Green light is given for amended permit for the redevelopment of Schuman roundabout in the Brussels’ EU quarter. State Secretary for Urbanism and Heritage Ans Persoons confirmed that urban.brussels has issued the amended permit and that works can begin. This means that the notoriously busy roundabout now has a chance to evolve into a real urban square. Specifically, Avenue de la Joyeuse Entrée will have two-way traffic, in accordance with the agreement between Brussels Mobility and the municipality of Etterbeek.
After an intense, year-long process, this project is finally becoming a reality. “The Schuman Square was a roundabout for cars. Now it will finally become a square for everyone in the heart of the European Quarter. Thanks to this project, Brussels confirms its status as the capital of Europe!” affirms Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and International & European relations.
Architectural firms COBE and BRUT designed this square that will be a new symbol of Europe in Brussels. One that will highlight the evolution of the European Quarter into a mixed neighbourhood for people. It will have plants and trees and cycle lanes. This shows our ambition, and that of the European institutions, to see cities as spaces where people live and meet each other and where plants and trees are also given space.Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and International & European relations
Karine Lalieux, Federal Minister in charge of BELIRIS expressed her wish for the swift start of works – “With Beliris as project owner for the redevelopment of the Schuman Square, we are redesigning the beating heart of Europe. This visionary project, mainly financed by the European recovery plan, will make the public space around the European institutions more accessible to all road users. Beliris is delighted that the permit has been issued and that therefore the works can start as soon as possible.”
Elke Van den Brandt, Minister of Mobility and Public Works believes that the project will offer a greener and more welcoming square but also more safety for cyclists and pedestrians and better accessibility for persons with reduced mobility.
In 2015, Pascal Smet and Rudi Vervoort reached a political agreement to thoroughly redevelop the Schuman square in the heart of the European Quarter in Brussels.
That same year, Brussels Mobility launched an international architecture competition, in which more than 20 firms participated. The competition was supervised by the Brussels chief architect. Five firms were selected to submit a design. In 2017, the design by the Danish architectural firm COBE and their Brussels colleagues BRUT was chosen as the winner.
COBE, with headquarters in Copenhagen, is a major international architectural firm that has won several awards. BRUT is a young Brussels office with ambitions for quality public space in the city.
“This is another important step for the capital of Europe. The Schuman Square and its surroundings will be redesigned to turn it into a real place where people can engage with each other. With several European institutions around it, this Brussels intersection is the heart of Europe. Thanks to the redevelopment, residents will also have easier access to areas that used to be less accessible.” concludes Philippe Close, mayor of the City of Brussels.
After various workshops and consultations with residents, traders and people who use the square, the original design was fine-tuned by the team of architects, in close cooperation with Brussels Mobility and Beliris. The initial consultations didn’t go smoothly as many local associations voiced their concerns for the proposed redevelopment of the Schuman area.
In 2019, Brussels Mobility submitted a permit application. The project then went through the urban planning procedure, including the public consultation and the advice from the consultation committee. In April 2021, after consultation between Pascal Smet, Elke van den Brandt, Philippe Close and Ans Persoons, the decision was made to adjust some aspects of the project.
The urban planning administration urban.brussels then formulated an official question, in consultation with Brussels Mobility. Among other things, the possibility of providing more plants and planting additional trees in the square had to be examined, as well as ensuring access to the square for people with reduced mobility and the visually impaired. The planning permit was delivered at the end of 2021. However, after discussions with the municipality of Etterbeek, Brussels Mobility decided to make adjustments.
In terms of mobility, the newly approved plans introduce two-way traffic on Avenue de la Joyeuse Entrée, in accordance with the agreement between Brussels Mobility and Etterbeek.
Project owner Beliris can now carry out the works. The project has been included in the federal government’s recovery plan, as a result of which it can count on 21 million euros of European funding.
A mirror canopy, new symbol of the European quarter?
The design’s general philosophy reflects the central location of the Schuman square and is based on concentric circles, which recur throughout the whole design. The new square will become a roundabout-shape space with stairs and with a modern steel canopy and green roof under which visitors and residents can relax.
There will be a large pedestrian area around the square, with benches, bushes and almost 100 trees. The Petite rue de la Loi area will also be completely redesigned. This way, the Cinquantenaire Park will be connected with the square and it will be possible to have a lovely walk from the park to the Council and Commission buildings. The redesigned Schuman square will thus form the new entrance to the Cinquantenaire Park. Car traffic will be limited between Avenue de Cortenbergh and Rue de la Loi. A safe, ochre cycle path will connect these two axes.
According to the plans, the steel structure in the lower centre of the square will reflect both square and people and will become a new eye-catcher in the city. A green roof will be installed on top of this mirror structure. The new Schuman square is designed in such a way that activities and events can be organised in a practical way.
Photos: ©COBE + BRUT