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Plan for ‘urban forest’ to run from Botanique all the way to Central Station
How would you like that 15-minute walk from Botanique to Central Station to be through a forest? That will eventually be reality as landscape architects Bureau Bas Smets reveal their master plan for Slopes of the Pentagon.
The bureau is working with Brussels-City to create an ‘urban forest’ that would run from Boulevard Pachéco at Botanique, down Berlaimont, past Central Station and on to Place de l'Albertine. The ambitious project is meant to create green space while connecting the neighbourhoods along the way.
“Redeveloping the North-South axis is essential to reconnect the neighbourhoods and to create new meeting places in the area,” says Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close. “This is how we preserve urban diversity. The reconnection of the slopes of the Palace of Justice with the Marolles district was the first step in the realisation of this vision.”
The North-Sound train connection worked to split central Brussels in two when construction started in 1900. It was controversial then – as now – since it ripped away much of medieval Brussels and led to hundreds of houses being demolished. “The consequences of this operation can still be widely felt,” according to a Brussels-City press statement, “and is only heightened by the differing levels flanked by the rail connection.”
According to urban development city councillor, Ans Persoons, this part of Brussels is “marked by scars from the past” but has “enormous potential”. Together with Bureau Bas Smets, the city wants to “reimagine this zone over the next decade to the extent that it becomes an example at European level for planting trees, capturing water and encouraging non-motorised transport. We can make this neighbourhood a more pleasant place in which to live and to visit but also create a more climate resilient Brussels.”
To that end, the architectural designs include a system for water sustainability that would see rainwater flowing into the forested area rather than to the lower part of town. The urban forest itself would work to combat overheating caused by concrete and asphalt as heat waves become the norm.
The project is in its infancy but is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The Brussels-based Bureau Bas Smets is responsible for many recent projects in the capital, including the park and human rights memorial at Tour & Taxis, improvements at Josaphat park and the redevelopment of Boulevard Saint-Lazare in Saint-Josse.
Photos: Bureau Bas Smets’ winning designs for the Slopes master plan, from Boulevard Pachéco to Place d’lAlbertine must still be studied before any definitive plans are made. The image top is a reimagining of Rue Ravenstein
©Bureau Bas Smets