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In the Céramique district, you still feel the industrial past, even though you’re standing in the newest and most modern part of the city. It’s the kind of place where you look up and keep looking, to take in the impressive architecture, even as the ground around you buzzes with culture and activity. Céramique arose in the early 1990s on the site of ‘Société Céramique,’ a ceramics factory that operated from 1850 to 1985, best known for its tableware. When the factory was offered for sale to the municipality in the late 1980s, the idea to redevelop the area as a quality residential and commercial district quickly emerged, and Government Architect Jo Coenen was engaged to develop a master plan. One of his fundamental premises was to bring something of a Mediterranean feel to this part of the city. To achieve this, he brought in a luminary architects from southern Europe for the design of the various residential and business complexes. The result is a total package of architectural high point after high point, like Mario Botta’s ‘La Fortezza,’ Alvaro Siza’s ‘Tower of Siza,’ and perhaps the crowning glory, Aldo Rossi’s Bonnefanten Museum. But despite all the forward-looking architecture, the connection to the past remains, in the street names, remnants of older buildings and tableware that turn up unexpectedly, and the exhibitions in the Bonnefanten Museum and Centre Céramique. Each and every one is a golden thread of history interwoven into the fabric of today.

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