Eupen,   19.11.2019

The built landscape

Between affordable housing and a ‘stop of concrete’. Grey and green infrastructure in cross-border dialogue.

The 4th cross-border dialogue forum of the Three Countries Parks took place in Eupen on 19 November. Numerous participants from Wallonia, Flanders, North-Rhine Westphalia and Dutch Limburg engaged in a lively discussion on the future of the built environment.

“Living space must be conceived differently, so that it becomes affordable for many people once again. At the same time, urban concepts must also consider social togetherness, impacts on the landscape and the challenges of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions,” said Claudia Niessen, Mayor of Eupen and herself an architect and urban planner, in her opening address. This also means: sufficient space for trees and wetland areas – which cool the landscape and serve as buffers during periods of rainfall and drought – as well as better green corridors for people and wildlife alike. With this in mind, it is a declared aim of the EU to avoid any additional land sealing as from 2050 with its “zero net land take target”. How can that work? Especially in a border region?

As ever, the Three Countries Park invited exciting projects to present their approaches. These concerned e.g. a residential monitor for the Euregion, urban-rural zones in South Limburg, densification and defragmentation in Flanders, enshrining of the “zero net land take target” in Wallonian regional planning, adaptation to climate change in the urban region of Aachen and planning for sustainable living space in eastern Belgium. The people’s perspective was also an issue, e.g. in the “Ateliers du territoire” in the Pays de Herve and the People-to-People project “Dear Landscape”.

The aim of the Three Countries Park in all cases is to bolster the landscape in the metropolitan space of the MAHHL cities (Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen and Liège) and to promote borderless green infrastructure. “A great deal of cooperation is necessary, not only across national borders, but also across disciplinary boundaries,” said Dr Anja Brüll, project manager of the Three Countries Park, “in order to shape the societal transformation from urban growth to a sustainable, climate-robust development of the region. Where cooperation succeeds, however, new spaces with a high degree of attractiveness and quality of life emerge.”

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