Page 1

spring 2012



wallonia and br us sels

The fast track A brief histor y of Wallonia’s railway heritage

Cour ting culture La Louvière’s long-running af fair with modern ar t

Gourmet tour Regional produce in the spotlight



1 - w a b - June 2009

tour is m

ag en d a


Emilie Dequenne wins her second Best Actress award at Cannes


panorama Charleroi’s photo museum celebrates 25 years of iconic images

news briefing Liège space telescope in Hawaii; pioneering work on dementia; new and renovated museums; new elite sports complex



Cover: Corbis




A brief histor y of Wallonia’s railway heritage

Cour ting culture La Louvière’s long-running af fair with modern ar t

Gourmet tour Regional produce in the spotlight

Editor-in-chief Sarah Crew

Deputy editor Sally Tipper


1 - w a b - June 2009


tour is m

ag en d a

Reporters Martin Banks, Leo Cendrowicz, Marie Dumont, Stephanie Duval, Andy Furniere, Anne-Laure de Harlez, Anna Jenkinson, Ed Morrison, Emma

Namur’s citadel is a major tourist attraction with a vibrant history and lots of activities

Portier Davis, Saffina Rana


Art director

The railway innovators of Wallonia, past and present

General manager

Patricia Brossel Joske Plas



26 2 - Spring 2012


The fast track

Taste Wallonia in a culinary tourist trail of the region, starting with all things sweet

Environment- and storage-friendly furniture in Wavre, and designer Olivia Hainaut, the Brussels-based queen of embroidery


wallonia and br us sels



the big picture

A quarterly magazine focusing on Wallonia and Brussels


La Louvière is the arts hot spot of the year, reinventing its past with the Métropôle Culture

La Louvière showman Franco Dragone is staging extravaganzas in five Chinese cities





A Waterloo company is providing clean water to the world’s poorest citizens, while satellites made in Liège are orbiting the planet

wallonia and brussels

spring 2012



s p r i n g 2 012


philippe lermusiaux

pierre carril

c ontents



investment A new eco-building near Charleroi is distributing CocaCola in Wallonia


agenda The colourful events in Brussels and Wallonia that are warming up the season

encounter François Fornieri of Mithra Pharmaceuticals has been declared Manager of the Year

Editorial committee: AWEX/WBI and The Bulletin/ Ackroyd Publications

Editeur responsable:

Philippe Suinen – AWEX/WBI

For more information on Wab magazine contact: Marie-Catherine Duchêne AWEX, Place Sainctelette 2 1080 Brussels, Belgium Tel: 00.32(0)2.421.85.76 Fax: 00.32(0)2.421.83.93 email: Spring 2012 - 3


the big pic ture

Emilie conquers Cannes


he 30-year-old Hainaut-born actress Emilie Dequenne has repeated her red-carpet success at the prestigious 65th Cannes film festival in France. She was named best actress for her performance in Loving Without Reason (A perdre la raison) in the category Un certain regard. Dequenne (pictured in a still from the film) was rewarded for her emotionally charged role as a mother who kills her children in a fictional take on a real family tragedy. The drama, directed by Joachim Lafosse has been widely lauded for its powerful yet sensitive and non-sensational treatment of the subject matter. Delighted to win the prize, Dequenne said she had ignored all reports about the case, preferring “to remain in the fictional” and maintain “a real barrier between the character and myself”. The accolade comes 13 years after Dequenne was similarly rewarded for her debut performance in the Dardenne brothers’ FrancoBelgian film Rosetta. 4 - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 - 5

First Walloon indoor running track

Facelift for Battle of the Bulge museum

An elite sports complex is to be built in Louvain-la-Neuve. The university campus town fought off fierce competition from the city of Liège before being awarded the project. Louvain-la-Neuve was supported by Jacques Borlée, the father and trainer of Olympic hopefuls Kevin and Jonathan, as well as Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merck x. Jacques Borlée said: “The project matches the best of what I have seen in the world in terms of highlevel athletic training.” The complex will prioritise sports that do not currently have training facilities in Wallonia. In addition to an indoor running track it will also provide for sports such as fencing, judo, badminton and table-tennis. A-L dH

A popular Ardennes World War Two museum is to get a facelift to make it one of the best in Europe. The Museum of Gleize December 1944 is due to double in size and house scores of new collections. “When the work is completed it will be one of the most outstanding museums of its kind in Europe,” declared museum director Philippe Gillain. The museum, at the site near Neufchâteau where the Germans lost the famous Battle of the Bulge, is badly in need of refurbishment. The improvements will start later this year and include a new reception area and better facilities for disabled visitors. More emphasis will also be placed on the educational aspect of the museum. The refurbishment is to be accompanied by the arrival of new collections, including the helmet worn by the acclaimed American war hero General Matthew Ridgway. Some items will come from two other important WW2 museums: the Baugnez 44 Historical Centre in Malmedy and the Dead Man’s Corner Museum in France. Gillain said that as well as hopefully attracting many more visitors, the project would help safeguard the future of his museum. MB

Green light for two new museums The first stone has been laid for MULAC, a new museum of art and civilization in Louvain-la-Neuve. The university project replaces the university’s existing museum, and it plans to welcome its first visitor in spring 2014. Meanwhile, in Mons, the prestigious city of culture tag in 2015 has provided the incentive for a Van Gogh museum to be created in the derelict former home of the Dutch artist. Van Gogh lived in the village of Wasmes between 1878 and 1879. The museum will form one stage of a Van Gogh route between Rotterdam and Provence. An exhibition devoted to the artist Van Gogh au Borinage, la naissance d’un artiste at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Mons, is scheduled to run from February to May 2015 A-L dH

Too square?

 The Hard Rock Cafe is opening a branch in Brussels 6 - Spring 2012

An appeal has been launched to help regenerate the oldest square in Louvain-la-Neuve. The plaza, known locally as the Square of the Walloons, was the first to be created for the new university town in the early 1970s. While the university still dominates the town, Louvain-la-Neuve has rapidly grown in the intervening years and is now a booming community. However, town planners want to see improvements to the square and have created a forum to generate ideas. The initiative was launched by Jean-Christophe Echement, head of the Association Management Centre of Louvain-la-Neuve. He said that over the years the town’s public square had become dated and a place where people rarely stopped. “The overall aim is to encourage people to come forward with ideas as to how we might improve the square so that, as in the past, it becomes a place where people meet to chat, read and generally pass the time of day,” he said. A series of events, including an arts and crafts market and an exhibition, have helped promote the appeal. MB

Hard Rock Cafe opening in Brussels The American Hard Rock Cafe franchise is opening a new venue in Brussels’ Grand’Place this summer. A multi-level indoor and outdoor 150-seater restaurant, a bar, space for live gigs and a rock boutique will fill the 540m2 space in a 16th-century building next to the town hall. Expect classic American fare including burgers and cocktails. A-L dH

Taking off

Amos secures Hawaii telescope contract

Ryanair is offering four new destinations from Brussels South-Charleroi airport: two to the Greek islands of Corfu and Crete (Chania), one to the Bavarian town of Memmingen near Munich, and Rodez in south west France. New summer departures from Brussels Airport include Cork with Aer Lingus (three times a week), Fez in Turkey with Jetairfly (twice a week) and Larnaca five times a week with Cyprus Airways. Brussels Airlines has added weekly flights to Africa and has launched a daily service to New York. British Airways is now flying to London seven times a day.

