Flemish Government Architect’s scan: Halle

Flanders faces the challenge of transforming its cities and villages into sustainable living environments. The Flemish Government Architect’s design and policy 'scans' will serve to kickstart the transition. We examined six municipalities in a multidisciplinary team (among them 2DVW Architecten). One of these is Halle.

Halle’s core strength

Halle is a city with almost 40.000 inhabitants on the Flemish-Walloon border, just south of Brussels. The latter makes the municipality a popular place to live; it is prosperous and knows high employment. In addition to its favourable location, Halle itself has a lot to offer. It is a bustling city on the river Zenne and is surrounded by important green areas, such as the Pajottenland, the Zenne valley and the Hallerbos.


With its surrounding greenery and urban vitality, Halle forms a valuable living environment. By concentrating on preserving and expanding it, Halle can increase the liveability and sustainability of the city simultaneously. At the same time, Halle can contribute to broader climate and environmental objectives. An active attitude from the municipality and an all-encompassing vision are necessary to achieve this. Where necessary and possible, cooperation at a regional scale helps to seize opportunities and find solutions to problems.


Brussels brings Halle many positives, but is also the source of some of the problems Halle faces. For example, Halle feels the pressure of an ‘expanding Brussels’ and is increasingly becoming the centre of gravity of the province in terms of roads, inhabitants, business, and educational facilities. Although Halle is not (yet) recognised as a regional centre, it does encounter the same metropolitan problems. The municipality faces challenges such as accommodating the rapidly growing population, a greater burden on the mobility system, and the need to reduce the car’s dominant position. The pressure on open space is great, as is the urgency to move towards a climate-neutral city.


To make optimum use of the core power of Hale – a bustling city on the Zenne – the following three ambitions have been defined:

Ambition 1. Continuity in the green structure and nature up to the city centre.
It is important to keep the expansion of the city within the confines of the Zenne valley. This allows ecological development and reinforcement to take place.

Ambition 2. Infrastructure as structural element for future developments.
Adjustments to the Brussels-Charleroi canal ensure a regional passage through a pleasant environment with a green-blue character. The road network around Halle offers opportunities to limit the further expansion of the city centre to the outlying area and to reduce or at least relieve traffic in the city centre. Additionally, activity and the generation of renewable energy on the outskirts of the city form a buffer for the landscape.

Ambition 3. Uniting two halves of the city.
The classic quality of Halle lies in the area within the old city fortress. However, the new city centre is located on two sides of the Zenne with the station as the centre. In the vision, it is important to see the station area as a regional hub and an opportunity for strategic and sustainable densification. A ‘green ring’ for slow traffic has been devised to unite the two separate city halves. The city centre is made even more pleasant by a gradual phase-out of parked cars. Fewer cars means a cyclist and pedestrian-friendly city centre, which means more lively streets, better turnover for shops, and reduced vacancy. The city centre is no longer aimed at the car, but at the bicycle.


Marijke Ceunen, alderman Sustainable, Space and Living for the town of Halle: “The Government Architect’s scan has introduced new and challenging ideas, and compiled the current projects and policy objectives of the city in an attractive document. In order to successfully execute the Government Architect’s scan, there is a need for an integral and coherent vision, and a set of instruments for regulation and enforcement.

If Halle wants to implement its innovative spatial policy, tools, such as an instrumentation that provides for planning damage for zoning changes, are essential. The report gives clear recommendations for this.

The Government Architect’s scan mainly focuses on the urban core area of Halle. A steering committee ensures that the insights of the scan are extended across the entire territory, that they form the basis for the drafting of the climate plan, and that there is great support among the city services, policies and citizens.”