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Remodelling the central boulevards of Brussels

The Brussels_Low_Line project

The debate on Brussels’ central boulevards, situated in the very heart of the city, is emblematic for the conflicting visions on urban development and the role of public space. SumProject, since winning the design competition in 2004, has played an effective role, sometimes behind the scenes, other times by engaging in the public debate, through proposals and visualizations, in order to install the idea that a car-free environment is the sustainable vision to pursue.

After the infamous pre-metro works in the seventies, the redesigning of the Haussmannian boulevards was generated out of a driver’s seat and at a speed of 60 km/h. The challenge now was to invent a contemporary and robust urban framework for the nineteenth-century typology of a boulevard, capturing the wide range of demands and providing a qualitative public space at a different pace.

The boulevards’ new structure, symmetrically divided in different sections, with a central passage for those in a hurry, flanked by places to sit and meet, with seats, terraces or greenery and adjacent room for the “flaneur” along the store fronts, is as simple as it is effective. The inherent logic has been adapted immediately by the users and structures the urban life on the boulevards in its cycles of day and night, workdays and weekends, seasonal activities...

On a larger scale, the project strengthens the lateral flows, stitching together city parts by transforming cross points in meeting places and stretching out in the side streets.

Client: Beliris, City of Brussels, Brussels Mobility 2014 - 2021

Concept: SumProject

Engineering: B-Group Greisch



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