Liège industrial optics company Amos has signed a €10 million contract to help build two telescopes on Hawaii. The telescopes will be sited on the summit of Mount Haleakala, the East Maui Volcano, a nature reserve popular with tourists and amateur astronomers. Haleakala Observatory is managed by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, and is an important site with excellent viewing conditions and very clear skies. The contract is expected to provide a year’s work for about 80 Amos employees. The first telescope, with a 4m diameter, will be used for solar observation. It was ordered by Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and is set for delivery at the end of 2014. Amos will build the 11-tonne support mechanism, which consists of 142 small levers to keep the telescope mirrors in position. The second, for which Amos will build the mechanical components, has been ordered by the University of Hawaii. It is smaller, with a 1.8m diameter, but will weigh 30 tonnes and be 6m high. It will be used to watch space debris and other objects near Earth, like comets and meteorites. It is due to be delivered at the end of this year and is part of the Pan-STARRS programme, which is expected to install four identical telescopes on Hawaii to study cosmic objects. The contracts are significant given the sensitivities surrounding the aerospace sector in the US, where national preferences usually prevail. But Amos, which has a subsidiary near Houston, Texas, is expected to use the contract to secure its foothold in the US market. “This will strengthen our position,” says Jean-Pierre Chisogne, Amos commercial director. “It is a really good sign that the Americans are coming to us because normally they don’t look for scientific material outside the US.” LC

Dementia light study A Walloon clinic has unveiled a pioneering scheme which, it is hoped, will help in the treatment of people with dementia. Under the scheme, different levels of lighting will be introduced throughout the Peri Clinic in Liège, with the idea being to test what impact this may have on the medical condition of its patients, some of whom suffer from dementia. High-tech lighting systems will be installed in rooms and bedrooms on the first floor of the clinic. About 100 patients at the clinic will participate in the experiment, while the same number will continue to be treated in parts of the building using the old lighting system. A source at the clinic said the objective was to assess what, if any, impact this may have on patients’ condition. He said, “Our lives are, to an extent, influenced by increases and reductions in light. The question we are asking is to what extent, if any, variable light may have on dementia patients.” The first phase of the experiment, partnered by electronics firm Philips, is expected to last up to a year. The scheme may result in energy savings. MB

 The Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii

 Jacques Borlée backed the bid to bring a sports complex to Louvain-laNeuve

news briefing

Photo news


A change in lighting at this Liège clinic could help patients with dementia

Spring 2012 - 7



In the tracks of the pioneers Liège’s Guillemins station is just the latest stop in the lasting journey of Wallonia railway design Andy Furniere

8 - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 - 9

file 



tepping out of the train in the futuristic station of Liège-Guillemins, a creation by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, you immediately get a good idea of Wallonia’s ambition to keep setting the pace of railway innovation. At the railway museum of Kinkempois, just outside the city, you learn all about the region’s pioneering past. Wallonia was one of the first regions in the world to jump on the bandwagon of the industrial revolution and of railway development. In the 19th century, backed by courageous entrepreneurs, pioneering Walloon engineers and workers left their tracks from China to Chile. It was a Liégeois, engineer Georges Nagelmackers, who led the way for passengers to travel in style from Paris to Istanbul on the iconic Orient Express. “The Walloon success story in railway technology starts with the Cockerill factory,” according to Ghislain Lallemand, chairman of the Kinkempois railway museum in Liège. British-born entrepreneur John Cockerill encountered fertile ground in Seraing, Liège, where he established an iron foundry, a machine factory and a coke-fired blast furnace in the first decades of the 19th century. To supply the factories with primary material, such as coal, and deliver the finished products to other parts of Belgium and the world, a British invention proved to be essential: the steam locomotive. After 1830, Cockerill delivered the rails and locomotives for the first railways of the independent Belgium and the European continent. In 1850, Cockerill’s factory in Seraing was one of the biggest in the world, exporting machines, ships, locomotives and railway material all over the globe. Other Walloon enterprises focusing on the booming railway sector benefited from the doors the Walloon steel industry giant opened abroad. From 1880 to 1910, Walloon enterprises brought modernity in the shape of tracks and locomotives to Russia, China and the rest of the world. Also in Liège, the Société Anonyme des Ateliers de Construction de la Meuse built steam locomotives and railway material for countries all over Europe and beyond. The Ateliers de Tubize, in the province of Walloon Brabant, laid the first Iranian railway lines. The Forges Usines et Fonderies Haine-Saint-Pierre in Hainaut province assembled the metal structures of the Mapocho railway station in the Chilean capital, Santiago. “The Walloon pioneers were full-hearted travellers,” says Lallemand. “They pooled all the knowledge from abroad to optimise the products for the railway sector. Then they crossed the borders again to export their cutting-edge technology.”

charge of the work on the 1,200km railway line from Hankou to Beijing, a feat he completed in eight years. Jadot subsequently returned to Africa to open up access to the Belgian colony in Congo. Inventor Etienne Lenoir, also born in Luxembourg province, is primarily famous for developing the first commercially successful internal combustion engine. But he was also responsible for ground-breaking work on train braking and signalling systems. Another internationally acclaimed engineer is Liégeois Edgard Frankignoul, the inventor of the Franki piles foundation system in 1909. The Franki piles support San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and the port of Amsterdam. “Engineers don’t always work on their own,” Lallemand points out. “In Egypt, for example, Jadot was in the service of the Empain Group of the industrialist Edouard Empain.” Empain, the son of a primary school teacher from Belœil, in Hainaut province, succeeded in building an empire in the construction of branch lines. Feeling that he was too dependent on the banks for his industrial plans, entrepreneur Empain established his own investment bank. The Banque Empain later became the Belgian Industrial Bank. His Empain group of companies expanded throughout the 1890s, building electric urban tramlines throughout Europe, such as pioneering work on the Paris metro. Alongside its activity in Egypt, the group was active in Russia, China and Congo. Wanting to be independent of electricity producers, Empain formed several electricity companies to power his projects. In 1904, he acquired the Ateliers de Constructions Electriques de Charleroi (ACEC), a manufacturer of electrical generation, transmission, transport, lighting, industrial and domestic equipment such as radio and television sets. ACEC was especially famous for its electric motors for trains and trams. “Liégeois Georges Nagelmackers is the man who elevated the train experience to another level of comfort,” explains Lallemand as he shows me a wall full of adverts for Nagelmackers’ express trains. Born into a family of bankers with interests in railways in 1845, Nagelmackers became a civil engineer. Because of an unhappy affair with his older cousin, his family sent him to the United States to put his life back on track. During his travels, he was inspired by the Pullman sleeper carriages. Back in Belgium, Nagelmackers founded the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits in 1876. The company gained fame with luxurious express trains such as the Orient Express (Paris to Istanbul) and the Train Bleu (Blue Train) between Calais and the French Riviera. Both trains feature in mystery novels by famed British author Agatha Christie, starring her Belgian detective hero Hercule Poirot. When the French high-speed TGV broke its own world rail speed in record in 2007 by reaching a speed of 574.8 kph, the employees of multinational Alstom’s centre of excellence in Charleroi had good reason to cheer proudly: they had provided

Alstom, based in Charleroi, manufactures electronic control systems

“George Nagelmackers the train experience to

another level of comfort”

Engineers and inventors One of the pioneers who stands out in history is Jean Jadot, from the province of Luxembourg. In 1894, Jadot led the construction of railways in Egypt and the tram lines of the capital, Cairo. Four years later, on the Asian continent, he was in 10 - Spring 2012

The Prefarail all-in-one Modulix system being put in place on a tram line in Brussels

is the man who elevated

Spring 2012 - 11


file the technology for the new electronic control system on board, as well as two auxiliary power converters, so their efforts were indispensable in making this feat possible. Since then, the centre has steadily increased its endeavours to supply state-ofthe-art railway innovations. Of all the enterprises integrated in Alstom, the international supplier of rail systems, ACEC – a manufacturer of electromechanical products such as motors, transformers and domestic equipment like radio and television sets – made the most important contribution. Talented engineer Julien Dulait was responsible in 1886 for ACEC’s foundation. After successfully generating electricity with a hydroelectric turbine, his companies played a decisive role in the electrification of Belgium, from electricity stations to street lighting. Dulait, more brilliant as an engineer than as a manager, accepted a takeover bid by industrialist Edouard Empain in 1904. ACEC evolved into the Belgian leader for, among other things, electric motors for trains and trams and signalisation systems. From the 1970s, the company found itself in rough

water because of the economic crisis and an erroneous business strategy. In 1988, Alstom took over the wheel and in 2007 the Charleroi establishment became the centre of excellence of the world leader in rolling stock, transport infrastructure and signalling, maintenance equipment and global rail systems. The multinational is also an influential player in the production and transport of electricity, alongside its activity in renewable energy. Of a total workforce of 1,330 employees at the Charleroi centre, 1,020 work on developing technology for all kinds of rolling stock, from trams to high-speed trains. Last year, €12 million was invested in research and development. Charleroi specialises in auxiliary power converters, units for the onboard power supply of rail vehicles. “They provide power for the whole train or tram, from the lighting to the heating and air conditioning to the operation of the doors,” explains Marcel Miller, chairman of Alstom Belgium and Agoria Wallonie, the federation for the technology industry. Around 90 percent of all auxiliary converters worldwide come from Alstom. Charleroi also houses the competence centre for the development of the European Train Control System (ETCS), the European standard system for signalling. ETCS continually controls the trains’ maximum authorised speed and guarantees interoperability throughout the European system, making it unnecessary to equip cross-border trains with different systems. “It ensures safety by triggering automatic braking when a train exceeds the authorised speed limit as it approaches signals requiring a stop, as well as automatic braking when such signals are crossed,” Miller explains. “Furthermore, it can coordinate all train activity so that the whole network of lines runs optimally. The system can save up to 20 percent of the energy employed.”

