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BRUSSELS STUDIES INSTITUTE

The ten-minute city

The BSI is currently working on a research project on the ten-minute city as part of the revision of the City of Brussels’ Municipal Plan for Sustainable Development. This project is part of one of the seven major ambitions of the current city council to strengthen the network of local services. Indeed, the accessibility of local services is not only fundamental to the social and economic life of all Brussels residents, but also contributes to the reduction of our ecological footprint. 

The aim of this project is to develop a concept for the ten-minute city that, in addition to mapping existing services at the local level, can also become an operational tool to improve the quality of services, both in terms of provision and accessibility. 

The territory of the city of Brussels combines several functions. It offers housing, employment, is an important commercial function and an important traffic junction. The concept of the ten-minute city is intended to respond to these different functions while drawing attention to a number of specific dynamics. By providing sufficient access to local services, the ten-minute city aims to provide an answer to the strong socio-spatial inequalities in the city and the needs of the most vulnerable and isolated groups. The city of Brussels has also experienced strong growth in recent years, especially of young people and newcomers, which has led to a whole range of new needs, such as employment and housing. The ten-minute city must also take this into account. Finally, the ten-minute city should also help to reduce motorised mobility, thus contributing to a reduction in our ecological footprint.

The research started from a whole range of questions. Which needs do we want to meet? What exactly do we mean by proximity and accessibility? How can we take into account the diversity of a neighbourhood and its needs? How do we reduce the need for motorised mobility? Should other forms of transport be provided, such as metro, trains or bicycle networks? How do we ensure that vulnerable groups, such as working class families who are highly dependent on their car, are not disadvantaged by this approach? How do we coordinate with the surrounding areas and their policy makers, administrations and services in charge of mobility? What urban policy instruments are needed for this project? How do we take into account new needs created by the pandemic (such as green spaces, teleworking and online commerce)?

No fewer than six centres from five universities are collaborating on this project: the Institut de Gestion de l’Environnement et d’Aménagement du Territoire (IGEAT, ULB), the Laboratory on Landscape, Urbanism, Infrastructures and Ecologies (LoUIsE, ULB), Spatial Applications Division Leuven (SADL, KU Leuven), the Centre de recherches et d’études pour l’action territoriale (CREAT, UCLouvain), the Centre de recherches et d’intervention sociologique (CESIR, USL-B) and Cosmopolis (VUB).

In each phase, there is also close cooperation with the municipal services and political representatives.

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