The Brussels Centre Observatory is looking for volunteers for a study on the pedestrian area. We want to ask you a few questions about how to use the pedestrian area, and how low interventions will change your daily habits. That can be done through an interview or through an app on your smartphone. Would you like to contribute to a sustainable mobility in which the needs of citizens are central? Do you want your voice to be heard? This is your chance!
In 2015, a vast project to pedestrianize Brussels’ main central avenues was launched, transforming the face of a city-center designed for cars in the decades following the war. The study aims to make an in-depth assessment of how this pedestrianization affects lifestyles. Its originality lies in its focus both on how activities are carried out in the constructed and social environment of the pedestrian zone, and how these activities fit into each individual’s life. The purpose of this study is to understand what lessons we can draw from a project aimed at drastic car reduction in the heart of a major city, and to assess to what extent such a project can help the transition towards more desired and sustainable lifestyles.
The research aims to understand how the organization of the pedestrian zone has impacted the whole lifestyle of those who frequent it, as well as those who used to visit it and those who live in the area without necessarily frequenting it. Inhabitants of the pedestrian zone, people who work in the area, occasional or regular users, inhabitants of the city of Brussels, former users of the city-center: all these different people may have been impacted by the development of the pedestrian zone. The hypothesis is therefore that the pedestrianization project has had an impact not only on the regular users of the city center, who are visible in the public space, but also on those who aren’t regularly seen there, whose entire range of activities, from shopping habits to leisure, mobility and social connections may also have been reconfigured. The project may have also influenced their representations of the area, of their living environment, of Brussels or even their opinion on the pedestrianization of city centers.
It is also postulated that for those who use the new pedestrian zone today, traces of these changes in their lifestyles will be directly visible in the public space. The diverse populations and uses that inhabit this space, coupled with the heterogeneity of the redevelopment which is still in different stages of advancement, makes this whole pedestrian zone a true laboratory for studying the social interactions, mobilities and behaviors of those who use it. Three sub-hypotheses can thus be proposed:
- The morphological and material characteristics of the different areas involved in the project will have an impact on the activities and experiences of users.
- From being a transit route, forming an urban highway, the pedestrian zone will become a destination in itself, reconfiguring activities and mobilities.
- Because of its location in the multifunctional center of Brussels, its social composition and that of the surrounding neighborhoods, and its attractiveness on a regional, national and international scale, the new pedestrian zone is a privileged space of social mixing.
To learn more about this research, visit the Mobile Lives Forum website.