You probably know that public spaces around the Brussels South (Midi/Zuid) station are not the nicest areas to walk or spend your time. We continue with our But Why section, asking questions which aim to improve the life in our city. Currently there is an imitative and petition started by the citizens committee of Saint-Gilles which asks SNCB (Belgian Railway Company) and the Region of Brussels to do something about it.

Brussels-Midi is the largest railway station in our country. Every day, it welcomes 60,000 people, travelers and commuters. For foreign tourists, from London or Paris, this is the “door of Brussels”, the first contact with Belgium and our city.

Photo: (petition)

For the tourists as for all the inhabitants of Brussels (and in particular for the residents that live near the station) all the dirty and dilapidated surroundings create a real feeling of shame. The “public spaces” that surround the station are very poorly maintained (if at all?) and there are no signs of any interest to make the things better. And what about the ex- “Tri-postal” that lies next to it? A space of several thousand square meters, abandoned for 20 years, just two kilometers from the Grand Place! How to justify that such a space of amazing possibilities, so ideally located is left to decay even if the associative sectors, so many organizations from cultural and social sector, are in lack of space for their activities?

While waiting to get its new purpose, this brick-mammoth also has a heritage value – it is the work of the modernist architect Adrien Blomme to whom we owe the building of WIELS. Unfortunately, nowadays it offers a spectacle of desolation unworthy of a European capital: tagged walls, dirty sidewalk, broken tiles, shutters… The Belgian Railway company SNCB leaves the building with impunity in a terrible state which also creates a feeling of insecurity in the area and damages the image of Brussels. This is the kind of behavior that the competent authorities would not allow to any private owner.

As the residents and inhabitants of the whole district, Brussels commuters and all interested citizens, we ask the Brussels Region and SNCB to:

– Urgently take measures to renovate the area around the station in order to finally develop public spaces of quality, as provided in the Master Plan, in consultation with the inhabitants and in an open and participative environment.
– Valuing all the buildings, witnesses of the architectural modernism and clean the former Tri Postal building while it waits for the re-conversion.
– Quickly make possible temporary occupations (economic, social or artistic) without waiting for the start of the project, via agreements with associative operators, collectives and other interested organizations…
– Think about the future conversion of the postal sorting building in terms of mixed activities as regards the ground floor or even the upper parts (shops, nursery, workshops, Horeca and roof terrace…) so that public space remains alive outside the office hours, in order to change the dynamics in a neighborhood where there are already far too many blind facades.
Given the resources that will soon be invested nearby in the framework of the Urban Renovation Contract (CRU) “Avenue du Roi”, it would be regrettable that Avenue Fonsny leads to … a No man’s land.

Residents of the area and other Brussels citizens are invited to sign the petition