First established in the Flemish Region and in Antwerpen at the end of the ‘90’s, the function of “bouwmeester” has been introduce in Wallonia which created, in 2007, the Architecture Cell of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. In 2009, the Brussels Government chose the first bouwmeester for a five-year term. Charleroi followed the movement and nominated its bouwmeester, keeping the Flemish name. In the following years, the city of Gent will choose its bouwmeester too.
The bouwmeester’s main role is to help clients to ensure the quality of regional public projects in terms of architecture, urban planning and public space. That role was now extended to projects carried out by the municipalities and the private sector, given that these have a major impact on the urban development of Brussels. Thus, the bouwmeester and his team are responsible for assisting, advising and encouraging public and private clients, using a variety of tools that have been developed since the creation of the function.
A DISCUSSION ON QUALITY
The bouwmeester takes the view that architectural quality is not defined purely in terms of aesthetics but also and above all in terms of spatial quality. Spatial quality is the product of multiple factors: integration into the urban fabric, functionality and user-friendliness of the building or site, social interaction generated by the project, sustainability, economic use of resources and so on. It is also dependent on an efficient preliminary process and the support of the population and users.
Thus, spatial quality promotes community life and leads us to re-examine our social values. This is why a properly conducted discussion leading to a common definition of the spatial quality of a project is so important. The bouwmeester’s role here is therefore to ensure that this discussion takes place under the right conditions. The discussion must be transparent, well-argued and lasting, so that the definition of spatial quality becomes a value shared by all parties.
CROSS-DISCIPLINARITY AND INDEPENDENCE
Brussels is spatially, socially and administratively complex. It is therefore essential for the bouwmeester to build bridges between the various actors involved in urban development, at the level of public actors (administrations, institutional authorities) and private actors (owners, real estate developers), but also at the level of the city’s inhabitants and users, civil society organisations and engaged citizens working to improve the city. Building bridges, but also encouraging coherent urban development – such is the bouwmeester’s approach.
The bouwmeester’s neutrality is essential to perform this role successfully. He does not support any particular sector, but brings together people, services and disciplines and aims to take a comprehensive approach. While reporting to the government, the bouwmeester must be able to express independent views about the projects he handles.
Although Brussels shows ambition when it comes to urban regeneration, this does not always translate directly into achievements on the ground. The work of the first bouwmeester, Olivier Bastin, created a favourable climate in architecture and urban planning, in particular through the introduction of a high-quality competition culture.
BROADENING AND DEEPENING
The foundations of the bouwmeester’s mission were laid by the first holder of the post. The requirement now is to go even further by broadening and deepening the bouwmeester’s sphere of action by means of more competitive tenders, procedures, building owners and missions, but that is not all.
More intensive support has been introduced both prior to and following project conception: in the former case through the use of the research by design method, which contributes to a better spatial understanding of the Region, and in the latter case with the principle of the quality chamber, which involves the bouwmeester in the monitoring of projects in order to guarantee their smooth progress through to completion.
Kristiaan Borret has been bouwmeester of the Brussels-Capital Region since 2015. A civil engineer and architect by training (KU Leuven), he also holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the same university and one in political science and public affairs (UCL), as well as a master’s degree in urban planning from Barcelona.
From 2006 to 2014, he was bouwmeester of the City of Antwerp. He has also been a visiting professor of urban projects at the University of Ghent since 2005.
Kristiaan Borret’s career has been marked by a close relationship between theory and practice, between the public and private sectors, between policy and design, and between architecture and urban planning. In particular, he has carried out theoretical and conceptual research into contemporary transformations of the city, urbanity and public space, including within the interdisciplinary research of GUST (Ghent Urban Studies Team). He has also contributed to various urban development, public space and infrastructure projects in Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
He was member of the International Scientific Committee of Europan and of the Cercle de Qualité for the project of Ile de Nantes (France). He is Supervisor of Oostenburg for het City of Amsterdam (Netherlands).
In 2013, he was awarded the Flemish Community’s Biennial Prize for Architecture.
Julie studied architecture at La Cambre and then followed the real estate programme at the Solvay Brussels School. After six years of good and loyal service at the architecture and urban planning agency MS-A, she joined the research by design team in 2016.
