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Urban Palimpsest

Part 2 Project 2023
John Pottage
Mackintosh School of Architecture | UK
This thesis analyses the unsustainable legacy of modernist planning principles in Brussel’s Northern Quarter and re-interprets the district as a palimpsest of layers across multiple scales: the macro urban scale, and the micro component scale. At the macro scale, a masterplan is created that aims to re-connect the Northern Quarter with its neighbouring districts via a restored historic East-West thoroughfare, and re-associates the district with its lost identity as a thriving mixed-use quarter. At the micro scale, under-used and semi-vacant modernist buildings are valued as repositories of component artefacts, to be reclaimed and re-used in the construction of new productive streetscapes and architecture that provides for the people of Brussels in 2023.

As an antithesis to the 1960s modernist masterplan, this approach values the existing modernist buildings as banks of valuable materials that can be re-arranged to form new urban fabric. Thriving mixed-use streetscapes are curated by interpreting and editing layers of historic morphology, establishing ethical urbanism that nurtures a diverse range of economic activities and housing needs.

John Pottage

Charlie Sutherland
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