A creative and vibrant new Brussels district for an innovative media ecosystem

‘All the ingredients are definitely present to create a district here that will take its place within the identity of Brussels and among its icons.’ It is in these ambitious and proactive terms that the French architect and urban planner François Leclercq described, as he took up his assignment in 2014, the destiny of the new creative district which will occupy the RTBF and VRT site on Boulevard Reyers in Brussels. Drawing on years of experience of large-scale projects in Lille, Marseille, Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux, he is steering the international team that has been appointed to develop the ‘urban project’ that will reconfigure the site occupied since 1967 by the two public broadcasting operators.

This massive urban operation will create a new centre for the development of the Brussels region, in order to restore the quality of life at the heart of these areas, whose development has been seriously affected by the dense road infrastructure and by various economic activities that have developed on huge inward-looking sites. The new developments will incorporate housing, shops, services and leisure provision, but also will strengthen the economic fabric, among other means through the emergence of an innovative ecosystem centred on the media and the creative industries

The ambition of this project, dubbed ‘’, is to develop around the future new headquarters of RTBF and VRT an urban park of 9,5 hectares that will form the heart of a new Brussels district of exceptional quality – creative, diverse and vibrant. This open district, which will be a great place to live, work and relax, will be forward-looking and innovative in character by virtue both of its urban and architectural design and of its business activity, characterised by the proximity of numerous companies in the media and creative sectors employing some 5,000 workers.

The unifying and inspiring project will add value for Brussels and its people. In addition to the two new headquarters for RTBF and VRT, it features:

  • the construction, ultimately, of some 1,600 new dwellings;
  • local facilities and services (a nursery, a school, shops etc.) to meet the needs of local people;
  • sites for innovative new businesses that will create jobs,        colleges and public facilities linked with the media sector;
  • an urban park used as a venue for events but also for walking and recreation;
  • measures to reduce the impact of road traffic.

Situated at the confluence point between two stories (that of the Reyers/Meiser district and that of Belgian public broadcasting) and in a strategic location (between the European Quarter, Brussels Airport and Brussels’ university campuses), accessible and connected but prioritising pedestrians and public transport, will become an attractive new centre whose influence will extend beyond the confines of Brussels.

It will also reconnect the neighbouring districts, because it will be organised around a huge urban park that will replace the enclosed RTBF and VRT site, and through-roads linked up to the surrounding network.

As François Leclercq explains, all activities in the district ‘will be united by a public space of 9,5 hectares, returned to the city after a long period of seclusion – a landscaped space whose functional programming and public facilities will give it a metropolitan character. It will take advantage of the site’s existing natural features, further enhance the existing topography and set up multiple affiliations, assuming a metropolitan character on Boulevard Reyers, creating a local centre on Avenue Georgin, and crossing the entire area from north to south. The idea is that will be simultaneously a place used for many different purposes, an inhabited park with high-quality housing and an integrated space serving its local area effectively in various ways.’

The development project will build on the exceptional strengths of the RTBF-VRT site to set out an urban transformation that is visionary, economical and sensitive to the local environment:

  • the unique topography and historic vegetation of the former Tir National (National Shooting Range) will be the framework for the new district, allowing an exemplary system of water management to be designed;
  • the project’s scale and diversity will make it possible to identify economies of scale and to pool certain facilities such as parking;
  • the existence of excellent broadband networks is a major asset for the introduction of media activities and the emergence of the ‘smart city’.

All of these points are invaluable opportunities for the new Brussels media district.