Studies for this former rail and customs clearance site in central Brussels were drawn up over a six-month period. The company that manages the site initially spoke of facilities for around
10 000 people: 7 000 travelling to the site to work and 3 000 living there. The architects therefore investigated all the area infrastructure that would bear the impact of such a development, with the resultant risk of overload: roads, mobility, education, administration, security, health, shops and so forth. Before considering and construction the local authorities needed answers to these questions complete with proposed scenarios and coherent thinking. Seven models were drawn up, defining the functions and scale of the buildings. The belief that the site could only exist by creating its own urban identity led to the idea of envisaging a wider visibility with a signalling and coherence that would extend beyond the canal that borders it. Urban landmarks were introduced. The regional authorities wanted a 10-hectare park. The architects showed that a better use of the available space could be obtained by laying out green areas alongside the two main routes that cross the site, that would converge on a narrower park on the sides of the valley through which a railway line used to run. The space made available would make it possible to support the concept of green urbanism throughout the site. Housing would be laid out in wide avenues with new buildings erected around the existing ones. In the end, the issue of the park proved to be a subject of much dispute and discord. In such situations, the only solution to get things moving again is sometimes to make a diplomatic exit.