Belgium Berlaymont complex

Belgium Archaeology and Architecture

Archaeology. – Archaeological research in Belgium has shown, in recent years, a shift of interest from the military-defensive aspects of the civilian, indigenous or immigrant populations. Recent excavations in Amiens (Samarobriva), Boulogne (Gesoriacum), Bavary (Bagacum) have given remarkable results, clarifying the formative characteristics and development of Gallo-Roman cities and outlining the dominant factors of urbanization: subordination of urban development to the road network, adoption of the Roman model for the urban layout, age of new installations. Urbanization appears to be linked to a very limited ruling class, which dominated municipal life and was poorly integrated with the rest of the population. The latter seems to have remained linked, in the majority of cases, to traditional forms of coexistence.vast, populated and exploited civitates more than in the other Gallic provinces.

Another problem object of recent studies, is that of the crisis of the 3rd century AD and of the whole period that goes up to the middle of the 5th century, when the Belgium becomes the destination of various migrations and colonizations by Germanic elements, without however that the native Gallo-Roman element disappears completely. The recent excavations and discoveries allow us to outline, for the period of the Lower Empire, a different situation than imaginable, with a resumption of importance of the civil occupation and of the rural settlement, not completely erased by the invasions of 275 AD.

Still confused is the problematic of these Germanic immigrations of laeti, gentiles and other foederati ; particularly significant are the excavations made in the Nismes region, where a whole series of fortifications has been brought to light which clearly attest to a revival of life around the end of the 3rd century. In the same region, two sanctuaries found in Mategne-la-Petite and Mategne-la-Grande and erected in the early imperial age were rebuilt and experienced intense activity at the end of the 3rd and 4th centuries.

The research extended to rural sites: in Neerharen (near Maastricht) there was a beautiful Roman villa, destroyed or abandoned in the second half of the 3rd century, in the period of the High Empire. The site was reoccupied starting from 360 AD in a completely different economic and social context; a series of huts were erected there, the arrangement of which seems to reveal a form of village planning and a concept of aggregation far from that of the Roman age and more similar to the Merovingian or medieval system. About 40km further west, the Donk settlement shows traces of continuous occupation from the Iron Age to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, when a Roman settlement was built there. A long period of neglect followed and then new installations from the beginning of 4 0century, while the still partially existing buildings were adapted or dismantled. The excavations of the two sites allow us to glimpse the presence of immigration or colonization by Germanic elements coming from eastern Belgium.

Architecture. – The architecture and town planning of recent years are characterized by a more accentuated diversification of construction experiences compared to the uniqueness of the interventions carried out in the previous decades. However, uncontrolled urban renewal operations are still underway (such as the construction of gigantic buildings next to historic buildings) and casual urban planning strategies towards consolidated contexts, with demolitions and reconstructions from scratch. In particular, a process of tertiarisation of the town continues in Brussels, which has upset its physiognomy by allocating six million m 2 of surface area to office architecture with an annual demand for an additional 150,000 m 2. In the capital of Europe, entire districts have thus taken on mono-functional peculiarities, while in the city center the management and commercial activities as well as public services are concentrated.

On the other hand, with the exodus of the residents from the metropolitan region, it was necessary to exuberant infrastructures of the territory to allow the evening depopulation of the central areas. The already vast whole of the European Community continues to grow with results that are not always of quality. A competition, launched in 1984 and won by the Czyz, De Laveleye and Grochowssky group, envisages the inclusion of another huge device for meetings and assemblies in 1992 near the Berlaymont complex. For Belgium 2016, please check

This expansion policy, however, is held back by associations such as ARAU (Atelier de Recherche et d’Action Urbaines), which, with large popular participation, opposes both the abandonment of ancient nuclei and the planning of new peripheral residential agglomerations in favor of a capillary action of recovery and protection of degraded city areas.

One of the most representative exponents of the latter period, L. Kroll (b. 1927), based the activity of his atelier on the concept of participatory creation, that is, involving users and workers in the design methodology first and then in the realization. The architect himself defines his type of work as “permeable” and part of “a continuous environment”. An example of this ‘anarchitectonic’ poetics is the creation of the new Catholic University of Leuven, where Kroll has designed an integrated set of educational and residential buildings, open spaces and volumes, with the support of an exceptional collaboration of future users. He later built the Woluvé-St-Lambert metro station, which connects the suburban field with the heart of Brussels.

The center of Alma, as it is called, while not fully responding to the intentions of its author, is denoted by a fairly wide range of differentiated functions and by a complex language not free from deliberate contamination. Organic morphologies are intertwined, therefore, with plastic etymes of Gaudian derivation and with the apparent brutalism of the rough concrete pillars, which support the undulating platform. Kroll also formulated a landscape with trees and houses extended above the structures.

In Liège, on the other hand, Ch. Vandenhove, Kroll’s former partner, takes inspiration from local traditions to re-propose them rationalized and adapted to changed circumstances. The typology of the management body finds in Antwerp an updated version in the hotel-offices of the Italian G. Mileto, which inserts sliding and reflecting stereometries in the arboreal environment in front of a protected park. An important urbanistic evidence is constituted by the aforementioned university of Louvain-la-Neuve, a French-speaking duplication of the ancient settlement of Louvain, whose plan was drawn up by Lemaire and Laconte.

On an area of ​​150 ha, 18,000 residents, students and professors are currently housed, and a population limit of 50,000 is envisaged. The element of greatest interest lies in the search for small dimensions and in a compact but freely articulated plot along the pedestrian routes, interrelated by the low and in some cases repetitive shapes of the buildings, to achieve an urban image.

Belgium Berlaymont complex