Brussels | North railway station

North Residency | Brussels, February 23, 2010

Last year, when visiting Brussels, MovingCities scanned Ground Euro – the European Quarter – and the area around La Femme & Parking58. This time around we look at the “North Residency”, a housing slab built in 1974, located the back of Brussels’ North Railway Station.

Barely 35 years old, the “North Residency” is one of the few remaining structures near the Brussels North Railway Station that shows the initial programmatic intentions of the Central Business District around this transportation hub; an intent to replace the 19th century urban tissue with a modern 20th century functional mix of living and working. The “North Residency” was built at the height, or was it the end?, of an era of large-scale urban transformation in Brussels. Belgian sociologist Albert Martens has done extensive research and writings about this evolution and its implications. In “Ten years of expropriations and evictions in the Brussels North Quarter (1965-1975): what are the legacies today?” (pdf alert!) he writes:

At the end of the 1960s, the urban area of Brussels underwent a modernisation process which deeply transformed certain neighbourhoods. Ten years earlier, Expo 58, the North-South junction and the construction of the state administrative district had already brought modernist architecture to Brussels. (…) The North Quarter was not able to prevent the destruction of 53ha of urban fabric and the eviction of more than 3,000 families.

The document is highly recommend for those with an interest in the debates, evolutions and dodgy business surrounding the transformation of Brussels, the Capital of Europe, in the 1960s and 1970s. Snapshots of the “North Residency”.

North Residency | Brussels, February 23, 2010

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