RUE DE LA LOI, BELGIUM, BRUSSELS, 2009
Competition to define an urban form for the Rue de la Loi and its surroundings
Two sets of contradictory demands define this competition:

1. To improve the urban qualities of the already congested Rue de la Loi by doubling its density
2. To create a new European quarter on a site which is already occupied by a traditional example of the European city

The first issue is morphological, the second symbolic. To address the morphology, we introduce in Brussels the ancient European typology of the 'portico', the classical emblem of the 'public'. It forms a screen of shifted footprints that introduces in the claustrophobic street wall of the Rue de la Loi a lateral depth of openings that defines a linear political space, if not an agora. The portico is 'capped' with federating elements parallel to the Rue de la Loi that defines a 'European' axis.
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At right angles to this political axis, housing and the "private" will be aligned perpendicular to the street, so that its bulk does not reinforce the pressure on the Rue de la Loi. As a skyline, the contrast between the 'European' and the 'private' orientation, represents a prototype of retroactive planning that is not based on the brute power of the Tabula Rasa, but that accepts the givens of context to avoid the sterility of a new beginning that typically defines articulations of political space from Washington's mall to the Forbidden City.

To address the symbolism, we identify two European 'sites', or interruptions, in the Rue de la Loi. Together with the existing, European entities, they form a sequence of European fragments embedded in the existing Brussels substance. Together, this chain of fragments offers an exemplary demonstration of the combination of the modernity and history that is the essence of the European project.

FACT SHEET
Status:
Competition

Client:
Capital-Region of Brussels

Location:

Brussels, Belgium

Program:

European and international competition to define an urban form for the Rue de la Loi and its surroundings



COLLABORATORS
In collaboration with:
NFA – Nicolas Firket Architects

team:
Nicolas Firket, Bernard Dubois, Marie-Noëlle Meessen

Real Estate adviser:
CBRE

Engineering:
ARUP structure

Infrastructure:
ARUP traffic

Strategic design consultant:
DEGW

Sustainability:
WSGreenTechnologies GmbH
ARUP sustainability

Landscape designer:
TER

Financial adviser:

SETEC – Partenaire Développement


CREDITS
Partners-in-Charge:
Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf

Associate:
Clément Blanchet

Team:
Catherine Barsoum, Andrea Bertassi, Willem Boning, Ania Brault, Sandra Bsat, Jessica Chidester, Rob Daurio, Antoine Decourt, Shabnam Hosseini, Namjoo Kim, So Jung Lee, Ivan Mata, Sanny Ng, Se Yoon Park, Ippolito Pestellini, Daniel Postiguo, Mian Ye, Yun Zhang, Marcos Zotes Lopez, Pascual Bernard de Castro, Abigail Karcher, Matthew Jull