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‘Guillemins’ a neighbourhood in transition


In the Belgian city of Liège construction of the TGV station, to a competition-winning design by Santiago Calatrava, is now in full swing. A concomitant feature of the brief is to redevelop the adjoining quarter of Guillemins. In the next ten to fifteen years, many of the quarter's present inhabitants will have to leave as new offices, apartment complexes and shops are built. The project explores the issue of how the city of Liège will relate to Guillemins, an urban quarter in transition, in the intervening period.

SHADOWCITY proposes giving Guillemins an intermediary infill using temporary interventions with, for and by the local community. My project regards the existing buildings, people, activities and places not as a problem for Guillemins but as a potential. The interventions are to enhance the quality of life in and around the quarter in the transitional phase and contribute to the welfare of the city as a whole. This temporary use and in particularly the milieu it will give rise to, can help bring forth a better end-product with a stronger identity. Parts of the temporary uses may then perhaps be taken up more permanently in the final plan. 

Applying the strategy and its methods of analysis to Guillemins showed five potential groups of inhabitants and eight potential 'locations'. The five groups are, Guillemins (or rather, all that is characteristic of it), small businesses, young people, old people, and subcultures. The designed interventions are crying out to be filled in, standing as they are on the dividing line between architecture & art and folly & building.

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