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CANAL 2020, MASTERPLAN
Brussels 2000
Belgium

PROGRAM : Project of diploma, Canal Lock and Marina
LOCATION : Brussels’s Canal, Porte de Ninove and Place Sainteclette
SURFACE AREA : 1,5 Km
PROMOTER OF DIPLOMA : Professor Joël Claisse at ISAIVH
LECTORS OF DIPLOMA : Odile Decq and Xaveer De Geyter
AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHIES : Airprint, Daniel Philippe
Between spontaneous and planned construction.

Brucelloscha, arisen from sources and marshes, has lost its “raison d’être”. Smothering of the river, lethargy of the canal banks, death of the docks, sacking of the big fountains are the premises of its dehydration. As in Jean-Baptiste Baronian’s anthology “According to Brussels” what is more disconcerting than this rectilinear, silent and peaceful mirage that seems so few liquid that we’d think we are dreaming ? “It’s as a big dead river”.

But this delightful carcass drains marginal and central outskirts composed of urban empty spaces and post-industrial declining areas with several disadvantages but with much more subtle realities. The current processes demonstrate the bridles of a real and current functionality in these districts which are intimately part of the city and of the structure of Brussels. These insertions or commonplaces do not satisfy our everyday life codes because the apparently anarchic several uses of space and functions by a pluricultural community prevent us from getting our bearings. Smooth landscape with stria, the canal – contrary to the canal area – seems flowing under the city expressing its mental exteriority in the town’s physical inwardness.

Smooth and hybrid landscape, hyper-elongated wasteland, the canal produces different landscapes and constructions unable to impose a clear, univocal and shared identity. Geographically centered but mentally behind the city, this is a space on which it is impossible to plan any aesthetic balance.

Semantically empty, the canal simply questions the common imagination quashing up on its borders where friction of time slips on the mineral space. This is the landscape the most favourable to the city which transforms the urban space according to its own logic into a spontaneous construction where it is particular to live in that it located next to the planned constructions. That’s because they are physically hypocodified that these wastelands reflect - better than any urban landscape – the multiplicity of identities that each of us has or chooses during a day.

How can one join in the developing history of canal zones rather than confronting it ? Whereas current interventions decide to be discreet and functional, trying not to rush an hypothetic environment, key places of urban stakes are avoided. Canal 2020 is a master plan proposing a strong alternative, which maintains the future importance of this aquatic main axis that structures Brussels’ landscape.

COPYRIGHT : VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES