Les Quais

Espaces Mobilites: The quai du Commerce forms an ensemble consisting of a wide roadway with a tram line, in the middle of which is a verge bordered with a symmetrical alignment of plane trees and a crossroads, which is used as a roundabout. It links the place de l’Yzer with the other historical embankments or ‘quais’ (on the edge of the Senne, which now runs underground) from the Brussels Centre-Ville [city centre] and which is a link in the green spaces walking route / ‘promenade verte’ that runs all around the Brussels Region.

Before the project

For a number of years this crossroads has effectively been oversized and a source of a safety concerns both for drivers and pedestrians. It was regrettable that there was no special provision made for cyclists, and the tram crossed the section on a curve without the protection of concrete blocks, which conferred a temporary appearance upon the overall layout.
The wide central verge of the ‘quai’/embankment was at the time very little used given its state of neglect. In the summer, the young people of the district sometimes played ball games there, although they preferred the refurbished space on the quai au Foin. In addition, this verge was bounded either side by areas reserved for car use and very unappealing for pedestrians or cyclists.

Objectives of the project

– Enhancement of the public space overall
– Developing and encouraging recreational and leisure activities (Promenade verte / green walking
route)
– Improving road safety (speed reduction – Centre-Ville, 30 zone)
– Making safe the Centre-Ville cycle access routes
– Developing scope for pedestrian mobility (and for individuals with reduced mobility)

This therefore involves enhancing the quality of life of the inhabitants and the user-friendliness of the public spaces in the Centre-Ville. Special emphasis is placed upon the enhancement of the intersection of the remarkable and historical public spaces of the district, which are located at the current quai du Commerce roundabout.

The project

Formerly, this vast crossroads was entirely devoted to cars. The project aims to reverse this situation, by giving this location back to pedestrians and bicycles. It is now both a meeting place and a place through which people pass, a real articulation point. This is an urban space on a single level where different public spaces join together, opening up diverse visual perspectives in the middle of which is located a pond which is crossed by tram. The presence of stone and water firmly stiuates the place within its environment and its history. The crossroads is a place for meeting and relaxation. The continuity of the promenade from one quai to the other has thus been reinstated and the water has been put back where it once was.

In order to achieve this, every effort was made to ensure that the presence of the car was as discreet as possible, so that is was safely integrated into the landscape. The crossroads, the verge and the park in the immediate vicinity of the crossroads are physically connected by removals or restrictions of traffic and geometric continuities and/or surfaces. The tram now crosses in a place where it glides peacefully over the water and enables the passengers to see their reflection …

The verge is now accessible to all manner of active users (pedestrians, cyclists, roller skaters, etc….) and it has had restored to it its role of placing into perspective the succession of old quais for walking but also for local people spending time there, who now go there to talk and share experiences, etc… All the trees there have been retained, the old cobbles have given way to an ochre flat, continuous surface (in keeping with the boulevard d’Ypres which is next to it). The areas around the base of the trees have been tidied and low-growth planting now surrounds them, Finally, chairs configured as for small “sitting rooms”, punctuate the promenade and invite passers by to stop there.

Data

Landscape Architecture: Espaces Mobilites
Client: Ville de Bruxelles
Completed: 2014
Design budget: EUR 63.500
Realisation budget: EUR 1.230.000
Area: 6.550m2

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