TYPE/ strategic planning - Individual project - Studio - preservation of natural ressources, rural development, sustainable mobility - September 2012
Genappe is 14 000 inhabitants rural town located in the Belgian countryside, 30km away from Brussels. This administrative entity is formed by 8 villages along the Dyle river. It is mainly covered of fields and forests, but we can observe a massive abandonned sugar factory standing in the middle of a vast natural area. It is somehow a testimony of the village’s industrial past back in the 19th century.
The urban center is crossed by two main roads that goes from Brussels to Charleroi (north-south axis) and from Nivelles to Louvain-la-Neuve (west-east axis). It is important to note that Genappe is only 16km away from Louvain-la-Neuve, which is one of the biggest university campus and research center in Belgium.
A large majority of inhabitants are commuters, they use their car everyday to go to work in bigger cities.
The first challenge for this rural town is to keep its current inhabitants, and attract a younger population and new companies as well. To do so, it has to improve its living environment, boost the local job market, and offer alternative and more efficient transportation options.
The second challenge is to structure the territory because Genappe is also affected by urban sprawl. During the last decade villa were built outside existing urbanized areas and this phenomenon slowly became a threat for agricultural and forestry lands.
My proposal was to develop Genappe's territory around a structured east-west axis along the river. This axis would be materialized by a relatively fast public transport, a tramway for instance, that could replace cars for locals and visitors. Plus, new constructions would be allowed only in strategic zones along this axis in order to increase density around tram stations while protecting natural resources.
The natural perimeter around the abandoned sugar factory would become a protected natural reserve (Natura 2000).
Furthermore, the center of Genappe could become the epicenter of this project with diverse urban activities and a lively atmosphere. A strong program will be implemented there, with cultural animations, offices and a variety of public or private services.