The municipality of Saint-Gilles lies on a gentle slope in the south of Brussels. The Parvis had always been its main square where a well-known food market is organised four days per week. Cars had been banned for some years, and the aim of the international design competition was to transform this former large street into a public plaza.
The Parvis lies at the intersection of two interesting urban systems. On the one hand there is an axis of 19th century monuments; on the other hand, there is a system of smaller park. The design for the Parvis reinforces this double system. The church has been given a central space on the plaza, while new trees make a connection with the adjacent parks.
The beautifully curved façades of the plaza are revealed through five continuous bands in the pavement. These lines in blue stones unify the space while providing a flexible tool for the organisation of the diverse activities: they mark the limits of the outdoor terraces and they position the ambulant market.
The original blue stone pavers of the sidewalks have been re-used in the design of the plaza, greatly helping to save resources. Cut in two, they have been inserted into the new granite flooring. These thin blue lines add a playful touch, breaking the uniformity of the surrounding pavers. On rainy days all the blue stone elements of the plaza become dark and reflective: The five continuous bands and the re-used stones reveal a beautiful graphical pattern.
A number of large trees have been planted on the Parvis. All different, the species have been carefully chosen to bring the seasons to this urban plaza. A number of welcoming circular benches invite people to gather in their shade. The new Parvis is much appreciated by both inhabitants and visitors.