Walloon expertise goes global

 The 1930s speed machine that inspired comic-strip artist François Schuiten in La Douce (above): the Cockerill T12 locomotive at Seraing (right)

In all, 51 percent of all signalling systems around the globe are designed by Alstom. Countries all over Europe are interested, as are Australia and Indonesia, among others. “It’s the first time that a standard system has been available,” says Miller.

Although Alstom exports all over the world, Miller feels strongly about increasing know-how in the Walloon region, as part of the Marshall plan that aims to boost the Walloon economy in an integrated way. “We create an expertise network by cooperating with enterprises and universities in the region,” he explains. According to Miller, railway development worldwide will increase exponentially in the coming years. “The congestion on the roads, rising energy prices and growing eco-consciousness will convince ever more people to take the train and urban transport,” he believes. “For long distances, the high-speed train will become an ever more attractive alternative to the plane.” Alstom’s centre of excellence in Charleroi is just one of a network of enterprises ensuring the future of Wallonia as an abiding pioneer in railway innovations. The region of Liège has several leading enterprises in this transport sector. The CMI group (Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie) continues Cockerill’s tradition in Seraing by designing and building switchers or shunting locomotives, used to move trains around in railway yards. ArcelorMittal Ringmill, also a successor of Cockerill, produces standard tyres for trams and metros in Seraing. The tyres are principally exported to France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. International company Valdunes Belux in Seraing specialises in the construction of railway tyres, axles and wheel sets. “We sell to, among others, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Australia,” says managing director Michaël Bayet. A total of 60 people work at the firm. An innovative world leader in the sector of electronic and lighting technology for trains, trams and metros is KS

Techniques, in Battice, Liège. The company employs 45 people, 30 of whom are engineers. Around 95 percent of the company’s production is destined for export abroad, all over Europe but also to Canada and China. “We develop uniform technology adapted to railway equipment, while other companies often export lighting technology also used in buildings,” says sales manager Baudouin Van Steenberge. “Our lighting furthermore lasts longer and is easier to replace.” A new lighting product is PanLed with LED lighting, which is already implemented in the tramways of The Hague in the Netherlands. Prefarails in Soignies, Hainaut, is an internationally renowned developer of prefab rails, ready-made replacements for rails. These concrete modules or rail ‘jackets’ contain elements such as rails, slab and road paving and envelop the rail completely. “Our ‘prefarails’ ensure more security and diminish the noise,” explains managing director Joseph Rode. This international company with a team of 80 employees has signed contracts in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, Greece, Norway and the Dominican Republic, among other markets. For 40 years, Automatic Systems in Wavre, the capital of Walloon Brabant, has been one of the world leaders in the automatisation of secure entrance control in public transport. It manufactures a range of automatic access control gates that are able to integrate every kind of ticketing system. In 2008, the company won the Prix Wallonia for exports. Clearly, Wallonia is fully equipped to enter a new age of railway development. Wherever you are in the world, whenever you reach your destination after a pleasant train journey, it is and will remain in part thanks to the valuable knowhow of these Walloon pioneers.

 Cockerill’s shunting loco, used for moving trains around in railway yards

“For long distances,

the high-speed train will become an

ever more attractive

alternative to the plane”

12 - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 - 13



La Louvière reaching for the moon Métropôle Culture 2012 is the ambitious artistic project that is revitalising the community Sarah Crew

population is the reason for its cosmopolitan mix and Mediterranean ambience. A reputation for welcoming newcomers is explained by the fact that its residents are all second- or thirdgeneration immigrants. A Flemish quarter remains, the result t is no paradox that the impoverished former manufacof a large influx of workers from Flanders who moved south in turing town of La Louvière is painting the town red for its search of work in the coal and steel industries. year of culture. Since the founding of the urban enclave at The identity of La Louvière is intrinsically linked the height of the industrial revolution, it has proudly posto its worker and artistic origins, according to Vinsessed an artistic tradition that is at the centre of the present cent Dierickx, director of communication at the Centre transformation. And the culture tag, allocated every two years culturel régional du Centre, which is one of the key organisers of 2012 Métropole Culture. One of the first major exhibitions in Wallonia, is thrusting art and heritage into the spotlight. Look beyond the roadworks currently dominating La Louof Surrealist art was staged in the town in 1935. As a movevière’s landscape. Despite hard times and high unemployment founded on revolt, it had a natural breeding ground in ment, the town is determined to raise its profile with an ambithe working-class town that has always loved to protest. “This Métropôle tious programme of urban regeneration. One of the many is a rebel town,” says Dierickx. “Since the 1950s there has been Culture 2012 a strong artistic exchange, including poetry, that has grown environmental activities under way is at the former Boch upcoming porcelain factory. The town-centre site is focused on blending alongside the protest movement.” A number of key individuhighlights industrial heritage with contemporary architecture, with the als were behind this artistic movement, from André Balthazar, 16-hectare plot destined for residential and who co-founded the Daily-Bul publish• Until Sept 30 commercial use as well as a museum that ing house with Pol Bury, who was also a Exhibition: HisThe identity of La will provide a ‘living memory’ of the porcetory of navigable member of the CoBrA group and the leadroutes in Hainaut lain industry via the participation of former ing 3D and geometric sculptor of the 20th Louvière is intrinsically century. workers. • Until August 26 Completed projects include a high-tech For Dierickx, a further outstanding charExhibitions: linked to its worker acteristic of the town is its community life. Promenons-nous fire station and the Point d’Eau aquatic “There are about 100 clubs and associations centre. Other notable sights are contemdans le bois? La and artistic origins here. When people are poor, they have to Musée qui cache porary sculptures, including two by La group together for everything: sport, music, la fôret Louvière’s most famous artist, Pol Bury. Another eye-catcher is the town’s wolf emblem on Place de la culture. These are part of the fabric of community life; people Louve. It originates from the name of a farm on land on which continue to place their children in these groups.” The sense La Louvière now stands. Local legend says it refers to the packs of community is epitomised by La Louvière’s carnival, which rivals nearby Binche in its popularity. of wolves that used to roam many parts of Europe. But the history of the town is relatively recent. The presThis network of clubs and associations has been integral to tigious Royal Boch factory was one of the first industries to the two-year organisation of Métropôle Culture. “It provides ideas and is a way of communicating with the local area,” said arrive in the Hainaut commune of Saint-Vaast. Construction of roads, canals and railways enabled the local rich coal seams Dierickx. One of the conditions for being awarded the culture to be exploited, which led to investment in heavy industry. title is the involvement of the local population, renamed ‘Metropolitans’. “Our job is to make contact with a professional With the creation of a purpose-built town, La Louvière was soon one of the most important cities in the region. artist, put him in contact with a local group and provide a conToday it is the fifth largest town in Wallonia, 50km text within the goals of the Métropôle. One excellent example south of Brussels. But as a previously sleepy rural area, is the international street art exhibition Vues sur murs.” its prospering factories and coal mines were in desThe year-long programme consists of nine themes, ranging perate need of a larger workforce, leading from art forms to children to industrial heritage sites such as to numerous international appeals the Canal du Centre. In addition there are a number of key for immigrants. The resultevents, including La Louvière-born Franco Dragone’s worlding multicultural renowned urban and popular opera Décrocher la lune in September (see page 22 for a report on his latest exploits in Asia). La Louvière’s rebranding as a tourist and cultural destination is a logical step, says Dierickx, as the surrounding green countryside has many hidden gems, including fine stately homes, waterways and engineering feats such as the famous Strépy locks and other heritage sites that provide family entertainment. “La Louvière is an interesting town that has a strong identity and sense of self-deprecation. The Metropole is here to boost the local culture and economy. It enables us to stage quality events that make it easier to ‘sell’ the town and the area.”


