Bruzz recently published a very interesting interview with Pascal Smet, the new Brussels state secretary for urbanism, external relations & foreign trade. We were especially interested to learn more about the new plans for promotion of Brussels and other strategic actions that could help in re-branding our city-region. Asked about his vision for marketing Brussels abroad, Mr Smet noted the following:
Many people today see Brussels as an administrative city, boring Brussels. But once they are here, they want to stay. So the big challenge is to sell ourselves as an open-minded, cosmopolitan, future-oriented city. An important diplomatic center, but at the same time a good place to live.
And an investment city where a lot is possible. Take a look: a few years ago, no mobility player wanted to come to Brussels. Today we are one of the first cities they choose. I have already realized that mentality switch with my previous Mobility competence, now we will be able to do that in all areas.
Asked about urban design and landmark buildings in the city, Pascal Smet shared his main concerns:
As a minister of Mobility and Public Works, I was actually already involved in urban planning. We will continue that line: more public space, less space for the car, more space for the bicycle, greening of the streets. Something that strikes me in comparison with other cities is that we have few intriguing buildings. I am not talking about beautiful or ugly, because architecture is subjective. It is about buildings that challenge, that you look up or that have a face. They will sometimes be somewhat controversial.
Bruzz: Where should such a building come?
We are still in the general lines phase. We will be meeting with promoters and architects in the coming months to see how we can increase the level of ambition. A classic example of a missed opportunity is the Upsite tower on the canal. You can see it from all perspectives in the city, but it is very banal. The perspective view and the skyline have not always been taken into account in the past. As the capital of Belgium and Europe, we must use our buildings to develop pride in the city.
Let’s see indeed if Brussels will soon get some new landmark buildings that will capture the imagination of both locals and visitors. To read the whole interview (in Dutch) head to the website of Bruzz.