Toison d'Or plans explained

Tim Harrup

The architectural bureau Pierre Lallemand & Partners has just presented its philosophy behind the extremely ambitious project to totally transform the Avenue de la Toison d’Or and the Boulevard de Waterloo, in uptown Brussels.

First of all, Pierre Lallemand said that the project as set out, and which is now awaiting its various administrative procedures, responds to the desire of the City of Brussels to create an all-inclusive city. His bureau has therefore created a living, vibrant project with the aim of not only making people want to come to this district, but of boosting economic activity too. He said that currently, this district has no personality, and does not cater to visitors’ needs. Interestingly, he pointed out that the Champs Elysées is 5 metres less wide than the two Brussels boulevards and the roadway in between, but has succeeded in creating two ‘Ramblas’ for shoppers and others.

The desire to create what people actually want is further reflected by the original approach. Some 6 or 7 workshops have taken place, involving around 60 local associations, federations, retailers… And the major partners of the project also demonstrate the inclusive and democratic nature of the approach: Brussels Exclusive Labels, whose 75 members employ 3,000, Brussels Uptown with 83 retailers, the BECI which represents two thirds of employment in Brussels, mobility operator Touring and Belgian parking federation FBS. It was also pointed out that with so many of the businesses actually impacted by the proposed changes being involved from the start, the retailers and others welcome this plan, which was not the case for the pedestrianisation of the area around the stock exchange…!

In practical terms, Pierre Lallemand pointed out that there would be a one-way cycle route, slow moving traffic, a central walkway for all to use with zones for new modes such as pavement scooters,, a student facility, a botanical garden, a cultural and exhibition space and more. Many of the existing surface parking spaces disappear, as does the petrol station.

The central theme of the materials is wood and glass. Trees would be positioned along the 500 metres between the Place Louise and the Porte de Namur, and to further add to the attractiveness, these would be Magnolias and Japanese Cherries. A full range of attractive street furniture is also part of the plan. Pierre Lallemand also said that the project was designed to be able to evolve over time.