Capital City Trail

02/07/2020Soil + Water
WEB BXL CIVA Trail proj 20 VI30 02

Capital City Trail (Agroforestry Allée)

Proposed by Soil + Water (Annemie Maes, Jean-François Paquay, Sue Spaid and Vera Thaens). Soil + Water joins artists, bee keepers, cartographers, gardeners and environmental philosophers inhabiting Brussels, Limburg and Brabant-Wallon. We have the know-how and experience to interface with the City, while engaging inhabitants to build and protect their trail.

The 2020 “lockdown” awakened inhabitants’ appetites for nature walks. Soil + Water thus propose a 9.5km trail that articulates nature intersecting the pentagon’s numerous pedestrian walkways and public squares, echoing the various waterways flowing underfoot. By 2030, this trail will evolve into the world’s first “agroforestry allée,” a sustainable (low-maintenance) greenway for growing food, recycling water, eliminating stormwater runoff and reducing adjacent buildings’ energy use. Easily accessible, this customizable trail intersects 8 public transport hubs.

0. Gare Bruxelles-Schuman

  1. Berlaymont- European Commission Headquarters: Rewild greenspaces with edible species and wildflowers (tübingermengsel). Drain stormwater flowing off garage driveway into a cistern to water greenspaces. Green corner sculpture park with wildflowers and let “pioneers” thrive.
  2. Ambiorix Square/Parvis Mary Louise- Improve biodiversity by replacing grass with meadows and wild flowers. Plant bushes on slopes to retain water and reduce erosion. Using the hedges as a backdrop, extend the lavender rows (there are currently only 2 short ones) with bee-friendly perennials and shrubs that facilitate a constant bloom. Use native water plants to transform the existing cascading fountain into a natural water purification system, whose resulting clear and healthy water will not only eliminate the need to hire a firm to harvest the algae, but it will articulate its capacity to recycle water for reuse.
  3. La Brabançonne statue
  4. Rue du Congrès- Create a “vineyard street” by lining streets with grape vines to create a special walking environment and bird food/habitat.
  5. Place Congrès (tomb of unknown soldier)
  6. Le Jardin de Pechère de la cité administrative-The biodiversity needs to be upgraded throughout, especially since the plants are suffering drought. The Geometric Garden should feature bee-friendly plants, like those growing outside planters. When cleaned up, the sand pit will provide quietude.
  7. Potager Alhambra Moestuin- great local example.
  8. KVS Park (Quai au Foin)- Improve biodiversity with meadows and bee-friendly plants. Edge bicycle path with rentable potagers protected by wooden-stake fences (like Anspach South’s temporary fences).
  9. Quai du Commerce- (see #8).
  10. Brussels by water “ticket booth”- In 2020, storm drains should not dump into canals. People desire greater canal access plus water entering seas contributes to sea rise. We propose 3-5 150m2 natural purification islands, sited adjacent Quay01. This floating artwork would be visible to Kanal visitors, as well as Tour & Taxis attendees. Once cleaned, the floating islands could be reconfigured to create a floating pool for “Pool is Cool.”
  11. Boulevard Ypres (see #8) to Ypres stop (Tram 51 goes everywhere)
  12. Plaine de Jeux Quai à la Houille- Once the citizen survey surfaces, we may have ideas on how to implement neighbors’ preferences.
  13. Marché aux Poissons- Install natural water purification system around the fountain to clean both pools. Enclose suffering Linden Trees (12 are on their last legs) in wildflower bands with permeable paths for square access. Install a gardeners’ hut plus rentable, fence-protected potagers.
  14. Place Sainte-Catherine- Place sign that says: “On St. Cathèrine’s Day (25 November), all woods take root” (ancient “tree” proverb). Site “Capital City Trail” kiosk with trail maps and information about potager rentals, farming supplies, seeds, soil, composting, permaculture courses. Install stations for composting food scraps and recycling vegetable rinse water.
  15. Place de Brouckère- Anspach North becomes “Vineyard Street”.
  16. Bourse- For this new park to succeed, there must be stormwater recycling, so as to prevent stormwater from entering canal and floating out to sea.
  17. Île St. Géry- rest stop for food, toilet, trail maps, and guided Senne peek.
  18. Anspach- To save existing trees and shrubs, concrete boxes must be 2-3 times bigger.
  19. Anspach South- Replace iron edging with stone, because iron is killing plants (note 50cm edge). Water plants with rainwater harvested from gutters.
  20. Place Fontainas- Six newly planted trees are already dead due to lack of water. We recommend collecting/cleaning/recycling stormwater from adjacent rooftops and streets to cheaply water each of six teardrop islands, which desperately need top soil before planting continues. Bury a large enough cistern to collect water to also water Parc Fontainas.
  21. Parc Fontainas- A lovely park and a model for what is possible throughout Brussels, but unfortunately there is too little attention to soil, insufficient water, and nothing edible. Plant agroforestry patch to create international urban agroforestry training center.
  22. Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier- Plant agroforestry strip down its center.
  23. Rue Stalingrad- Once Metro 3 js completed in 2027, the center islands become a “0km urban farm” managed by a farmer whose shop sells harvested produce and supplies urban farming materials.
  24. Gare du Midi/Zuid

Proposed Schedule

Immediately- Recruit inhabitants to build portable hedges to be sited on

Brussels’ terraces to facilitate cozier, socially-distanced dining.

Summer- Add top soil, sow wild flowers (Berlaymont, Ambiorix/Marie

Louise Square & Marché aux Poissons). Hire tree doctor to advise how

much space is needed to keep trees healthy.

Fall/Winter 2020 Create two Vineyard Walking streets and agroforest Parc


Fall-Spring 2020 Install rainwater harvesting systems- Marché aux Poissons,

Anspach South, Berlaymont and Ambiorix cascading fountains.

Fall/Winter 2020 Add compost to Parc Fontainas and Place Fontainas.

Fall 2020 Recruit inhabitants for potager and agroforestry workshops.

Spring 2021 Offer workshops (making soil, using bokashi, sowing seeds, plant management).

Spring 2021 Install water recycling system at Place Fontainas.

Spring 2021 Install trail signs describing each site’s ecological benefits and the

waterway underfoot.

Summer 2021 Install floating islands along the canal.

Summer 2022 Start transitioning from boxes and potagers to agroforestry allées.

Fall 2027 Prepare soil to plant urban farm.