“Save | Change the City” an unbuilt, alternative Brussels at CIVA Stichting

The exhibition shows a Brussels that used to exist, but is no longer there. A Brussels that somehow was proved possible to save. And a Brussels that could have been: a perfect fit in the CIVA’s new Unbuilt Brussels series, which shows a city that was thought up but never built.

 

Petit Château Quarter, 1976. Architects Jean-Pierre HOA, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Caroline MIEROP & Anne VAN LOO // La Cambre  Students (Didier ANGE& Brigitte BUYSSENS )

Petit Château Quarter, 1976. Architects Jean-Pierre HOA, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Caroline MIEROP & Anne VAN LOO // La Cambre Students (Didier ANGE& Brigitte BUYSSENS )

 

Brusselisation” is the key word behind the new exhibition at CIVA Stichting, “Save | Change the City“. The exhibition is part of a double-programme focusing on half a century of town planning in Brussels, under two unique perspectives. “Save | Change the City”  presents an overview of local residents’ initiatives in opposition to ‘Brusselisation’ and explores the alternatives that the two main neighbours’ associations proposed at the time in order to achieve a liveable city – one with respect for its citizens, its architecture, and its heritage. 


 

Practical Information

Save | Change the City
23 June – 24 September 2017
Fondation CIVA Stichting
Rue de l’Ermitage 55 Brussels
Belgium

 


The Marollen/Marolles district and its inhabitants, who had to clear out to facilitate the extension of the courts building (Justitiepaleis/Palais de Justice), the demolition of the Centrale Hallen/Halles Centrales to make way for a new multi-story car park (the now obsolete Parking 58), the appalling idea of an urban motorway, the destruction of Horta’s Volkshuis/Maison du Peuple, and the Manhattan plan that set out to convert the residential district around the Brussels North train station into a US-style business district: in the 1950s and 1960s, Brusselisation was out of control.

Brussels looked like a city that was being demolished – and not in wartime either. Large parts of the city were handed over to the property developers. Entire neighbourhoods were devastated. Residents of working-class districts were evicted in droves. And those plans had the support of the authorities. The starting point was that the ‘indispensable modernisation’ of the city was the first priority.

 

BRUXELLISATION: la dernière maison de l’ensemble de maisons bourgeoises, rue Belliard, 248-262 en démolition. Coll. Fondation CIVA - Sint-Lukasarchief.

BRUXELLISATION: the last Bourgeoise house in rue Belliard, 248-262. Coll. Fondation CIVA – Sint-Lukasarchief

L’ABANDON DE MONUMENTS CLASSES: le château Charle-Albert, 1869, Watermael-Boitsfort, vue après l’incendie.

MONUMENT ABANDON: château Charle-Albert, 1869, Watermael-Boitsfort.

 

But resistance was organised. The first neighbourhood committees were set up; local people rebelled. May 1968 protesters in Brussels had a clear goal. Two associations played a key role in that context: the Sint-Lukasarchief and the Archives d’Architecture Moderne. They took a stand for the people of Brussels and for urban heritage and architecture. Now, in 2017, both are part of the CIVA Foundation.

 

1.Affiche de protestation contre le “projet Manhattan” dans le quartier Nord. 2.Affiche contre la construction de la tour ITT et pour la préservation du site de l’abbaye de La Cambre.

(1) Poster against “project Manhattan” (2) Poster against ITT tower and for the preservation of the La Cambre Abbey.

11.Etudiants de l’école alternative créée par Maurice Culot et consorts en 1979, rue Blanche

Students from the alternative school of Maurice Culot in 1979, rue Blanche

8.Fascicule de la 9e école urbain organisée par l’ARAU en mars 1978 13.Affiche du Comité général d’action de la Marolles (sic)

Poster for the ARAU urban workshop March 1978 // Poster of the ‘Comité général d’action de la Marolles’

10.Mobilisation des étudiants durant « l’affaire La Cambre », photographie d’époque

Students demonstration « l’affaire La Cambre »

15.Affiche du Comité de quartier de Cureghem, contre les autoroutes urbaines de pénétration BRUXELLES SE MODERNISE: les tunnels et le viaduc vers Koekelberg. Coll. CIVA Stichting - Sint-Lukasarchief.

Poster of  Cureghem Quarter Commitee, against the urban highway // Tunnels in Koekelberg. Coll. CIVA Stichting – Sint-Lukasarchief.

 

The unique Save | Change the City exhibition presents an overview of their activities in opposition to ‘Brusselisation’ and explores the alternatives that the two associations proposed at the time in order to achieve a liveable city – one with respect for its citizens, its architecture, and its heritage. Their key weapon was the creation of unique archives.

An inventory was drawn up of the heritage and research – into the importance of Victor Horta’s work and art nouveau, for example – was carried out, libraries were set up, exhibitions were organised: no effort was spared in the effort to counter the lack of vision on the part of property developers and the authorities in relation to town planning and the city’s heritage.

 

 

Rehabilitation of the Grenadiers Quarter, 1974-1978 (unknown author) Archives d’Architecture Moderne

Rehabilitation of the Grenadiers Quarter, 1974-1978 (unknown author) Archives d’Architecture Moderne

Reconstruction projects for Boulevard Jacqmain, 1976-1978. La Cambre Students (Sefik BIRKIYE, Gilbert BUSIEAU & Patrice NEIRINCK)

Reconstruction projects for Boulevard Jacqmain, 1976-1978. La Cambre Students (Sefik BIRKIYE, Gilbert BUSIEAU & Patrice NEIRINCK)

 

The exhibition offers, on the one hand, a sample of the treasures contained in both the Archives d’Architecture Moderne and the Sint-Lukasarchief: hundreds of original plans; alternative proposals for neighbourhoods, streets, and buildings; protest posters; models; manifestos, etc. At the same time, visual archives immerse you in the spirit of those times.

Television reports and documentaries from the 1960s and 1970s give a voice to the people of Brussels. Visitors young and old get to see the Brussels of the past and the impact that a changed ‘vision’ of the city has had on its inhabitants.

 

Project for Bastion Square, 1974-1975 La Cambre Students (Patrick BURNIAT, Renaud DUMONT DE CHASSART, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Michel LOUIS, Caroline MIEROP, Daniel STAELENS, Serge ZOUBOFF & Cie)

Project for Bastion Square, 1974-1975. La Cambre Students (Patrick BURNIAT, Renaud DUMONT DE CHASSART, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Michel LOUIS, Caroline MIEROP, Daniel STAELENS, Serge ZOUBOFF & Cie)

 

Save | Change the City shows a Brussels that used to exist…but is no longer there. A Brussels that, here and there, it proved possible to save. And a Brussels that could have been. Which means that the exhibition is a perfect fit in the CIVA’s new Unbuilt Brussels series, which shows a city that was thought up…but never built.

In the context of the exhibition, guided tours are being organised every Thursday evening. These tours are free, once you have bought a ticket for the exhibition. We have asked a number of well-known Brussels figures (including the Brussels Region’s Chief Architect Kristiaan Borret and the writer Geert Van Istendael) to take visitors through their Brussels. A Brussels that they have known, have seen change…or have dreamed. With the exhibition serving as a as a kind of guidebook.


 

News source: Fondation CIVA Stichting
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