The municipality of Saint-Gilles lies on a gentle slope in the south of Brussels. The Parvis has always been its main square, where a well-known food market is organized four days a week. Cars were banned some years ago, 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 nineteenth-century monuments; on the other there is a network of smaller parks. The design for the Parvis reinforces this dual system. The church has been given a central space on the plaza, while new trees establish a connection with the adjacent parks.
“Historic architecture and contemporary urban life come first in Bas Smets’ elegant reconfiguration of the tangle of streets that form the setting for both a market and a cluster of cafés. The design is strong enough to lend the space coherence without being intrusive.” – Deyan Sudjic