Industrial traditions (4) Brownfields

Brownfield location in metropolitan Lille

Brownfield location in metropolitan Lille

Metropolitan Lille concentrates one of the largest sets of brownfields of the whole France. This means as much an urban problem due to the jobs and active urban uses loss in a context in which some areas are like a “sprawl by disappearance”, as an environmental one, due to industrial pollutants in the soil after years of industrial production.
In june 2010 Lille Metropole published a report on these brownfields and their pollution situation. Every aspect is analysed, from the spatial distribution of this problem to the national policies or the foreign experiences (with special interest in Flemish and USA cases), with a proposal of guidelines to tackle the issue from the urban planning scene. It is an interesting publication on a matter concerning more cities than usually expected.

Industrial traditions (2) Steel, rail and textile

Lille grew by a combination of industries, mainly the textiles ; Bilbao and Monterrey were clearly two steel cities, and Chattanooga, as Glenn Miller reminds in his song, grew by the rail. When industries got into trouble and pollution was deemed horrible (Bilbao and Chattanooga were not helped by scenic, but impractical hills for that matter), they became problem cities. What is interesting is to see how they avoided becoming a Detroit (whose story is still running…).

Industrial traditions (1) A sample

Old industrial cities in what we call usually the “western countries” are often an exemple of how hard it is to maintain an economic health on the long term, but also that this is achievable. Monterrey is still a reference in the Mexican industrial landscape. Chattanooga seems to be succeeding its transition to a more viable economic model. Lille tries to reinvent itself as a reference node in the European High Speed Train network, and Bilbao has in fact changed its image thanks to a museum that is, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg.

Madrid- Lille 2

Chamartin Station, Madrid, the southern tip of the Castellana extension operation (that does not include the 4 towers on the left). The Castellana extension will mean 1.204.000 sq m of offices, 330.000 of hotels and retail, and 17.000 housing units. The urban planning document was aproved in 2011, and the development will need real estate management procedures and the commitment of investors in a moment of crisis.

Euralille, Lille: a new bussiness area with 76.000 sq m of retail and 81.000 sq m for offices. On the whole operation, including the 4 remaining neighborhoods, there will be 267.000 sq m of housing, 361.000 sq m for offices, 33.820 for hotels and 148.694 for retail (built surfaces in al cases). The operation began in 1994, and in 2010, 81% of building rights were already built (in Euralille 1, 2 and Porte de Valenciennes, see

Madrid 1848

Lille around 1840

Madrid- Lille

The urban regions of Madrid (Spain) and Lille (France/ Belgium) at the same scale

Lille is the center of a multinational, multilingual urban region of more than 1 million people

Munipalities (Communes) in the french area of the map (the northern map corresponds to the Belgium regions of Flanders and Wallonie).

The Madrid Region: close to five million people

Municipalities in the Madrid Region