Year | 2017 
Location | Brussels, Belgium

Client | Jan Zaman, Brussels Department of Planning & Mark Brearley, Atelier Master

The ‘Made In Brussels’ Live Project team has been working with urban planning experts and the Brussels Government with the aim of generating ideas for how to intensify industry within Brussels. European cities have seen a rapid growth in the knowledge and service industries within the past few decades, which has resulted in industry slowly being driven out of the city.

Our work fed into the second in a series of workshops involving various experts in both England and Belgium, and feeds into a larger body of work by Atelier Brussels. The aim of Atelier Brussels is to achieve a better match between the changing economy and the organisation of space for productive activities in the capital city’s metropolitan area. The Atelier was set up by Flemish and Brussels regional government in association with the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and Architecture Workroom Brussels.

The workshop that we were involved with was looking at the Southern Senne Valley area of Brussels in particular, and the client had identified 5 sites that they were looking at in the workshop. The sites are all situated to the south-west of Brussels, close to the motorway, high speed rail, and the Brussels-Charleroi Canal.

The industrial activities and infrastructure still prominent in Brussels are a unique asset for the future. The city and its outskirts are being revived by making room for innovative manufacturing activities, low-skilled jobs and a circular economy. New homes for a growing population are linked to the preservation and enhancement of the urban economy; from the post-industrial city to the productive city. Regenerating these industrial areas on the outskirts of the city would allow Brussels to capitalise on its geographical position and its established global trade and logistical reach.

We focused on three of the identified sites and developed a design toolkit for developing design solutions for different types of industrial sites. We developed three detailed proposals that utilised different methods in order to double the amount of industry on each site. We identified 9 key design principles at the beginning of the project to clearly define parameters for our approach to intensification. The 3 key strategies that we identified were “Build Up”, “Build Out” and “Infill”, which we applied to each site after detailed analysis of key characteristics and area use. We then applied this design toolkit to the fourth site identified by the client in order to test and modify our approach.

We hope that our design toolkit will be useful in the future for the client when applied to different industrial sites. The proposals that we developed will be used by the client during discussions with other governmental departments, landowners and industries in order to prompt discussions and hopefully be incorporated into real changes in the respective industrial areas.