daily menu » rate the banner | guess the city | one on oneforums map | privacy policy | DMCA | news magazine | posting guidelines

Go Back   SkyscraperCity > World Forums > Architecture > European Classic Architecture and Landscapes

European Classic Architecture and Landscapes All related to historical buildings and landscapes of the old world.

Global Announcement

As a general reminder, please respect others and respect copyrights. Go here to familiarize yourself with our posting policy.


Thread Tools
Old September 18th, 2008, 10:38 AM   #1
Hong Kong
hkskyline's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 86,464
Likes (Received): 17790

Fixing Brussels' Grand Place

Brussels gets a grip at last on downtown tackiness
17 September 2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels penned their Communist Manifesto -- "a specter is haunting Europe, the specter of communism" -- in a cabaret overlooking Brussels' spectacular Grand-Place.

Communism has come and gone and the cabaret is a now restaurant, still called The Swan. If Marx and Engels would see any specter there today, it would surely be the urban tackiness that over the years has encircled Brussels' central square.

The exquisitely preserved Grand-Place itself is a world heritage site that dazzles visitors year-round. But in the maze of narrow streets and alleys around it, the beauty of a Magritte sky framing centuries-old Flemish gables surrenders quickly to an ugliness stemming from years of planning neglect.

Walk into the Marche aux Fromages and you will find yourself in a garish "Kebab Alley" where cheeck-by-jowl Greek restaurants serve pita sandwiches under harsh neon lights. Where the Mozart Hotel, inscrutably, blends Old Vienna with an over-the-top North African decor. Where plastic palms mark the Pizzeria Veneziana.

On the Rue de la Colline, chocolate shops vend brands unknown to most Belgians.

The Rue des Eperonniers boasts a grafitti-marred night shop, a tattoo parlor and the "Belgian Frit'N Toast" restaurant -- a grease emporium whose yellow facade is not cheered up any by a huge, smiling bag of French fries.

"What we are seeing today is a visible decline in the quality of the historic area around the Grand-Place itself," says Christian Ceux, the Brussels city councilor for urban planning.

In a recent interview he said that the city plans to soon impose stricter design regulations on commercial activities in an area of about 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers) around the Grand-Place. A 14-page bylaw to that effect will be enacted by the end of 2008.

Advertising signs and outdoor menus will be limited in numbers and sizes. Only red and green awnings and parasols -- the Brussels colors -- will be allowed.

Neon signs will be banned. So will polyester window frames, mirrored glass, fancy light curtains, outside air conditioning units, fantasy flags, banners, garlands and flashing lights and texts.

The plans include steps to encourage people to live again in the city's historic heart. "Bricked-up stairwells must be reopened so that upper floors can become apartments again," says Ceux.

The aim is to restore dignity to centuries-old buildings that today are festooned with garish boardings, filthy awnings and brick facades ripped open to make room for ever more tables and chairs.

"The new rules will take effect gradually when existing permits expire or stores and restaurants apply for rebuilding or publicity permits," said Ceux.

"Most importantly, from now on these rules will be legally enforced."

To date, the city has had voluntary rules. That worked well on the Grand-Place itself but not the streets around it.

Nowhere is the decline of historic Brussels more spectacular than in the Petite Rue des Bouchers.

The narrow street links the Grand-Place to the Ilot Sacre, a warren of half a dozen streets brimming with restaurants, many of which serve nothing more challenging than paella, pizza, lasagne or spaghetti.

So dubious is the reputation of the Petite Rue des Bouchers -- where labor law inspectors are regulars, outdoor shills hassle passers-by or lure them inside with chocolates -- that the city refuses to advertise it in its tourist brochures.

Visitors who do their homework before going into the area will find only a handful of restaurants rise above the generally dismal quality of eateries. They include Vincent, L'Ogenblick, Aux Armes de Bruxelles and Scheltema.

"What I want to see happening," says Ceux, the city councillor for urban planning, "is that in 5 to 10 years visitors will find the streets in the heart of Brussels as clean and pleasing to the eye as the Grand-Place is today."
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
hkskyline no está en línea   Reply With Quote

Sponsored Links
Old September 18th, 2008, 10:15 PM   #2
Tubeman's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: London SE15
Posts: 18,968
Likes (Received): 3245

I agree that streets like kebab alley are an eyesore, but they should be cautious not to strangle the life out of the area and turn it into a museum.
Tubeman no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old September 18th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #3
Urban Fetishist
SebasvandenBrink's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Groningen
Posts: 321
Likes (Received): 12

I love the tackyness of everything around the central square. The old and the new mixed and mingled, it brings things down to earth. It's still a city and it's still has to be able to live in it (and make a living in it). Though one thing I do hate is whole streets with only souvenirshops. Those are true eyesores. And they sell trash (how often haven't you seen someone with a black Barcelona, London or Amsterdam bag?).
Er gaat niets boven 050.
Sebas van den Brink - YouTube
SebasvandenBrink no está en línea   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Related topics on SkyscraperCity

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 01:08 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

SkyscraperCity ☆ In Urbanity We trust ☆ about us | privacy policy | DMCA policy

Hosted by Blacksun, dedicated to this site too!
Forum server management by DaiTengu