Sophie studied Romance philology before entering the world of work at UCL’s cultural service, where she was employed as an assistant and project coordinator. She is since 2016 the communication officer on the bouwmeester’s team.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 80
After studying landscape architecture at the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel and obtaining a master’s degree in urban planning, Maarten gained his spurs at BRAL/Mouvement Urbain pour Bruxelles and then at the City of Antwerp working as a project manager. After working at Brussels Environment, he joined in the course of 2016 the team of project managers.
Tel.: +32 (0)2 435 43 73
E-mail : email@example.com
Ann De Cannière
Ann obtained her degree in ingeneering and her master’s degree in urban planning in Sint-Lukashogeschool. After several years at BRAL/Mouvement urbain pour Bruxelles, she worked as project manager in Antwerp and Gent and then for mediapark.brussels at the ADT. After that, she assumed the role of Assistant Director of Perspective before joining the BMA team to follow up projects.
Tel.: +32 (0)2 435 43 92
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben studied architecture at Saint-Lucas in Ghent and urbanism at the KULeuven. After that, he started a carrier abroad: first in Paris, at the office uapS, and then in London, for Studio Egret West. He’s now member of the Research by Design team and will also follow up projects.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 74
E-mail : email@example.com
Géraldine studied architecture at La Cambre before embarking on a supplementary master’s degree in urban planning at KU Leuven and the real estate programme at the Solvay Brussels School. After working for several architectural and urban planning firms including Plusoffice and Marcel Smets and assisting the bouwmeester of Charleroi, she joined the research by design team.
Fabienne holds a bachelor’s degree in agronomics and began her career in the private sector before joining the Urban Renewal Directorate, where she worked for ten years. She now coordinates the Brussels bouwmeester’s team and has been following up a number of projects for the past two years.
Audrey is the longest-standing member of the bouwmeester’s team. Having gained a master’s degree in architecture from La Cambre, Audrey joined the unit in 2013 under Olivier Bastin. She worked at first on the cartography and the tools development and now follows up projects in the BMA.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 77
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Guénaëlle, who has a degree in architecture from Saint-Luc, spent ten years working for a number of architectural firms, including Luc Schuiten. She then joined the Brussels Housing Agency Foyer Bruxellois (now Logement Bruxellois) in its role as a contracting authority. After ten years of good and loyal service, Guénaëlle has swelled the ranks of the bouwmeester’s team, where she follows up several projects.
Tel.: +32 (0)2 435 43 83
Jean-Guy holds a master’s degree in civil engineering, which he obtained at UCL. After five years at various architectural firms, including AgwA and Manger Nielsen Architects, he joined the bouwmeester’s team, where he follows up several projects.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 81
Lydie studied at the Higher Institute of Architecture Lambert Lombard in Liège before working at Besix for six years. She then put her talents at the service of the City of Brussels as a project manager for neighbourhood contracts. She has joined the bouwmeester’s team, where she follows u several projects.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 82
A historian by training, Frederik also holds a master’s degree in urban planning and European urban cultures. After two years with the NGO City Mine[d] in charge of the PRECARE project, and in particular of the temporary use of unoccupied buildings in Brussels, Frederik worked at the Flemish cities research centre before joining the bouwmeester’s team.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 84
Tania studied architecture and urban planning at KU Leuven, where she then worked for the Urban Development and Architecture Research Group. After a period as an urban developer in the private sector and as part of the Research by Design team of the City of Antwerp, she was project coordinator at the Project Management and Development Agency of the City of Leuven. Tania has now joined another Research by Design team, under the bouwmeester of Brussels.
Tél. : +32 (0)2 435 43 72
Tine studied architecture at Hasselt University before spending two years at the firm Stekke + Fraas. She then worked at Brussels Environment before joining the bouwmeester’s’s team, where she follows up several projects.
Tel. : +32 (0)2 435 43 78
Olivier Bastin was appointed as the first bouwmeester of the Brussels-Capital Region. A graduate in architecture from Saint-Luc in Tournai, he also trained as a set designer at the Atelier Sainte-Anne. In 1989, he founded L’Escaut Architectures with Micheline Hardy, an architectural workshop and cultural space run as a cooperative since 2009.
Known as an eloquent advocate of teamwork and consultation, Olivier Bastin laid the foundations of the bouwmeester’s role by focusing on the procedures of competitions. Two reference works were created as a result: the M.A.S. and the Vade Mecum.