14 - Spring 2012

A view of La Louvière’s Place Communale

Tourist and culture sites in and around La Louvière Centre of Engraving and the

Centre Daily-Bul & Co

Ianchelevici Museum

Canal du Centre

Printed Image

Publishing house, literary think-

The town’s former law courts

Famous for its locks, including

The town’s flagship museum

tank, archive centre and exhibi-

are the setting for this museum

Strépy-Thieu, a Unesco site that

dedicated to contemporary

tion house, founded by Pol Bury

devoted to the work of the

is one of the most impressive

prints and graphic art, converted

and André Balthazar in 1957

Russian-born Romanian and

hydraulic engineering works in

Belgian sculptor (1909-1994).

the world

from a former swimming pool by the French-speaking commu-


His monumental, elongated

nity. Temporary and permanent

Ecomuseum just outside the

and essentially humanist works

exhibitions centred on important

town is an industrial heritage

are largely made of marble and

permanent collection of 11,000

mining site showing working


works by more than 1,300 artists

and living conditions during the

from Belgium and abroad

Industrial Revolution Spring 2012 - 15



A shrine to the digital age


t’s Europe’s largest photography museum and an international reference in the digital domain. This year, Charleroi Photo Museum is celebrating its 25th birthday with themed visits, workshops and activities for all ages and, of course, exhibitions on a scale that has established its impressive educational and artistic reputation. The former Carmelite monastery in Mont-sur-Marchienne is a deceptively spacious building thanks to the addition in 2008 of a contemporary wing. Integrated on to the facade of the red-brick convent, its ondulating aluminium panels create a starkly contrasted ensemble. The play on shape, light and colour are perfect partners for the combined 2,500 square metres of interior space that enables three shows to run simultaneously with a rhythm of nine exhibitions a year. Equally incongruous is the museum’s location in the heart of a village in the urban sprawl of the Hainaut capital. With just a small part of the cloister visible from the street, the shrine to digital imagery is full of surprises: from the soaring ceilings of the convent, to the snapshots of suburban streets and local school through the windows of the modern building, and finally the contemporary green and glass spaces set within the sanctuary walls. 16 - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 - 17

tourism corbis


Artisan tours

Besieged by all the major European powers, Namur’s citadel is now the target of legions of tourists Sarah Crew

 View of Namur’s citadel from the River Meuse

18 - Spring 2012


amur’s historic citadel stands majestically above the confluence of the Rivers Meuse and Sambre, a living reminder of the city’s former strategic position in war-ravaged Europe. As one of the largest defensive fortresses on the continent, it has survived successive battles and bombardment. Once a bustling medieval city castle, the citadel remains a hive of activity as a major tourist and cultural beacon. Spread over an 80-hectare site that rises along the greenwooded ridge dividing the Mosane and Sambre valleys, the citadel dominates the city. Once extending even deeper into the hilly area, it stands in testament to 2,000 years of rich history. Remains from the Gallo-Roman period include first-century vases. Archaeological investigations have also unearthed third- and fourth-century remains of a port on the Grognon, the jutting piece of land at the tip of the confluence. The first defensive construction dates from before 890. Between the 10th century and 1429, a total of 23 counts successively controlled the city and its fortress, before it was sold

to the influential and extravagant Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good. Afterwards, it entered its most turbulent period as part of the Habsburg empire and then under the patronage of Don Juan, Louis XIV, Vauban, Allied Forces and the French, until Belgian revolution in 1830. At end of the 19th century it was transformed into a pleasure park with recreation areas including the Théâtre de Verdure. Renovation continued but it was not until 1975 that the Ministry of Defence finally handed over the keys to the city of Namur. Progressively the citadel has become a centre for a wide spectrum of activities. Medieval re-enactments, period theatre, guided tours, torchlight walks and live rock, bluegrass and Celtic music have all found a home within its ancient walls. The recently added multilingual panels delivering a historic perspective are a welcome addition. A cafeteria, restaurant Le Volet Gris and the gastronomic restaurant and hotel Le Château de Namur provide further excuse to linger, while the Esplanade is a panoramic plateau for circus big tops that attracts itinerant fairs and keen joggers.


Delforge Perfumerie In the former officers’ mess on the winding Route de Merveilleux, Guy Delforge has created a veritable Aladdin’s cave dedicated to the sensory world of perfume. An exhibition reveals the art of perfume-making accompanied by sculpture and paintings by local artists, while guided tours descend into the underground perfume laboratory, a former 16th-century military pillbox.

Citadel sites, from top: tourist train; underground passage; GraféLecocq wine cellar

Grafé-Lecocq wine merchant This Namur-based wine company has been buying, ageing and selling French wine since 1879, the only trader of its kind in Belgium. The wine is bought in France, ripened in oak barrels in two of the underground tunnels at the citadel and then matured in extensive cellars that run from a grand townhouse in Place Saint-Aubain stretching under the neighbouring cathedral. It organises many activities, including guided tours of both sites. La Moutarderie Bister (Jambes) The mustard factory lying across the river in the commune of Jambes is a family firm established in 1926. Managing the company is Fabienne Bister, who is shaking up the condiment industry by commercialising artisan and family recipes in the company’s famous grenade-shaped jars as well as acquiring the l’Etoile brand. Guided tours of the factory site include a mustard workshop and samplings of the many varieties. Musée de la fraise (Wépion) The month of May marks the start of the strawberry season in the region as the Wépion strawberry, the jewel of the country’s berries, goes on sale in shops, markets and wooden cabins along the River Meuse. Punnets can also be bought at the Strawberry Museum, which celebrates the local horticultural business, from its origins and 130-year history to its continuing prosperity. It features objects and art and a shop stocked with liqueurs, syrups, jam and gifts. Every first Sunday of the month a visit to the museum is combined with a guided walk taking in Mosane villas and local fauna. Sunday is also the occasion to catch the local strawberry market, the Criée de Wépion.

ftpn: bossiroy

A living museum

ftpn: bossiroy

Terra Nova, the former military barracks, is now a visitor centre and event venue. All details of guided tours are available here, as are a shop and cafeteria. The €9 Pass formula is a good way to discover the site. It includes a tourist train, film, guided visit and tour of the tunnels. A special bus, the Citad’In, links the city centre with the citadel. One of the more unusual circuits is a visit of a 7km labyrinth of tunnels and passages. Dropping below ground offers a privileged inside view of the bowels of the citadel. The galleries date from the 15th century, but have been continually modified by successive occupants including the Belgian army in World War Two. Dank and damp but well-preserved, they provide a fascinating memorial to the successive battles for the fortress. Tourisme et Tradition specialises in group tours of regional gastronomic and artisanal small businesses. Tastings and workshops provide an insight into the fabrication and cultivation of local products including saffron, flour, honey, beer, wine, mustard, chocolate, coffee and perfume.

Citadel activities

June 30

July 14 & 15

August 3-26

Verdur Rock

Bataille des

Sound and light

Canaris folklore


July & August

re-enactment August 31-

Exhibition ‘Namur et son Grognon’ July 1, August 5,

July 7-21

September 2

Theatre: Don Juan

Picnic Festival:

by Molière

Bluegrass and

September 2

Celtic music

Culinary walking

July 22


Children’s theatre ‘Post Scriptum’

July 2 Tour de France

Spring 2012 - 19



Let there be water A Walloon water treatment company is turning around the fortunes of people across the world Emma Portier-Davis


n South Africa’s Bloemfontein region, children in rural areas have little, if any, access to clean, safe drinking water. The region’s capital, known as the City of Roses, suggests lush, fertile land, but outside the suburbs, the terrain is dominated by dry grassland. Families must walk miles every day to source water and even then they risk potentially fatal disease. It’s a situation repeated across the continent and the developing world. More than 4.5 million children die each year due to poor water quality and half of the beds in developing countries’ hospitals are occupied by patients with water-borne diseases. About 40 billion hours are spent on simply collecting water in sub-Saharan Africa; the equivalent of a year’s labour for the workforce of France. Aside from the obvious humanitarian obligation to improve the lives of vulnerable citizens, there is the obvious, if less publicised, economic benefit: a dollar invested in providing clean Established: 2009 water can lead to 34 times Headquarters: Waterloo higher return in economic Workshop: Bilstain, near growth as fewer workers get Verviers sick and less time is wasted Product: Six types of water treatment units traipsing to the nearest well. Thousands of miles from Bloemfontein in Waterloo, water treatment company Sotrad Water has been developing systems to make life easier and safer for these citizens. Now, 50 schools in the region of Bloemfontein have installed its water pump, as have a mining base camp in Niger, the remote village of Lovisa Kope in Togo and a Congo poultry farm to name but a few.

