Barracks – Usquare.brussels
The Urban Development Corporation (sau-msi.brussels) has been appointed by the Brussels Region as the developer which will coordinate the various operations to create Usquare.brussels, a new Brussels district that will be open, diverse and dynamic, urban and welcoming, university-centred and international, sustainable and innovative. The new district will be created on the 3.95-hectare site of the former gendarmerie school at the corner of Boulevard Général Jacques and Avenue de la Couronne in Ixelles.
Usquare.brussels must serve two separate interests: it must meet the needs of the city’s inhabitants in terms of housing, local facilities and welcoming and attractive public spaces; and it will accommodate a pioneering and ambitious project of international significance jointly managed by two universities, ULB and VUB. The project will focus on sustainable development and consist of different elements, including research, knowledge dissemination and sharing, international exchanges, entrepreneurship and innovation, and food.
Coordinator of the Usquare.brussels site
The SAU is the coordinator of the site where Usquare.brussels is being developed. This mission was entrusted to it by the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, which purchased the former barracks from the Federal State. The SAU is coordinating the various components of the Usquare.brussels project.
In addition, it will manage the following aspects itself, in consultation with the other public and university stakeholders: the search for investors for the university accommodation; the project management of the public spaces. While the site’s architectural heritage will be showcased, openings will be created in the perimeter wall in order to make it more accessible to surrounding neighbourhoods.
The SAU is also the contracting authority for the future conversion of the arena where horse-riders were trained into a sustainable food hall. This component of the repurposing of the barracks is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
- In April 2018, the SAU published details of a public procurement procedure to appoint a service provider for the coordination, revitalisation and transition management of the whole of this site.
- In May 2018, the SAU issued a call for expressions of interest (CEI) to identify project owners for the temporary occupation of part of the site.
- In June 2018, the SAU issued an invitation to submit tenders for refurbishment work (water and electricity supplies, etc.) with a view to the temporary occupation of the site.
- In September 2018, the SAU appointed the service provider for the coordination, revitalisation and transition management of the entire site: the Creatis / D-Side Groupe / Troisième Pôle consortium.
- In November 2018, the SAU selected first 41 temporary occupants as part of See U, the transitional phase of the Usquare.brussels project.
- In April 2019, See U was inaugurated.
- In December 2019 the SAU has appointed a multidisciplinary Franco-Belgian team led by the architecture and urban planning firm Anyoji Beltrando to design and oversee the creation of public spaces (20.000 m2) on the Usquare.brussels site.
- In october 2020 the Brussels-Capital Region has issued planning permission for the first two projects for the renovation and repurposing of iconic buildings on the site: the first permit has been issued to the SAU for the renovation and conversion of the old Riding School (where horse-riders at the gendarmerie school used to be trained) as a sustainable food court; the second permit has been issued to the universities ULB and VUB for the renovation and repurposing of the buildings facing onto Boulevard Général Jacques as university facilities and accommodation for researchers.
- In December 2020, See U, the Usquare.brussels temporary occupation programme, won a prize at the Visit.brussels Awards.
- In January 2021, the SAU started a participatory process for the design of the public spaces of Usquare.brussels.
- In February 2021, the SAU announced the extension of the See U temporary occupation programme.
- In December 2021, the first conversion work started on the iconic buildings of the former barracks.