Although this is already mentioned in the 2019 Walloon Coalition Agreement, Wallonia will only speak concretely of Baumeister after last year’s floods. De Bouwmeester can help us adapt to the climate, make better policy decisions and shine a light on our identities. The government must set a good example,” says Veronica Cremasco, Walloon MP for Ecolo. Now that the Fezder Valley Inquiry has worked on recommendations, Wallonia is thinking about where it wants to go in (urban) planning. Some things …
Although this is already mentioned in the 2019 Walloon Coalition Agreement, Wallonia will only speak concretely of Baumeister after last year’s floods. De Bouwmeester can help us adapt to the climate, make better policy decisions and shine a light on our identities. The government must set a good example,” says Veronica Cremasco, Walloon Member of Parliament for Ecolo.
Now that the Post-Flood Inquiry has worked on the recommendations, Wallonia is thinking about where it wants to go in (urban) planning. Several things come together: The Walloon government hired famous Italian city planner Paola Vigano to create a master plan for the Weser Valley. This plan should ensure that reconstruction proceeds smoothly. In addition, the planned reconstruction after last summer’s floods created the political momentum to force the ruling Walloon MR party to take action on the “Bouwmeester”.
After all, the idea was already mentioned in the alliance agreement concluded by PS, Ecolo and the Liberals in 2019: Wallonia needs Bouwmeester, following in the footsteps of Flanders and Brussels. But this idea was on its way to being referred to the Greek calendar for a long time. He frequents the trails that MR in particular wasn’t fond of the idea. Until the flood, that is.
PS and Ecolo in particular see a future in Walloon Bouwmeester. Both parties have climate ambitions and believe that the Walloon government should take the lead by adapting a large portion of the government’s assets to the changing climate itself, and renewing it, thus setting a good example.
†Our government assets are often outdated and energy consuming. We can’t tell people an adaptation story if we don’t do it ourselves‘,” says Veronica Cremasco, Walloon Member of Parliament for Ecolo, and one of Walloon Bouwmeester’s biggest advocates, to Doorbraak.
It is true that the Bouwmeester idea is gaining traction due to the floods, but that is not the main reason why I think Wallonia needs a Bouwmeester. I basically see a double function: First and foremost, we have to set a good example for ourselves on climate goals. And second, Bouwmeester allows us to craft a better view of our identity and our landscape.
“Walonia has plenty of space, but little beautiful architecture that relies on a vision or identity,” says Cremasco. The opposite is true in Flanders: you have beautiful architecture that radiates more and more vision, but a small space and a chaotic past of spatial planning. Under the influence of Bouwmeester, I began to think more deeply about these things. In Wallonia, a stunning architect like Santiago Calatrava is allowed to design a modern station in Liège, and easily do the same again in Mons. That’s easy, but don’t stress about the identity of our cities.
For smaller Walloon cities, there is also the problem that our bids must always officially reserve the cheapest bids in a government heritage architectural bid. In Flanders, more attention is paid to the quality of the design. This is what we should strive fortaking into account our identities and ambitions.
city and countryside
For Cremasco, the distinction between urban and rural areas of Wallonia must be clarified, lest we make the same mistake that Flanders made. Not everyone has to live in an apartment, especially not in the countryside. But there is a demand to live in the city. Master Builder can breathe new life into some dying city. I think of the Verviers, in the Vesder Valley, which was badly damaged by floods. Before the floods, Verviers was already experiencing serious social and economic problems. The city center was quartered, and the shops moved away. And what does the council do? Building a shopping mall, especially in a place where there appears to be a serious flood risk. Any Bouwmeester can think of the situation and lead to a better policy, certainly after the master plan for the Vesder Valley is completed.
Once every 200 years
Member of Parliament Walon Ikolo is also a member of the Flood Inquiry Committee. Cremasco: Personally, I think the floods happened to us: it was a once-in-200-year set of weather conditions. It is very easy to pass the responsibility on to the management of the Eupen Dam. Because they were not aware of a similar situation, the reservoir was flooded, and they did not expect the rains to continue in this way.
Nobody talks about the valleys of Ourthe and Hoëgne (a tributary of Vesder, ed.), but there is also serious material damage from flooding that was not caused by poor management of the reservoirs, continues Cremasco. The problem was complex. In Liege, by the way, they appreciated well and sacrificed the lock and complex of hydroponic stations to evacuate the water as quickly as possible.
“I think it’s better to learn lessons and prevent something like this from happening again. Before the floods, people were not awake to disasters. Now we’ve all learned to be preparedWe have to adapt our lives and our way of building accordingly.
As a resident of Liege, Cremasco, herself an architect, had to be evacuated during the floods.
Tomorrow Thursday, February 24th, Le Soir newspaper organizes a symposium on the Walloon architect with the French community. All Walloon and French-speaking community ministers will be present. A double problem arises: the lack of momentum, combined with the fact that the Walloon government has already announced that it will save 150 million euros annually until 2024, is in a deteriorating financial position. Damage to reconstruction after the floods has already reached into the billions. Moreover, the collective trauma of a large part of the Walloon population cannot be expressed in monetary terms.
It remains to be seen whether this shock in these circumstances will result in a Baumeister with strength and power. I believe in him, but for a long time no one was worried about this major build. There is still a lot of work to be done,” concludes Cremasco.
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