The facts

We have to do something’ A band of entrepreneurs who had spent many years working in sub-Saharan Africa were already operating the trading company Sotrad, which specialised in IT, healthcare and furniture. They knew from experience that water treatment plants were not affordable for small cities and rural populations. “We said we have to do something,” says finance 20 - Spring 2012

director Georges Hanin. Sotrad Water was born in 2009 and, partnered with the University of Liège’s cholera research unit, developed units which, rather than treating water with chemicals, pumps the water through a fine membrane, ridding it of the microbes that cause devastating diseases such as cholera. The systems are effective, easy to use and require few spare parts. Water treated by this process of ultra-filtration, which removes and separates particles of 0.01 micrograms, also conforms to World Health Organisation norms for drinking water and, in the case of aerobic germs, exceeds them. There is nothing new about the technology. “It’s just the fact that it’s safe and on a size that is affordable for these small villages,” says Hanin. But using a filter rather than chemicals is a key advantage. “For rural populations, it’s a problem to need chemicals, Sometimes they have the money for them; sometimes not.” The system, known as Pump & Drink, is not free, with the solar-powered version costing up to €15,000. But, according to Hanin, although this is a lot of money for, say, a small village, buyers of Sotrad’s systems will benefit in the long run. “They spend a lot of money on chemicals and on medicines for the diseases from the water.” While Sotrad’s directors are motivated by the humanitarian need, they have spotted a clear business opportunity. “What we have done is to put a value on the water. There is a business model behind this machine.”

International recognition Partnerships with international organisations such as Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontières are already proof of Sotrad’s global recognition. Now, the company is set to gain publicity thanks to its invitation to participate in the World Water Forum earlier this year in Marseille where its Pump & Drink Solar, powered by the plentiful African sun, was eligible for a prize. “We are, of course, proud to have been selected,” says Hanin. Back in Waterloo, the company, which is in its third year of operation, is working on how it can reduce the price of Pump & Drink and also show financial institutions the benefit of offering project finance to organisations to provide access to yet more of the world’s water-poor citizens. “We do hope that the competition for the prize will force us to continue with our research and development to make sure we can reduce the price,” says Hanin. “It is not only enough to be among the best; we must make it affordable.”

To infinity and beyond! Liege is playing an important role in the voyage from Earth to the stars Leo Cendrowicz


iège is a long way from Cape Canaveral, the launch site of so many American space missions. It’s even further from Kourou in French Guiana, where most of Europe’s Ariane missions take off from. But as home to Spacebel, which provides crucial software for satellites, Liège is fast earning a reputation for its rocket programming technology, making it a regular port of call for the space industry. Spacebel is currently celebrating a series of vital software engineering contracts, most notably for Pléiades, the French high-resolution Earth-imaging satellites. Last November, at the Kourou space centre, a Russian-built Soyuz rocket lifted the first satellite in the Pléiades constellation into space, where it was carefully parked in orbit around the Earth. It is the first of two next-generation optical-imaging satellites with both civil and military applications, scrutinising our planet to gather images useful for agriculture, territory planning, natural disaster management and much more. From the moment Pléiades blasted off until a few days later when the first images were sent down to Earth, Spacebel was watching the events nervously from its headquarters in Liège Science Park. “Usually, in our business, after days or weeks of operation, we are called to fix a software glitch, but not this time,” says Michel Gruslin, Spacebel’s marketing and sales manager. “It works perfectly. The French space agency, CNES, is already showing its images on its website.” Spacebel helped design the software for the Pléiades mission centre in Toulouse, which centralises all requests for image acquisition, receives and processes the on-board instrument data and sends these out to the scientific world. It isjust one of the tasks the Liège company has undertaken for Pléiades since signing on to the €760 million project in 2004, which includes designing the satellite’s flight software to get the satellite into position, and keep it there. Gruslin points out that Spacebel has a long-standing relationship with CNES, and has been involved in projects like the Helios military observation satellites used by France, Belgium and Spain. “We are well-known in Europe for developing critical and reliable mission software,” he says. “With the amount of money and risk involved, they prefer to work with companies with experience.” Spacebel’s origins go back four decades to when the University of Liège had a department of astrophysics, and when TechSpaceAero, also based in Liège, worked on the Ariane 1 rocket. It was from this small but dedicated cluster of engineers that Spacebel was formed in 1988 as spinoff from the now-defunct Matra Marconi Space, which was looking for industrial partners in European Space Agency countries. It is still relatively small: just 65 people work for Spacebel (50 in Belgium and 15 in Toulouse, where the Ariane headquarters are). Some 45

percent of the staff have master’s degrees in engineering and 30 percent in computer science. Its turnover was €8 million in 2011, just a scrap of the global satellite market. Spacebel is also involved in telecoms, navigation, exploration, launchers, balloons and space situational awareness. It specialises in onboard control and data handling software, simulation, control and mission centres. Gruslin points out that while 95 percent of the company’s turnover is from space clients, there are also commercial clients in the use of Earth observation data, and other domains. A quarter of business is in onboard satellite hardware, while 40 percent of sales are from simulator work. So far, Spacebel has been involved in more than 30 space missions. Others include the Ariane 5 rocket, the Columbus laboratory that is part of the International Space Station, and CNES’s proposed Hermes space plane. It has taken part in the SPOT and PROBA optical imaging satellite system, the Artemis telecommunications satellites, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory launched in 1995 to study the Sun and comets, and the Swedish-designed Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology-1 moon orbiter. On this planet, Spacebel has delivered software for the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Last August, Spacebel beat larger French and British competition to provide Vietnam with a 100kg Earth observation satellite to carry an optical imager. Scheduled for launch in 2016, the satellite will enable Vietnam to autonomously monitor its natural resources. It is just one of the many space software projects in the pipeline, ensuring Spacebel – and Liège – is playing a small yet vital role in reaching out to the cosmos.

Spacebel is Belgium’s satellite specialist

“We are well-known in Europe for developing critical and reliable mission software” Spring 2012 - 21



Making a splash From La Louvière to Macao: world-famous showman Franco Dragone is a visionary and avant-garde artist Anna Jenkinson


 Franco Dragone, creator of the spectacular House of Dancing Water (pictured far right)

22 - Spring 2012

ranco Dragone is a man who knows how to put on a show. Since graduating from Mons’ Royal Conservatory, the Italian-Belgian director has worked in theatre and circus and was the creative force behind more than a decade of Cirque du Soleil productions. Since 2000 he has created imaginative and innovative spectacles for his own company, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group, including a show in Las Vegas with Céline Dion. It is this artistic record that prompted businessman Lawrence Ho to approach Dragone with a proposal to create a new show for his City of Dreams complex in Macao. Ho’s resort is made up of casinos, boutiques and luxury hotels; to that he wanted to add a spectacular show for his visitors, most of whom are wealthy Chinese. After five years of development, two years of rehearsals and a US$250 million investment, The House of Dancing Water was created. In a purposebuilt theatre, gymnasts, highdivers, dancers and acrobats from around the world perform together in a show that pushes both artistic and technical boundaries. Dragone, whose company is based in the Walloon town of La Louvière, recalls Ho telling him to “go big or go home”. So Dragone went big – very big. The stage, for example, is no ordinary stage: it incorporates a swimming pool, diving boards more than 25 metres high, winches that can travel at up to eight metres a second, lifts that can move up to 65 tonnes and a system of hydraulic hoses, pipes and electric pumps usually used by aircraft carriers to launch jet fighters. You don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If a dancer steps on the base of a fountain or a diver fails to swim to the side quickly enough, it could literally be fatal. Linking all the elements of the extravaganza – the acrobatics, the dance, the theatre – is a narrative, a love story

set in a magical kingdom. The technology is important, but Dragone is keen to emphasise that it is there for creative ends. “The technology is there to serve the poetry. When the poetry isn’t there, I get mad,” Dragone says in an interview on his website. The House of Dancing Water, Dragone’s first foray on to Chinese soil, has attracted more than a million spectators since it opened in Macao in September 2010. The experience seems to have whetted Dragone’s appetite for more, as he has also signed a contract for five new creations in different cities in mainland China, each to run for 10 years, the same duration as the Macao contract. The first of these will be in Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people in eastern China where industrial and economic development is happening apace, creating a large potential audience of business people. Dragone plans to push the boundaries even further than in Macao, explains Sophie Adam, spokesperson for Franco Dragone Entertainment Group. Once again, a purpose-built theatre will be built, incorporating a swimming pool, but this time the audience’s seats will also move. “You don’t just watch a show, you live through a show,” Adam explains. The title of the Wuhan show has not yet been revealed, but it will have an aquatic theme and be a story inspired by local culture, a narrative that links East and West, she says. The opening performance is planned for the end of 2014.

