Belvédère: a district that adds something to the city
At less than 500 metres from Vrijthof Square, Market Square and the renowned city centre, a new Maastricht district is being created: Belvédère. A district that will add something to the city, something that the city does not yet have. A place for young people, students, entrepreneurs, expats, creative artists and culture enthusiasts. A place characterised by ‘rugged ’ and ‘boisterous’ rather than ‘stylish’. A place where the past and the contemporary will come together in new, exciting and cultural functions in former industrial buildings. A place where the new Frontenpark will be created. Not traditional and neatly laid out, but a park with possibilities for activities, enthralling nature and old fortifications. Belvédère will also be a place that offers ample opportunities for experiments and temporary functions. Moreover, an area that will be easily accessible thanks to the exit ramp being built to the west of the Noorderbrug bridge.
In other words, a completely new Maastricht district will be created in the next few years within walking distance of the city centre.
Three sub-districts in Belvédère
The total Belvédère district will cover more than 125 hectare (more than 200 football pitches) and will extend from the city centre to the Belgian border. The district can best be divided into three sub-districts. The area within the major ring roads around the former Sphinx factories with the Eiffel industrial monument being the most notable building, the new Frontenpark, and the new projected route leading to the Noorderbrug bridge with the industrial estates to the north.
Eiffel building and Sphinx factories: icon of the new Sphinx urban district
No one can fail to notice the striking white Eiffel building along the Boschstraat. It is clearly recognisable from all parts of and all approach roads to Maastricht. The decades of sanitary earthenware production by Sphinx Sanitair continued here right up until 2006. This business had been set up by Petrus Regout, the Netherlands’ first industrialist. There is almost no home in the entire Netherlands that does not contain sanitary articles made in this factory. It is also the location where thousands of inhabitants of Maastricht, Limburg and Belgium worked for years on end. Its visibility and the recollections of many have ensured that the building is the icon of Belvédère. An icon that deserves a second life.
Sphinx urban district: a cultural and creative beating heart
The many former industrial premises of Sphinx Sanitair will be given a new function and as such will form the basis for the new Sphinx urban district. A district that will be the cultural and beating heart of Belvédère. A lot will be happening in the next few years:
- Timmerfabriek: this part already houses the Muziekgieterij (pop podium). Owing to its success, a hall for 1,000 visitors will be added in the next twelve months (2015). Together with the smaller hall that accommodates approximately 500 visitors, a fully-fledged pop podium will be created for the city. A new expo function will be created in the Timmerfabriek and Bureau Europa (organisation for architecture and design: www.bureau-europa.nl) will continue to be housed in the building.
- Timmerfabriek/Ketelhuis: this will be the new location for the Lumière Cinema. There will be six film theatres for arthouse films, a bar, restaurant and terrace. Opening late 2015.
- Eiffel Building: Adjacent to the Eiffel building: new Pathé cinema. Eight modern film theatres for the latest films and filmed concerts. Opening autumn 2015.
- Former head office of Sphinx Sanitair (Boschstraat): this will be the new location of UNU-MERIT. A renowned research and training centre of United Nations University (UNU) and Maastricht University (UM). Opening autumn 2015.
- Eiffel Building: a declaration of intent has been concluded with The Student Hotel. If everything goes according to plan, two-thirds of the building will be taken up by furnished rooms for foreign students. The plans involve more than 300 rooms. A combination of residences, workplaces, catering establishments and retail businesses is being considered for the remaining part of the building.
- ‘Mouleurs/De Belgen’: the occupancy of this oldest section of the former Sphinx factories is currently being considered by Loods 5, a large hip and trendy residential furnishings store. As in the case of The Student Hotel, a declaration of intent has been concluded.
- Former utility services site: 250 residences and apartments have been or will be built here in the foreseeable future. Living within walking distance of the city centre.
Frontenpark: exciting combination of city, nature and history
As a result of the Noorderbrug bridge new exit ramp, a park will be created on the northern side of the city centre. The new park will once again feature the old fortifications (Lage Fronten), which will be accessible to everyone. The old link to the Hoge Fronten fortifications will also be restored. The park will also contain facilities for rare species such as wall lizards, slow worms and bats. The park will not be a traditional neatly arranged park, but will be far more rugged in character. It will also offer possibilities for events such as open-air film shows. The park will also incorporate the former municipal gasholder. At present, the gasholder is still part of an existing industrial site. In the future, it will be part of the park and can be used for events.
Belvédère: possible due to infrastructural changes
Within a period of 10 years, Maastricht is investing almost one billion euros in the improvement of its infrastructure. In addition to the A2 motorway tunnel, the Noorderbrug bridge exit ramp will be
re-routed and a tram service will be introduced between Hasselt and Maastricht. These two projects will be crucial to Belvédère. By moving the Noorderbrug bridge western exit ramp to the north, space will be created for the new Frontenpark and the city will have more ‘green’ breathing space on the northern side. As a result of this change, traffic congestion along the former city ring roads will be greatly reduced. By re-routing the bridge exit ramp, the entire area will be optimally accessible thanks to the new traffic structure. Moreover, the tram stop in Belvédère will mean that the tram to and from Hasselt will offer a sustainable transport possibility to the many Belgian visitors and commuters travelling to the city.