users of the Usquare.brussels site once the barracks conversion is completed. This participatory process reflects the SAU’s desire to innovate and to involve stakeholders in its approach to managing major projects for new districts and new facilities of regional significance in the Brussels Region.’
The SAU will be organising several more participatory workshops in the next few months with participants from the first two meetings who have expressed a willingness to devote some time to being actively involved in this process.
The design of the public spaces is an important step for Usquare.brussels, because they will contribute to the future new district’s unique atmosphere and its quality of life as well as to the coherence of its components: family housing, facilities for academic activities, entrepreneurship and innovation, student housing and communal and local services.