By Alex Anna Dechilly
Hidden behind the high walls of what used to be a military training facility, is what will be known as Usquare. Now still called SeeU, the site located at Avenue de la Couronne is being repurposed for many different projects. A part of which will be used by both the VUB and ULB to create more space for research, classes, and community. We were lucky to get a guided tour from Cassio Lopes around the site and through the buildings to learn more about the future of Usquare.
We started out at the model of what the site will look like when it is finished, displayed in a case inside one of the buildings. Cassio explained how this used to be a military training facility and he is collecting pictures of what the site looked like back then. He even spoke of a man who was trained here as a soldier and had nothing but bad memories of the place, but is glad now to see it changed into something positive.
From there, we walked outside. Cassio explained how some buildings will be renovated and some will be torn down to open up the site to the people and invite them in. One building will be turned into an international student house where students from abroad can find any and all information they need to make their stay in Brussels and at the university as easy as possible. Walking a little further, he also showed us the buildings where student housing will be created. Around 400 students, split among ULB, VUB and international students, will find a kot on this site.
Just like the Fab Lab which is already in working motion at SeeU, an Open Lab will be created here as well. The Brussels Research Open Lab (BROL) is a place for people to do research, share knowledge, bridge the gap between the university and the city, etc. It serves to create community and improve collaboration between VUB and ULB.
Next to all the educational purposes of the SeeU site, it also houses a number of independent projects. During our tour around the buildings, we met a fashion designer who aims to make fashion as sustainable as possible by upcycling clothes. We stood at the gate of what will be a marketplace that aims to be organic and sustainable. We were told how Brussels plans on creating social housing for people with low income. We admired the hall of what will be a university auditorium by day and a cinema by night.
This and many more projects (over 100!) are to come to the future Usquare site. By 2024 some of them will already be up and running. So keep an eye out for those. Usquare is sure to become the place to be for all your community needs.
(Picture by Julie Bertone – Cassio Lopes showing us the model of what the site will look like)