Brussels Stories and Tips

Bruxellisation

Centre Monnaie, Bruxelles, Belgium Photo, Brussels, Belgium

Many travelers flock to Brussels to enjoy the beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau architecture that the city can offer. However, Brussels is also known for style blunders, big ones, ones so big it has its own term in architectural and urban lingo: bruxellisation.

And what is it? This "modernity frenzy" coupled with greedy real estate powerhouses led to the destruction of old buildings to make way for the buildings of the future; this started in the late '60s, when Belgium's economy was swinging.

Not even Horta's "Maison du Peuple," which was supposed to be one of his finest work, could stand the strength of that steamroller. The house was destroyed despite protests. The whole Quartier Leopold neighbourhood disappeared to make room for European institutions.

Results of the process of bruxellisation? A complete destruction of a traditional and homogeneous architecture, losing at the same time the city's memory and soul.

In fact, the phenomenon was so bad that students in architecture and urbanism from all over the world are shown Brussels as an example of what not to do. Hopefully this period is over (well... once the "Espace Nord" area, nicknamed "Manhattan," will be done). People and officials have come to realize the damage it's doing.

Well, maybe unless the European Union needs some more buildings?

Here's for the viewing a fine example of bruxellisation: The Centre Monnaie. Built in 1971, this gaudy star-shaped monstrosity is dwarfing the 19th-century Haussmanian-styled Place de Brouckère and Boulevard Anspach, cutting right through the link between the square and the boulevard, destroying the architectural unity.

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