August 20 2014

Redevelopment & Community Garden Controversy in La Querelle, Brussels, Belgium

New housing buildings in the Marolles neighborhood of Brussels, BelgiumThe neighborhood of la Querelle, located in the heart of Les Marolles, is due to benefit from a profound renewal. This construction, which will be launched soon, is bound to offer a better living environment for the tenants of various tower blocks, as well as to all residents of this historic neighborhood.

Born from a partnership between the region of Brussels-Capital, the City of Brussels, and the Foyer Bruxellois real estate corporation, this large project is expected to include a thorough renovation of the Tanneurs-Lavoir building as well as the redevelopment of the la Querelle square, the complete renovation of various towers (façades, insulation, and frames), the refurbishment of elevators, boiler rooms, alterations to the grounds, renovations of the basketball court as well as the playground designed for 8-12 year olds, and even the construction of a childcare center with 48 open spots to welcome Brussels’ younger residents.

At the corner of la Querelle and Tanneurs streets, a small building will be built to offer 4 new social housing units. It will be made up of a 2 bedroom apartment, two 3 bedroom apartments, and one 4 bedroom apartment. It will also include a meeting place in response to the demands of the neighborhood’s inhabitants. Undoubtedly, this building plot is a relevant response to the glaring need for housing experienced by our region, especially in this neighborhood of the city.

In April 2014, a committee of locals set up an urban garden on ground destined to welcome the new housing. Despite the absence of consultation, and therefore authorization by Foyer Bruxellois, things were grown without a preliminary study being done to determine its viability. Nevertheless, the Foyer Bruxellois and the bourgmestre (mayor) of the city of Brussels wanted to recognize and support this citizen initiative that unquestionably helps to breathe life into the the neighborhood. And so, after several exchanges between the residents and the committee involved, an alternative solution was proposed in order to allow the continued activity of the vegetable garden in the middle of the neighborhood, while not impeding the housing construction project.Gardening beds in the urban garden of Marolles in Brussels, Belgium. Credit: Ouriaghli Mohamed.Based on a consultation by a committee of gardening experts, the authorities proposed to relocate the garden to a larger and sunnier plot of land that is even more predisposed to this purpose. Located several meters down la Querelle Street, it will feature gardening beds intended to be cultivated “in complete peace,” in order to guarantee the quality of the products and to be able to allow children to taste the fruits of their labor.

During the public meeting held on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by the Foyer Bruxellois, the aforementioned solution was proposed to the residents who were present, and accepted it unanimously. On July 30, 2014 another meeting with representatives of the committee also ended in a favorable verdict. In this manner, Brussels’ city authorities were able to meet their objective while responding positively to the neighborhood’s citizen dynamics expressed through a project that should present the inhabitants with a better living environment.

Have citizen initiatives been received favorably by authorities in your city? What were the activities?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 9:16 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Marcus Khoury, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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