Creative flow The future Chinese shows, like the current Macao one, are in situ performances designed specifically for that venue and cannot be transferred to another location. Despite this growing eastern presence, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group retains its headquarters in La Louvière and it is from there that the creative ideas flow. In the illustrations department, for example, hand-made and computer-designed drawings give life to the ideas in Dragone’s imagination and allow the artistic concepts to be visualised. “These illustrations summarise all the information necessary for the construction of the show,” the company explains on its website. La Louvière is also home to the casting department, a technical department and a costume workshop.

“The technology is there to serve the poetry.

When the poetry isn’t there, I get mad”

The outfits for the Macao show were made in La Louvière by costume makers who had first attended rehearsals in Belgium to assess what was needed in terms of material and style: after all, some costumes must go into water, while others must fly. Each costume is made to measure and involves hours of research and creativity. A team of costume-makers also flew out to Macao to spend a period in the theatre there so they could change details and adapt costumes where needed. And while the current emphasis is very much on the Macao and mainland Chinese projects, other performances are still happening: for example, a new edition of the urban opera Décrocher la lune in La Louvière, Cultural City in 2012. So if you can’t make it to Macao, there is an alternative a little closer to home.

The House of Dancing Water • The show is staged in

• The set includes electric

• Divers jump from boards

a purpose-built theatre

pumps usually used by

as high as 60 metres

designed by architect

aircraft carriers to launch

• The show features on a

Sandi Pei

jet fighters

Belgian postage stamp

• It’s a US$250 million

• A team of professional

(part of a series dedicated


scuba divers are on hand

to Franco Dragone’s

• More than 1 million

to ensure performers’


people have seen the


• To see a clip of the

show to date

• The artists spent six

production, visit http://tiny

• The cast comprises some

months in Macao for

80 people of about 25

rehearsals before the show



opened Spring 2012 - 23



Queen of beading Designer Olivia Hainaut plays by her own rules Stephanie Duval


The hot desks Reversible Matabla tables score highly for their good looks and their environmental conscience Stephanie Duval


“In haute couture you generally have more means to create and you can go further in your creativity”

want to combine with a perfectly matched accessory. We talk about colours, materials and budget, and I create something especially for them.” As for her own collection, Hainaut’s style is instantly recognisable thanks to its rock’n’roll approach. She pleats and perforates leather, applies metallic finishes and bejewels her chosen materials with semiprecious stones. Her pieces are elegant and refined, but not in a typical way. Inspired by “women and femininity, even if it is just a woman passing by in the street, or a small detail in her outfit”, Hainaut’s accessories are designed to be worn by strong personalities.

24 - Spring 2012

ric Bricman’s career is a long winding road, touching different areas within the universe of design. After he graduated from the Institut Supérieur The Matabla d’Architecture Saint-Luc in Brussels he worked as represents a designer, developer, manager and marketing specialist. Eric Bricman’s “When I entered the marketplace, design was nowhere near signature style as progressive as it is now,” he explains. “I’ve always tried to make a difference.” Inspired by high-tech innovations and industrial elements, for years Bricman has been fascinated by how they can be translated to design for daily and personal use. Bricman’s experience culminates in his latest project: the environmentally conscious, customisable table Matabla, made at the company’s Wavre factory. “After all those years working in design, I felt ready to do something on my own,” he says. “Today’s world is ever-changing, and the environment plays a big part in that. I wanted to explore how I could formulate an answer to this challenge, inspired by my own story.” As an interior designer, Bricman has designed many offices and shops, so it felt natural to direct his attention to this area. “We’ve fitted many headquarters with Matabla tables,” he explains. The fact that its design can be adapted to reflect the values and style of a company makes the table an interesting choice: “We delivered Matabla tables to a railroad company, so

we engraved the table tops with copper lines. And for interior design company Marie’s Corner, we finished the tables with oak and leather, representing the firm’s signature style.” According to the designer, the narrative of a design is as important as any other of its characteristics. If so, Matabla doesn’t score well only because of its customisable form. The table design is also interesting from an environmental point of view: “You don’t need any screws for its construction, so you don’t need electricity either,” enthuses Bricman. “You simply need a rubber hammer to put the pieces together.” Aside from its intelligent design, the table is eco-conscious thanks to a reversible table top – which prolongs its lifespan – a frame made from recyclable steel, the use of solvent-free varnishes, inks and lacquers, and a UV drying process. All materials are furthermore sourced within Europe, thus cutting back on CO2 emissions. Matabla also took a cue from Swedish retail giant IKEA, opting for ultra flat packaging for efficient transportation. When asked what drives him on a daily basis, Bricman notes: “I know my qualities, but I also know what I can’t do yet. I always try to go further. Each day, there are more solutions than the day before.” He adheres to this motto not only in his design process, but in his take on his career, too: “I go from having an idea, putting it to paper, developing it into a product, imagining a marketing campaign… I take it step by step, and I hope to be able to continue like this for a long time.”

hen Olivia Hainaut enrolled in Fashion Design at La Cambre School of Visual Arts in her home town of Brussels, she soon understood she was not about to become a typical fashion designer. Sewing beads and feathers on to everything she could get her hands on, it became clear her heart was in haute couture. “I always loved luxury products,” she explains. “I appreciate the artisan aspect of couture, and the idea of creating unique pieces. In haute couture, you generally have more means to create and you can go further in your creativity.” When she graduated in 1993, Hainaut began her career freelance designing for Olivier Strelli and Walter Lecompte. Working mostly with leather and fur, she developed a fondness for these materials that is still noticeable in her designs today. In 2000, Belgian luxury couture house Natan hired Hainaut to create its jewellery and to embroider and bead unique pieces for its haute couture collection. Meanwhile, she launched her own, eponymous label to be able to fully express her creativity. Her vision struck a nerve right from the start, as her first collection – which she presented at trade fair Première Classe in Paris – was immediately picked up by retailers from Tokyo to New York. Eight years later, the designer was ready to open her own boutique in Brussels, where she still welcomes clients herself. Also functioning as her office, atelier and showroom, it is the hub where Hainaut’s creative process takes place from start to finish. But before long, she decided to stop working with other labels and fully concentrate on creating her own universe. In doing that, Hainaut does not like to play by any rules. It would be a mistake to call what she does ‘fashion’. “What is important are the colours, the materials and my own personal style,” she says. “All of that comes before the system: things like trends or seasons. Of course I take them into account, but my accessories are meant to be worn for a long time, and throughout the seasons.” Hainaut often creates pieces on demand, or she transforms existing pieces of clothing to the demands of private customers. “They bring clothes that they want me to embroider with beading or feathers, or they bring an outfit they

Spring 2012 - 25



Coke adds life D

rinks giant Coca-Cola has injected some fizz into Wallonia by opening a distribution centre that has already won plaudits for the way it minimises its impact on the environment. The new plant, the company’s seventh site in Belgium and the second in Wallonia, is in Heppignies, near Charleroi, and opened in February. It was designed with the twin challenges in mind of ensuring employee comfort and guaranteeing environmental friendliness. It appears to have succeeded. No sooner had the building opened than it became the first distribution centre in Belgium, Luxembourg or the Netherlands to win the Démarche Haute Qualité Environnementale certificate – an award that recognises high environmental standards. The award not only takes into account how the building is designed, but also how it is used in practice every day.

