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Once upon a time in Belgium…

1968. The main square of Louvain is teeming with people. The turmoil begins … young people shaking their fists, brandishing enormous banners, yelling and throwing old paving stones left, right and centre. « Walloons out!». Too many students, too many clashes, enough is enough! This is how the French-speaking students were thrown out by their Dutch-speaking counterparts. But where could they go ?

Try as they might to find a solution, it was impossible … until the mayor of a small provincial town, Yves du Monceau, offered them a vast plateau of land in his municipality. A municipality which was gaining importance thanks to the railway and its location in the heart of the Walloon Brabant province: Ottignies. Not a lot of persuasion required! But what a huge challenge for our students and lecturers: starting with a plot of land containing a few farms, fields and vegetation and building a new university.

It took a great idea borrowed from Leonardo da Vinci and an excellent team of architects and town planners to put in place, on 1st February 1971, a real city which incorporates the university itself. Only a few months later, in October 1972, the first students arrived complete with wellington boots on a site still covered in mud and cluttered with cranes, to attend the first lectures at what is now the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL).

A building site of such a scale that even now, the end is not in sight !


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