Waffles with whipped cream should be delighted by Jack Frank Squire

Pascal Smit (one.bruses-Vooruit) announced the aesthetic intervention at Jacques Francksquare in Saint-Gilles “This summer, Saint-Gilles youth will play football on the largest Brussels cake in the world”. But can licking paint improve a poorly decorated square?

Jacques Francksquare in Saint-Gilles was looking a little different a few days ago. A floor plate of a giant Brussels cake with whipped cream adorns the sky blue soccer field, in the shadow of two apartment towers near Haliport.

“This floor painting was done with young people from the neighborhood and with the youth service of the municipality of Sint Gillies,” it can be read in a press release sent to the world by Pascal Smit. “Six young neighbors painted every day. The artwork is a temporary intervention and will gradually disappear.” (Read more below the photo)

© Cabinet Pascal Smit (one.brussels-Vooruit)

| Artist Catherine Vanderlinden painted the floor with young people from the neighbourhood. It is a temporary painting whose drawing is gradually disappearing.

Jacques Franksquare was updated at the beginning of 2019, then as part of the Fontainas neighborhood contract. The arena was provided with wider pedestrian walkways, more green space and a renovated sports field with two basketball courts and a football field.

“However, there are questions about the redevelopment among the locals,” admits Smit, who wonders how to brighten the square and make it more appealing to other ages and girls.

‘An intervention that can only be done in Brussels’

Smit and the St Gillies City Council have asked artist Catherine Vanderlinden to think about this. “I was looking for something familiar to all nationalities, young and old,” she says. “I was looking for something typical from here. Brussels Waffle, a culinary heritage. This is an intervention that can only be done in Brussels.”

The technical intervention is part of the VGC’s Playcation project, an experiment of the Flemish Community Committee on Sports Games and Incentives, and has been realized in part by the municipality of Sint-Gillis.

But is the painting enough to meet the challenge of making the square more attractive to everyone? In other words: Will licking paint eliminate gender inequality in the boy-dominated (soccer) arena? What about the insecurity in and around the field?

Drugs and fights

The neighborhood surrounding Jack Frank Square has been known for years as “vital.” This became clear last year when a police officer was beaten up by a group of young men. A day after, young men from Maruli and St Gillies clash in a big fight.

Asked about drug hotspots in the Southern Police District, spokeswoman Sarah Fredericks described the area around Jack Frank as a “persistent point of interest.”

Jack Frank's place

© Photo News

| Jack Franklin, without floor paint.

William Stevens (one.brussels-Vooruit) admits the arena could be improved. He is a local councilor for youth and urban renewal in Saint-Gilles. “With the new Southern District contract, we are providing the resources for a real upgrade of this plaza, which we want to achieve with locals and young people. Street Art by Catherine Vanderlinden is a good omen for the improvement process we will begin in the coming months.”

“targeted interventions”

Stevens thinks of “a few targeted interventions.” Which of them exactly is not clear at the moment. Shippen Stevens could not be reached at the time of writing.

In any case, the plaza upgrade should take into account the concerns of local residents, who were not entirely satisfied with the outcome at the time of the redevelopment in 2019. They found, among other things, that there were very few seating areas. Although the square was given a new lawn and trees three years ago, today the stone plain and multi-sports area dominate the square.

welcome everyone?

This makes the square seem oriented mainly to boys and men, so that girls and women rarely make use of the entire public space.

In 2019, Kind & Samenleving vzw conducted a Buitenspel survey, which showed that girls play outside much less than boys. The study found that girls do not like to play outside or are less adventurous and difficult, but do not feel welcome, especially not in a place called for by a particular group.

It is a concern shared by the City of Brussels for which it launched a call for projects in May. It remains to be seen if the girls will feel more welcome at Jacques Franckplein because of the waffle with whipped cream.

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