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Esplanade of the European Parliament: Map

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Entrance to the Parliament's Altiero Spinelli building in the centre of the mall
The northern segment of the Mall, looking south
The Brandt building, looking north
Entrance to the Brussels-Luxembourg Station
The southern segment of the mall, looking north
The Esplanade of the European Parliament, or simply the mall, ( , or , ) is a pedestrian mall in Brusselsmarker (Belgiummarker), completed in 2002.

Position

The mall runs the central length of the Espace Léopoldmarker (the European Parliamentmarker buildings in Brussels), with the Alterio Spinelli building to the east and the Willy Brandt and József Antall to the west joined to the former by the circular Konrad Adenauer footbridge running over the mall. The former station building (see below) has been converted into a information centre and fronts onto Luxembourg Squaremarker.

The mall itself covers a once over-ground railway station, the Brussels-Luxembourg Stationmarker (formerly known as the Leopold Quarter station). The paving over the top of the station allowed the construction of Parliament and created a direct link between Luxembourg Square to the west and Leopold Parkmarker to the east. The train station's old entrance, since converted into part of the Parliamentary complex, is replaced by a glass covered stairway rising out of the mall's southern portion. The far south end is flanked by low-rise apartment blocks and is adjacent to local museums.

Criticism

It has been criticised for "leading nowhere" as, aside from the Parliament and railway station, the mall is devoid of life. Parliamentary authorities did not wish to share the site with private enterprise, and hence there are no shops or services along its entire length. There are plans to extend it along the railway tracks to the north, meeting up with the Berlaymontmarker on the Rue de la Loimarker and to the south, so the Commission's extra 'pole' of buildings in Auderghemmarker however residential opposition and delays mean this is not likely.

Design

The mall is largely light pink and white flagstone, with the southern segment broken by grassy areas running down its centre. It curves following the layout of the train station below and the Parliamentary buildings above built around the tracks. In the stone in the northern segment are engraved marble slabs in the ground commemorating the first meeting of the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty on 17 October 1987 in Parismarker. They are written in four languages and contains a quote from Joseph Wresinski and a commemoration of the 29 May 2002 follow up meeting in Brussels.

In the re-planning of the European Quartermarker, the "public stature" of the mall is to be reinforced, along with the east-west connections. The northern end, which cuts off suddenly at Belliard Road, is to be improved, subject to an architecture competition. The southern segment will also be improved with better connections to residences, the park and the local museums. The government also seeks ideas on how to bring more life to the mall.

Name

According to Brussels' government, the term the mall, translated from the French le mail, was given by the designers due to the origin of the word mail. The etymology of mail refers to the game, mail (a form of croquet) which was played in 16th century Francemarker on a raised grassy valley adjoining the Tuileries Palace Gardensmarker. The proximity of Leopold Parkmarker to the esplanade, which was originally higher, led the designers to apply the term.

References

  1. Roep om compacter stadsweefsel klinkt luider, Brussel Deze Week
  2. Schéma directeur du quartier européen, Brussels-Capital Region



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