The debates on the revitalisation of Brussels city centre (extension of the pedestrian zone, improvements to the ‘Petite Ceinture’ inner ring-road, etc.) revolve mainly around mobility policy and environmental and socio-economic issues. Despite these projects being situated in often-remarkable historic neighbourhoods, the patrimonial aspect has been little discussed. Yet a better integration of the historic urban landscape into contemporary projects would bring two benefits. Firstly, it would mean focusing on inherited spaces whose qualities (architectural, urbanistic, functional) are in many respects an asset for today’s urban development. Secondly, it would imply a redevelopment of the public space that would restore meaning, visibility and legibility to the Brussels patrimony.

Christophe Loir is a historian and professor at the ULB where he is Head of the History Department.