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New Fontainas neighbourhood opens next to pedestrian zone

10:22 22/05/2019

A new €15 million neighbourhood was inaugurated on Tuesday at the southernmost end of Brussels' pedestrian zone, featuring open space, housing, shops and a restaurant with terrace.

Where once stood the Philips factory just off the Place Fontainas, there is now a multi-use space that exemplifies the city's pledge of creating neighbourhoods where everything is less than 10 minutes' walk away.

The former industrial site now has a green space including orchards, community gardens, rolling lawns, a play area, a dry heath and 76 trees of 40 species. There is also what is being called an informal sports field. An underground system captures rain water for re-use.

For housing there are 22 social and middle income flats including one designed for people with reduced mobility, 35 student studios and a crèche. There is also a 200m² multi-use community room that is completely soundproofed (including the large windows) so that people can enjoy a festive occasion without disturbing the neighbors.

For more formal sports activities there is a multi-purpose sports hall of almost 800m² that is located underground. By burying some of the facilities, the designing architecural firm B612 Associates has maximised the number of facilities while keeping the overall site open and green. The rain water system and the underground sports hall have created knolls and elevations that add to the open feeling.

B612 has eschewed the more common rectangle or curved forms for its buildings and instead has used varying angles to create interwoven facets. Due to its location and its open borders the park connects various neighbourhoods to the pedestrian zone and has been nicknamed the exclamation mark of the pedestrian zone.

Written by Richard Harris