The largest city in Belgium has historically been a microcosm of change, particularly when it comes to the appearance and urban fabric of its core. The arrival of Expo 58 brought with it a wealth of new office and residential blocks that were needed to turn the Northern Quarter, Brussels' central business district, into a thriving, progressive hub. But in the process, a significant number of buildings met the wrecking ball. This level of urban regeneration continued with the city's role as the centre of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which led to the destruction of several neighbourhoods around the Brussels-South railway station. 

This skyscraper replaced the 1899-built Maison du Peuple, image via Wikimedia Commons

This large-scale pattern of haphazard development — introducing highrise buildings into mature neighbourhoods — has been termed Brusselization. The label doesn't apply solely to Brussels, rather, it can denote any place where uncontrolled growth emerged from a lack of zoning regulations and a laissez-faire approach to urban development. 

A sea of modern towers can be spotted from the Atomium, image by Flickr user Oriol Salvador

Rejecting this rapid modernization of their city, the outcry among protesting preservationist and environmentalist organizations eventually led to laws that restricted the demolition of buildings with architectural or historical significance. Though the move has restrained indiscriminate development to a certain extent, it has also given rise to the phenomenon of facadism.

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