Living in the historic heart of Brussels. Grand Place area. Unesco World Heritage around the corner.

  • Integration issues
  • Stylistic issues
  • Programmation issues
  • Fifty years of architectural and urban obstruction

The Îlot Sacré project marks a new phase of the contemporary architectural history for a central site within the UNESCO perimeter in the historical heart of the Belgian capital. After 50 years and several abandoned urban projects, the project presented itself as the solution par excellence to give a new destination to what until recently was an urban wasteland.

Design a contemporary complex that:

— re-values the charming experience of historical Brussels.
— enriches the housing supply.
— creates a new public space in a very dense urban area.
— respects the surrounding architectural heritage.


01 Urban Planning

Reconnect Îlot Sacré with the city.

Just a few steps from the Grand Place in Brussels, the Îlot Sacré project breathed new purpose into one of the few remaining pieces of unused land within the UNESCO world heritage perimeter in the Belgian capital. The project is based on the historical urban fabric. Alleys abandoned over time have been brought back to life, creating a pedestrian network that literally repairs the neighbourhood. At the same time, a new semi-public place was created inside the block.

  • Grand Place
  • Site
  • Reactivate ancient alleys
  • New central place

02 Site plan

Arrange an intuitive residential and semi-public housing complex.

The Îlot Sacré project weaves itself into the historical urban fabric, with freestanding buildings integrating themselves into the medieval Brussels plot system. The naming of the buildings reflects the ancient street names of the alleys they are situated on.

  • Marché aux herbes
  • Marché aux Peaux
  • Sainte Pétronille
  • Une personne
  • Chapelet
  • Diligence
  • Campanile
  • Tête de bœuf
  • Bouchers

03 Programme

Structure diversity. Various types of living, for a mixed population.

By offering apartments of different dimensions and configurations, as well as student accommodation, Îlot Sacré caters to a diverse public. Given the vicinity of several high schools, it fills a need for quality housing in a dynamic neighbourhood. The project includes two commercial units, on the same streets that served the Brussels community for decades, rue des Bouchers and rue du Marché aux Herbes.

  • Stores
  • Student houses
  • Studios
  • Apartments
  • Individual houses

04 Stylistic

Reconcile history and modernity.

The external facades offer a modern reinterpretation of the historical streets on which they are situated. Stylistic elements characteristic of the neighbouring buildings underline the architectural composition. In light of the project’s residential function, the block’s interior has a quiet and intimate feeling. The lower part of the facade, next to which pedestrians stroll along the alleys, is composed of a regular superimposition of vertical windows that evokes Brussels architecture. The use of white bricks enhances light reflection. The top floor apartments are recessed and finished dark grey slate. The gable-roofed sections reflect the neighbourhood’s existing architecture while maintaining a deliberately modern and individual character. They appear to be ‘freestanding rooftop houses’.

  • Classic façades re-interpreted
  • Terraces
  • Contemporary houses on the roof
  • Extruded windows


A simple answer to a complex question. Writing a new story for an urban wasteland.

Technical information

Brussels, Belgium
6.000 m²
New construction


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Didier Peremans

Architect - Partner