Territorial issues

Brussels-Midi railway station, the high-speed train terminal and a major intermodal hub (train, metro, tram and bus) for the Brussels-Capital Region, is located at the heart of an area in the midst of an urban regeneration process. This area’s international, national, urban and local connectivity and the numerous private-sector projects being launched there have made it a key point of focus for the Brussels-Capital Region. Since the arrival of the first high-speed trains in the 90s, it has played a strategic role.

With the adoption of the Midi Master Plan on January 14th 2016, this area has entered a new phase of development in which a series of major challenges will be addressed.

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Mix of functions and reinforcement of the area’s residential character

The area around the station should not be a specialised area, but must bring together all urban functions: housing, activities and facilities. The mix of functions needs to be strengthened at all levels – from district level down to individual buildings. The reintroduction of housing and associated functions on a large scale will reintegrate the districts around the station into the urban fabric of the municipalities of Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles and the City of Brussels. It will also help address the strong demand for housing in the Brussels Region. 

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A lively, bustling area

Reinforcing the functional mix relates among other things to ensuring a good range of shops and cultural facilities, and generating more activity in street-level premises. The idea is to create a lively atmosphere in the district both by day and in the evening, during the week and at the weekends

The redevelopment of public spaces, the organisation of cultural events and the installation of artworks in urban spaces will also give a boost to the liveliness of the area.

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Connection with the local area

The Gare du Midi is one of the gateways to Brussels city centre. It is located just 15 minutes’ walk from the Grand-Place, but is also close to the municipal headquarters of both Anderlecht and Saint-Gilles. The major urban developments around the creative hub of WIELS in Forest and in the Canal Area are also very close. Interaction between these focal points and the search for synergies will allow the station to create strong links with neighbouring districts.

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Visibility and ease of use

Despite being a key facility and major public transport node, Brussels-Midi railway station is at present extremely inconspicuous within the cityscape. It needs to be made more visible in the city and opened up to the surrounding area. Improving the station’s accessibility and enhancing the image of this gateway to the region for the different groups of local, regional, national and international users represents a challenge.

The reorganisation of the routing and signage in the station, the intermodal hub and the local area will make it easier for users to find their way around. The intermodal hub also needs to be rearranged for the increased convenience of all travellers.

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Facilities

As a major transport facility, the station has the potential to offer a variety of attractive services for travellers, as well as for local residents and the people of Brussels in general. The introduction of local and regional facilities in and around the station will reinforce its central role and its links with the city.

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Pedestrians: priority users of the local area

Congestion around the station is too often a problem at present. Traffic calming measures are needed, and at the same time the public space needs to be reorganised, with priority being given to pedestrians.

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Public spaces

The layout of the public spaces surrounding the station needs to be redesigned to make them more user-friendly and suitable for a variety of purposes (the market, the Midi Fair, temporary uses, events, etc.) and to link the neighbouring districts together. The sound future management of these spaces must be a central concern.

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Overcoming the major barriers

The railways and the inner ringroad both represent substantial barriers to links and exchanges between the different districts. Measures will need to be taken to reduce the impact of these fault-lines and integrate the large-scale infrastructure into the city. 

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Consultation

Local actors have been brought together to contribute to an ambitious, high-quality project for the development of the area that meets the main challenges outlined above.

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Management

The maintenance, cleanliness and organisation of public spaces in the district need coordinated management to improve the level of service for users.