In 2021, the City of Brussels’ green space department submitted a building application to redevelop Square Marguerite Duras. However, Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet did not receive these plans with enthusiasm. Reason? Not ambitious enough.
The consultation committee shared his opinion by imposing many conditions.
Subsequent consultations between the city authorities and urban.brussels focused on the project’s integration in the urban context, traffic safety, comfort for pedestrians and cyclists, planting more trees and rainwater management.
“Urbanism means developing a long-term vision for the city and setting project standards in order to turn this vision into reality. It also means project guidance and, of course, this also includes quality control. I always prefer constructive consultation during project preparations, but when it is really necessary we also send projects back to the drawing table.
The plans have now been modified, making the project much better integrated into the surroundings and significantly improving road safety and comfort for cyclists. The project now meets our minimum quality standards,” said Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet.
State Secretary Smet would like to thank alderwomen Jellab and Persoons for their constructive adaptation of the plans.
Safe cycle paths and more trees
The central part of Square Marguerite Duras will be redesigned as an enjoyable pedestrian axis with green areas. Long benches invite to rest and meet. The green areas will provide space for various urban functions such as leisure, a play area and a space for dogs.
Compared to the originally submitted project, the transversal parking places along Quai au Bois de Construction and Quai aux Barques will disappear. ( Due to being unsafe and non-urban, this type of parking space will no longer be allowed anywhere in the Brussels Region according to the proposed new Regional Urban Development Regulations.) While cyclists had to go through the park together with pedestrians in the original project, the new one replaces this parking lane by a wide two-way cycle path of 3.5 metres and a strip of rainwater gardens or climate borders of about 2 metres.
More attention will also be paid to water permeability elsewhere in the project.
At Quai au Bois de Construction, Quai aux Barques, Quai à la Houille and Quai à la Chaux, new rows of trees will be planted along the facades between the existing parking places. The planting of the trees will take into account protected facades, existing delivery zones, car sharing, bicycle parking, etc.
“The new Square Marguerite Duras will greatly improve public space in the city centre. A logical next step is to extend these principles of quality public space and more plants and trees also to Rue du Marché aux Porcs and the Rue Léon Lepage and Rue de Flandre intersection. I know that alderman Ans Persoons is working on a redevelopment project for this area to make it blend better with the square and with the aim of planting as many trees as possible there,” concluded Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet.