A Study of a Street
A summary of the eastern street frontage of Rue de Laeken, which runs between Rue du Pont Neuf to the north and Rue du Cirque to the south follows. The Foundation for Architecture in Brussels organised a Europe wide competition in 1989 for the reconstruction of this part of Rue de Laeken which had been demolished in the 1960s. Over 200 entries were received. The overriding criteria used by the international jury were that the projects should recreate a street suitable for the heart of Brussels and for the people who would live there. The winning team, then all aged under 40, came from Belgium, England, France, Italy and Spain.
The competition was a quest to combine architecture and urbanism: how to reconstruct a section of a street that would respect the scale and structure of the traditional city and the aesthetics of a historic street dominated by neoclassical language while meeting the economic, functional and technical requirements of contemporary shops, workshops, offices and houses. The buildings work symbiotically together; concessions to modern requirements such as lifts and underground car parking are hidden from view. Prince Charles approves: “The completion of this project to reconstruct the Rue de Laeken is a sign of hope that we may at last be entering a new and more humane age of European urbanism.” So from left to right, north to south, in a particular order, there are lots to see:
- Lot 1 by Gabriele Tagliaventi + Associates. A three bay by three bay corner pedimented tower rising five storeys with arch headed ground floor windows. Attached is a two bay four storey with dormer building; blind windows on either side of the doorway.
- Lot 2 by Atelier 55 + Marc Heene + Michel Leloup. Four bay three storey building with dormers; a shopfront takes up half the ground floor façade. Attached is a narrow four storey with dormer building; first floor rectangular oriel almost spans its full width.
- Lot 3 by Sylvie Assassin + Barthélemy Dumons + Philippe Gisclard + Nathalie Prat. Symmetrical seven bay street centrepiece; four storey with attic; shopfronts either side of gated archway.
- Lot 4 by Jean-Philippe Garric + Valérie Négro. Seven bay four storey with blind central bay on upper floors; shopfronts either side of arched doorway; first floor treated as mezzanine.
- Lot 5 by Javier Cenicacelaya + Inigo Salona. Four bay three storey with dormers; arch headed ground floor doorways and windows.
- Lot 6 by Liam O’Connor + John Robins. Three bay three storey pedimented townhouse. Attached is a four bay four storey heavy corniced symmetrical building; doorcase on either side of shopfront.
- Lot 7 by Joseph Altuna + Marie-Laure Petit. Six bay four storey corner building accentuated by arch headed first and third floor windows; first floor metal balconies; chamfered corner.