A funnel-shaped canopy, a partly pedestrianised space and an urban agora open to the city … This is how the redevelopment project for the Schuman roundabout, outlined by the Danish architects COBE and the Brussels architects BRUT, is defined.
Because of its symbolism and the number of institutions that surround it, the Schuman district is one of the main “hot spots” in Brussels. And maybe even one of the most filmed places in the Old Continent. Every day, thousands of officials and international representatives use its alleys. With, as an exceptional showcase, a sinister roundabout surrounded by administrative buildings.
Far from being grandiose, the heart of Europe needed a fundamental makeover. And a soul … That is finally materialising on paper. After an international architectural competition launched at the end of December 2015 by the Brussels government, the future of Schuman is emerging in a partly pedestrianized form.
More than 20 consulting firms submitted a project. But it is the outline proposed by the international bureau COBE, associated with the Brussels architecture bureau BRUT, which received the jury’s praise. The idea? Metamorphose the roundabout into an urban agora, open to the city. With, in its centre, a basin overhung by an awning intended to shelter the passers-by. Around this central agora, a vast pedestrian area is created connecting the Cinquantenaire Park to the bridge of Rue de la Loi, close to the European institutions.
Exit the car, make way for pedestrians
“Schuman Square is the epitome of what Brussels should no longer be. Today a roundabout, Schuman will be returned to Brussels and to the European citizens to become an urban agora, a meeting place in a peaceful area,” said Minister of Mobility Pascal Smet (SP.A), which sees it as a new emblem of the transition from a “city for cars to a city for people”. Designed almost exclusively for motorised transport, the roundabout will be free of traffic to the benefit of a pedestrian and a zone devoted to soft modes of transport, such as hoverboards and bicycles. A suitable traffic plan is planned for this purpose.
The Region also promises to green this stretch to create a real link between the Cinquantenaire Park and the future “agora”. The budget allocated to this project is 7.78 million euros (excluding VAT). The first construction works – carried out by Beliris – are expected to start during the course of 2019.