In 2012, Olivier Bastin, chief architect of the Brussels region, asked four international architecture firms for their vision of the urban infrastructure of Brussels and the future of the city’s North-South rail link. Each firm, including Xaveer De Geyter Architects (XDGA) created a tapestry measuring 4 x 4 metres to illustrate their vision.
Since 1952, the 2.8-kilometre North-South rail link has connected the city’s northern and southern train stations. However, traffic on the line has reached saturation point, raising fundamental questions regarding the infrastructure. XDGA offered a topographical interpretation of the city and revealed the impressive amount of underground space tied to the rail link.
The centre of the tapestry portrays the urban infrastructure as a whole, while the surrounding 12 sections zoom in on specific details. For XDGA, the rail link is necessary to maintain a cohesive urban infrastructure. The firm proposed creating a new, partially underground connection between east and west of the city that would also form a link to the lower lying areas of the city.
The four tapestries were made specially made for the exhibition ‘4x4. Vier visies op de Noord-Zuidverbinding’, as part of an architectural programme by the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR) and Belgian architecture magazine A+.
The tapestry comprises various blocked surfaces, colours and lines. The biggest challenge was to get the surfaces precise and to determine the decorative lines so that the different parts of the work fitted together properly. The tapestry had to be flat and smooth.
Acclaimed Belgian architect Xaveer De Geyter (1957) began his career in 1988 when he founded the XDGA architecture bureau. XDGA works on infrastructure projects, public programmes, housing and research. The bureau has won numerous prizes, including the Belgian Prize for Architecture in 2013 and the Flemish Culture Award for Architecture 2014.