combining heritage, circularity, resources efficiency in a sustainable place by melting knowledge, urban life and urban nature :

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Submission Summary
The Usquare site is one of the priority development poles identified in the Brussels' Capital Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. The Region, owner of the site since 2018, wants to convert this enclosed military complex into an open, sustainable and diverse district for the 21st century living. The Region works closely with two universities that are also involved in the project. The Region implements a new resilient planning approach by linking 2 new regional tools: the spatial planning tool Plan d’Aménagement Directeur (Master Development Plan) combines regulatory components with strategic ones. This flexible planning tool can evolve over time and accommodate new uses and needs and the circular economy tool Programme Regional d’Economie Circulaire (Regional Program for Circular Economy) which has received European awards for innovation by combining sectoral actions with territorial ones. -A post-oil district combining heritage with contemporary architecture- Special attention is given in the smart upgrade and reuse of the architectural heritage. Four “1906 barracks” will be upgraded into 600 housings for international students while 200 affordable dwellings for low and middle-incomes households will be built. Some of the scenic buildings will be upgraded as a residence for international academic researchers, a student counter, a fablab and an incubator for innovative young entrepreneurs. The remaining buildings will be converted into an interuniversity research cluster for sustainability and an interpretation center. -A post oil district bringing at a human scale a renewed urban metabolism- The post-oil city is not the sum of car free districts. It’s also the development of “the neighborhood city” concept granting all needs at reach by foot or bicycle. In order to reduce needs to motorized transport, the Usquare residents and students will find neighborhood facilities and an educational food hall with a local organic food market and craft-food activities. Sustainability in food will connect community, inhabitants and attending academics. The project plans high energy-efficiency reconversion of buildings, a smart power management and if possible the production of renewable energy. The European Union (ERDF) funds the exemplariness of this environment-friendly approach. Thanks to parks, ponds and gardens, the project will reduce heat island effect and improve the water permeability of soils. As much as possible, all public park and green areas will have parts dedicated to urban agriculture. -A post oil economic ecosystem allowing a circular urban renewal- Usquare district will be a comprehensive circular neighborhood in its both development and implementation. First, during the design and construction phase, the project will favor buildings reconversion, the reuse of materials in the new buildings and thus limits construction waste. Second, the site aims to create an innovative local urban metabolism connecting the different projects together in circular way (i.e. the garbage generated by foodhall could become biocompost used as raw material for urban agriculture (Universite Libre de Bruxelles - IGEAT undergoing study)). The conception in the objective of a carbon-neutral economy is not limited to buildings and businesses: the academic investment on site will create new jobs and opportunities, especially in academic researches focused on sustainability. Community’s empowerment, social diversity could thus also come from the interpretation center focused on sustainability, the wide-open Fab-lab, the public spaces and commons. Usquare district is to be finished by 2025. Meanwhile, it is hosting the biggest temporary occupation in Belgium providing a wonderful opportunity for social, economic and environmental experimentations. Usquare district has to be considered as a regional project that brings a comprehensive urban approach to post oil city planning. This pilot project will bring feedback, solutions developed will be carried out in others regional projects.
Submission ID :
Submission Type
Submission Track
1: Understanding Urban Metabolism (Brussels' planning agency)
Project manager
, (Brussels' planning agency)
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