Pride of place

Energy targets As for the building itself, there are the everyday things that make it a little kinder on the environment than your average distribution plant. First, there are the tough energy targets: the building is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 73 tons per year, notably thanks to the use of renewable energy production through photovoltaic and thermal panels and systems to reduce artificial lighting. Second, water use will be reduced – the company says by 80 percent – by reducing the consumption of drinking water and by implementing a strict waste-water management operation. Third, the distribution centre has a strict policy of sorting 100 percent of its waste to maximise recycling. Jo De Wolf, CEO of Montea, said the company had deliberately chosen to develop a “bespoke” building so that it would meet the “rigorous standards of sustainability”. The distribution centre is spread over an area of 10,000 square metres and is large enough to store 4,000 pallets. It employs more than 80 staff and 55 lorries operate out of the centre, delivering to 220 customers each day.

As for the building, there are the everyday things that make it kinder on the environment than your average distribution centre

Coca-Cola, which has been selling drinks in Belgium for 85 years, is suitably proud of the new building. A company spokeswoman said the opening of the distribution centre confirmed how important it considered its presence in Wallonia and Belgium as a whole. “The success of Coca-Cola Enterprises in Belgium results in a strong local presence,” added Jean-Luc Collard, manager of the distribution centre. This, he said, was demonstrated by the “major investment” in the Heppignies site. The building represents an investment of about €9 million. The plant was developed by the Belgian property investment company Montea and architects Atelier and was inaugurated in February with the help of Wallonia’s economy minister, Jean-Claude Marcourt. 26 - Spring 2012

Coca-Cola Enterprises Belgium said the environmental impact of the centre had been considered throughout the period of construction – and that this had continued now that people had started working there. “When designing the distribution centre, we have ensured that the building respects its immediate environment,” Coca-Cola Enterprises Belgium said in a statement. “To achieve this, local contractors were employed to construct the building while the designers made sure it would not be an eyesore.” The idea is for the building to “integrate harmoniously” into the landscape. When deciding where to locate new buildings such as this, proximity to main roads is a priority. Coca-Cola said the new site’s location near a highway was chosen to avoid lorries having to drive through residential areas. The nearness of the road network also means CocaCola can easily deliver its product within its target 80km radius, in the provinces of Hainaut, Namur and Walloon Brabant.

History Coca-Cola has been present in Wallonia since 1988, when it opened a distribution centre in Gosselies. Its move to Heppignies was part of the company’s desire to improve its environmental sustainability and improve conditions for staff. The relocation is also part of Coca-Cola’s global plan for the company to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent by 2020 and to reduce by a quarter the amount of materials it uses in its packaging. The centre in Heppignies complements Coca-Cola Enter prises Belgium’s ot her Walloon site, a water bottling plant in Chaudfontaine, which employs about 200 people.

New distribution centre in Wallonia wins award for putting the environment first Ed Morrison

Left: Heppignies managing director Jean-Luc Collard at the opening of the distribution centre (pictured above)

• Since its creation on May 8,

• To ensure customers can get

1886, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the

their hands on a bottle when

United States, Coca-Cola has

they want one, the company

conquered the world. It would

distributes to 85,904 sales points

take another 41 years before the

across the two countries and

company sold its first drink in Bel-

employs about 2,800 people of

gium – just over a decade after

27 nationalities.

Coca-Cola unveiled its famous

• The company invested €58 mil-

and unique contour bottle

lion in Belgium and Luxembourg

inspired by the shape of a cocoa

in 2010 and, apart from its new

bean – but since then its popular-

site in Heppignies, has bases in

ity has gone from strength to

Chaudfontaine, Luxembourg and



• In 1980, Coca-Cola Light was

• Coca-Cola’s Belgium and

launched in Belgium, capturing

Luxembourg division produces

a whole new market, and since

17 drink brands – and many of

then more and more drink brands

those are broken down into differ-

have been introduced to cater

ent tastes and varieties, including

for every taste. According to the

low-calorie ranges: Cherry Coke,

company, Belgians get through

Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light,

up to 10 million of its drinks every

Fanta, Nordic Mist, Sprite, Capri

day. People in Belgium and Lux-

Sun, Aquarius, Nestea, Minute

embourg drank 5.1 billion litres of

Maid, Chaudfontaine, Rosport,

non-alcoholic drinks in 2010, of

Viva, glacéau vitaminwater, Burn,

which 17.8 percent were made by

Nalu and Monster.

Coca-Cola. Spring 2012 - 27


g astronomy

The flavours of Wallonia Brussels

3 Walloon Brabant

8 Liège





1 7

62 Luxembourg

An appetising gourmet tourist trail celebrates the region’s culinary heritage Sarah Crew To taste the culinary delights of Wallonia is to experience the region’s charm and history. Game-filled forests, deep-gorged rivers and swathes of cultivated fields give rise to a bountiful harvest of natural produce. An artisan industry has thrived for centuries, thanks to cosmopolitan influences and a love of the good life. Food in southern Belgium has really established itself as a major tourist attraction. To mark this interest, the Brussels Wallonia tourist office has organised a banquet of activities over a two-year period to showcase its traditional dishes and ingredients. It features tours and trails around all corners of the region, plus fairs, walks, exhibitions and family days out. Here, in the first of a series of features on the best of the region’s produce, WAB looks at some of the local, popular and traditional sweets to be found in the region and profiles some of the passionate individuals behind them.

1. Macaroons Jean-Philippe Darcis Verviers, Liège province

3. Waffles Brussels vs Liège Brussels region and Liège province

Award-winning chocolate-maker Darcis is not content with boutiques in Brussels, Wallonia, Singapore and Tokyo, and an online concept, Chocol@, that delivers personalised pralines. The entrepreneur is also stirring up the fashionable world of macaroons. Although developed in France, the sweet groundalmond treats that date back to the Middle Ages are a familiar sight in the windows of fine patisseries. Darcis has tweaked the original recipe to produce a crisp outside shell contrasting with a smooth unctuous filling. Typically acid-coloured, Darcis’ creations feature 18 flavours, from champagne and Javanese chocolate to salted butter caramel. The subtle hues and intense flavours are wowing sweet-toothed customers at home and abroad and are also inspiring the home cook, thanks to his first collection of recipes, Les secrets sucrés (Racine).

It’s the war of the waffles. The capital’s streets, home to the rectangular light and airy Brussels waffle, are slowly being converted to the charms of its Liège counterpart. The latter is recognisable by its sugar-encrusted irregular shape and its burnt sugar and vanilla aroma. Although occasionally served with a dark chocolate coating, it is habitually devoured warm, fresh off the hot griddle. One explanation for its increasing street dominance is that the batter can be frozen ahead of cooking. The Brussels waffle, on the other hand, needs to be freshly baked, and its lightness arises from beaten egg whites. Traditionally served cold, its perfectly rectangular 15-hole form lends itself to being dusted with icing sugar or slathered in whipped cream, chocolate, fruit, syrup or ice-cream.

4. Speculoos and Cougnole Hainaut province

2. Biscuits Stephen Destrée Dinant, Namur province Inspired by the new wave of contemporary chocolate-makers, 27-year-old Destrée was determined to give Belgian biscuits a facelift. “I was sure my passion could transform biscuits into a finer product that could rival chocolate,” he explains. By adapting recipes from world-reputed chefs and focusing on the quality of materials, he has established a winning formula that “combines local savoir-faire and artisanship with new trends and technology”. Originally from Yvoir, where he worked from his parents’ home, Destrée now operates from an atelier near Dinant. “Just because we work in an artisan method with traditional ovens doesn’t mean we cannot develop and export,” he says. He recently travelled to Japan for the opening of a new boutique and plans to develop lines following Japanese seasons and themes and exporting to neighbouring countries.

Recipes for this sweet spicy biscuit exist all over Belgium, but Charleroi has its own version, the carolo. The cougnole, cougnou or cougnolle (the name varies depending on the region) is a raisin- or chocolate-encrusted brioche in the form of the infant Jesus.

5. Cuberdons Brussels region The Belgian speciality originated in Brussels at the end of 19th century. The classic cone-shaped sugar sweet is flavoured with raspberry and made from Arabic gum, although numerous flavours and colours now exist. After being overlooked in the 1980s, it is now undergoing a renaissance.

