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REQUALIFICATION OF OLD PLACES IN BRUSSELS: Increasing Density, Improving Urbanity

By : Priscilla Ananian And Bernard Declève

Brussels Capital Region has to deal with urban conflicts arising from the different kinds of land uses. On the one hand the process of metropolisation has intensified the inner city's land use through residential, economic and urban development and on the other hand this same process has contributed to the expansion and sprawling of the city beyond its administrative borders. The city's main challenge is to ensure the cohabitation of different urban forms and densities in a multi-scale level related to metropolitan and local functions (Ananian P. 2010). Brussels, originally an industrial city, has become an administrative centre, generating a series of disaffected areas. Urban regeneration and sustainable development policies aim to improve the standard of living through urban, social and economic enhancements. Indeed, these policies deal with the construction, renovation and requalification of obsolete areas into new dwelling complexes. In this context, the present article shows the results of a broader research commissioned by the Brussels Capital Region on residential densification between 1989 and 2007(Declève B. Ananian P. et al 2009). Through the analysis of this inventory, we have identified three main techniques concerning the requalification of old places into residential uses: firstly the reurbanisation of brownfields generated by the delocalisation of large facilities; secondly the requalification and reconversion of isolated buildings (abandoned and obsolete industrial and office buildings) and last but not least, the recycling of terrains merged into the urban fabric of old neighbourhoods. Following two methodological approaches (morphological observation and analysis of social perception), this research has shown us that, in the last twenty years of housing production in Brussels, the main abandoned buildings and sites that were available were requalified, increasing density and improving urbanity through the diversity of the urban forms adopted for the public and private spaces.
Keywords : Urban Regeneration, Requalification, Housing Production, Density, Urbanity.

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