6. Couques de Dinant Namur province This tooth-cracking decorative biscuit is a familiar sight in the windows of bakeries and tourist shops in Dinant, impressive in its variety and size. It dates from the 15th-century, when the city was under siege and sugar was in short supply. Resourceful citizens confectioned a hard paste from flour and honey, which was pressed into copper moulds, resulting in the varied designs. Many bakeries give tours of their operations.

7. Baisers de Malmedy Liège province While a speciality of the town of Malmedy, variations of these sweet meringue confections can be found in Rochefort, Marche, Neufchâteau and Namur. They are traditionally sandwiched with butter cream, or occasionally ice-cream, and decorated with flaked almonds. Although eaten all year round, during Malmedy’s Carnival shops are piled high with baisers.

8. Tarts Walloon Brabant province Although not restricted to Walloon Brabant (Verviers’ rice pudding tart sometimes adorned with macaroon is one fine example), the art of pastry- and tart-making has been perfected in Nivelles and Chaumont-Gistoux. The latter is known for its brown sugar tart, which is now patented and a thriving artisan business. Refined white sugar is used in tarts in the Hainaut region, while Nivelles specialises in savoury tarts. Local societies exist to protect traditional recipes.

From left: cuberdons, Liège waffle, Destrée biscuit and macaroon


OPT philippe lermusiaux

28 - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 - 29

agend a Food on the move, world music and provocative street art: the season in Brussels Marie Dumont and Sarah Crew and Wallonia is alive and kicking


success is Tram Experience, one of the festival’s flagship events. The white tram rolls through the city while haute cuisine is served by one of the country’s two-star Michelin chefs. A familyfriendly alternative is PiQniQ, a Sunday gathering in one of the city’s 12 green spaces weekly until September 3. Lunch packs are available while classical music, culinary workshops and regional food stands add to the entertainment.

Couleur Café June 29 to July 1 The whole world comes to Brussels courtesy of this sizzling hot worldbeat fest, which for three days takes up residence in the sprawling Tour et Taxis complex near the canal. Artists this year include Cuba’s legendary Buena Vista Social Club orchestra with soulful singer Omara Portuondo; two ‘The Voice’ coaches, the UK’s flamboyant Jessie J and

Belgium’s American import BJ Scott, plus New York rappers De La Soul and Public Enemy; reggae king and dad-lookalike Stephen Marley; and France’s infectious trip-hop collective Chinese Man – plus exhibitions, souks and ethnic food stalls. Those willing to pitch a tent can do so in the Camping Zen.


Franck laguilliez

Vues sur murs Until September 2 Free, uncensored and provocative, street art has quickly established itself as a major art form of our time. The latest museum to let it inside its walls is the Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image Imprimée in La Louvière, which presents stencils, posters and stickers by Denis Meyers, Invader, Shepard Fairey, Evol, Jef Aerosol and other big names of the moment. Invader is a Parisian who fills cities with

enigmatic small mosaics shaped like space engines; Evol turns street furniture into dreary miniature apartment blocks; while Shepard Fairey is best known for having designed Obama’s 2008 campaign poster, which earned him a heartfelt letter of thanks from the president himself. A film by the elusive yet ever popular Banksy is screened.

Daoud and mezzo Marie-Catherine Baclin sing opera extracts and light music 100 metres underground. An important Ardennes tourist attraction, the domain offers tours, a 100-year-old tram, sound and light show, wildlife reserve and theatre.

Le Festival au Carré in Mons July 1-11 From top: Tram Experience; Jessie J; urban art at La Louvière; Jane Birkin

30 - Spring 2012

It’s holiday season in Mons as the city warms up for the European Capital of Culture tag in 2015 by hosting its annual multidisciplinary arts festival. The 12th edition has a new home in the Site des Arbalestriers. Cutting-edge programming continues with francophone and Flemish performers

Saffina Rana


ou don’t have to look hard to find out why François Fornieri, director and co-founder of Liège University spin-off Mithra Pharmaceuticals was awarded the title of Belgium’s Manager of the Year 2011 by Trends-Tendances magazine. For starters, from 2010 to 2011, in the midst of economic recession, he increased turnover by €4 million to €18 million. Look a little closer and you’ll find that he doubled turnover between 2006 and 2010 to €14 million and turned the company into a market leader in Belgium. Mithra commercialises products and treatments for women’s healthcare – over-the-counter and prescription vitamin supplements for fertility, pregnancy, osteoporosis and menopause, utero-vaginal preparations, cancer therapies and contraceptive pills. Only 13 years old, it leads the Belgian market in contraceptive pills and its products are on sale in 43 countries. Fornieri, a graduate biochemist from ULg, set up Mithra with ULg Professor Jean-Michel Foidart in 1999, a year after leaving the multinational Bayer Schering Pharma, where he specialised in gynaecology products. It was a realisation during his 12 years there that sparked the idea of a specialised venture. “I was convinced that the company [Bayer Schering Pharma] wouldn’t increase investment in female healthcare and eventually would start to drop it,” he says. “Why? Because research and development in this field of pharmaceuticals is very expensive, more expensive than, say, for cardiovascular disease and other disease areas, and the return on investment is low in comparison. And I thought it important to work in R&D in this field for contraception, for cancer, for everything.” His insight paid off, with the economic climate in Europe seeing several multinational pharmaceuticals companies pare down their operations and investments in the sector. At the offset, Fornieri worked day and night to establish the Mithra brand. “I did everything myself during the first two years – working a lot, taking all the opportunities, doing a lot of networking. I can work twenty hours a day, I need only three or four hours’ sleep,” he says. “But the best manager is not the guy who does everything: it’s the guy with a good team.” In 2001 Fornieri set about building a dream team. He has no qualms about sharing this know-how. “That’s the key to success,” he says. “Creating a good team quickly, with the best experts in all the fields of the company.” The dream team has led to Mithra investing more than €40 million in R&D and developing a generic contraceptive in 2003 – Daphne, now the market leader in Belgium. In

2010, Fornieri and Foidart went on to create Uteron Pharma to take over all the R&D operations. Uteron is engaged in joint research ventures with several Belgian universities for which Mithra owns commercial rights. Foidart was also honoured this year, in March, with the Prix BologneLemaire du Wallon which not only recognises his career as doctor and researcher but also his role in Mithra. Fornieri says he owes his commercial acumen to his maternal grandmother, a Sicilian immigrant. “My mother is from a commercial family and my grandmother was a role model for me. She did a lot of things, created different business. She travelled extensively through France, Italy, Luxembourg and Belgium making and selling clothes and also became the Jupiler family governess. My time with my grandmother was great, we spoke a lot,” he says. Fornieri’s parents were the first generation of their respective families to be born in Belgium. Fornieri puts his work ethic down to his father, who went to work in the Liège steelworks, now ArcelorMittal. “He wasn’t commercially minded but he was a great worker. I learned the value of hard work from him,” he says. With a number of large pharmaceuticals companies continuing to decrease their women’s health portfolios, the future for Mithra looks bright, according to Fornieri: “Pfizer has stopped investment in gynaecology and Bayer Schering is losing its market share – so I think we have great future opportunities with this market.”

François Fornieri, head of Mithra and manager of the year

“The best manager is

not the guy who does

everything: it’s the guy

Han-chanté Until October 13 The natural underground world of the caves of Han-sur-Lesse is the intimate setting for a new series of concerts. Two talented opera singers, the Les Colriques choir and a flautist perform in the offbeat venue boasting superlative acoustics. The pure, unaccompanied voices of soprano Jasmine

The right prescription Manager of the Year François Fornieri is leading the field of women’s healthcare

Brusselicious 2012 Until December 30 This year-long food festival is as eclectic as you would expect from a city that reveres its chip stands as much as its hearty-eating brasseries and fine-dining restaurants. Under the banner of Brusselicious the capital celebrates its food culture with a tempting series of quirky and fun happenings. They range from giant sculptures of vegetables in public spaces to the gastronomic and astronomically priced Dining in the Sky, a 22-person space suspended from a crane. Proving a runaway

enc ounter


topping the bill alongside artists from neighbouring countries. They include singer Jane Birkin, choreographers Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Michèle Ann De Mey, and writer/directors Tom Lanoye and Wim Vandekeybus.

with a good team”

Spring 2012 - 31

ď ”


32 - June 2009

the big pic ture


File: Railway in Wallonia 36p.

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