Condroz

Landscape

Limited by the Sambre and Lower Meuse valley on its north side, the landscape of the Condroz can be described as a long wave-shaped plateau, spit in half by the High Meuse valley. Erosion has sculpted Condroz' terrain in regular undulation, where sandstone crests alternate with limestone depressions, giving Condroz a unique landscape. The vegetal overlay emphasises the impact of the topography : the slopes are plowed, the muddy creek beds are flanked with meadows, while the windy and rocky crests are covered by woods.

This typical countryside landscape defines a mixt Openfield model. This organisation of space shows an open, agrair landscape, dedicated to both meadows and non-closed farmings. Based on a circular structure, it shows a living center, surrounded by a meadow ring, followed by another ring dedicated to farmings and finally, a last ring covered by forests. But Condroz' geology brings us yet another enlightenment. The bottom of steep, limestone slopes welcome meadows, while smoother, well watered and silt-full (thus full of nutritive elements) slopes are meant for farmings, and finally, sandstone hilltops, making infertile grounds, get covered in woods.

Condroz' villages, often set on the bottom of the slopes, or slightly below the hilltops, are characterised by a dense group of buildings, stretching along the waves. Other villages take place on ledges. The placement of houses is rather variable and is more tending to give houses a nicer orientation towards the sun, than trying to follow the pattern shown by the roads. Though some houses are attached, villages keep a very open, well aerated structure, within which wooded areas can appear. Outside of these, living spaces are rare, and is mostly represented by big farms and castles, spread in the landscape, which affirm their cultural Heritage.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

Typical coutryside habitat

The typical Condroz' house, high and without length, shows a relatively broad facade. They are generally two (sometimes up to two and a half) floors high, under a two-sided, symmetric roof. To this one-ridgepiece model, gathering all functions under a same roof, get added more complex units, made of smaller, additional buildings, sometimes aligned with the main lines of the central building. This organisation defines a circulating and working space, under the form of an open yard.

In bigger farms, a wall closes the yard, thus only accessible through a fence or a gate. Condroz' traditional houses are built from local materials, which are extracted from several quarries in the area. The grey, slightly shiny aspect of limestone, and the warmer shades of blond sandstone, embellish the walls of these houses along with, in some places, the presence of white facing. Grey tiles and slate make it as most of roof covering materials; as red tiles are used more seldom in Condroz.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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Ardennes

The Ardennes appear as a broad, high, shaly plateau, cut through by several valleys with often very steep slopes. The smoothly modeled agricultural plateaux and the steeper terrain of wooded spaces both characterise the central Ardenne.

paysage ardenne

The landscapes of central Ardenne match the model of the Openfield with a dominance of meadows. This organisation of space shows a circular disposition of different lays around the central village. A first ring is made of non-closed meadows, established on the plateau, the smooth slopes or the bottom of the valleys. The poor average quality of the ground and the tougher climatic condition of the high Ardennes' plateau favoured the development of grass meadowing as the main agricultural activity in the area. As for plowings, they take place on a small part of the plateau, as well as on the smoothest slopes. The woods, more and more made of pines, are either spread into small spots, or stacked into large, dense forests, on rather poor grounds.

paysage ardenne

This growth of pines is due to the ending of the agricultural methods from the end of the 19nth century. Finally, let's point out the unusual evolution of the north-east Ardenne plateaux, which have, due to their proximity to the Land of Herve, developed bocage-like landscapes, defined by partly closed meadows. The habitat, relatively homogeneous, is characterised by the fact that houses are grouped in villages and hamlets. In the west, villages are more reunited, while in the east, villages and hamlets are less dense. The traditional core is generally made of houses without any form of order, randomly set, and separated by gardens and meadows.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

Traditional habitat

The traditional house in the Ardennes is meant to resist the rough, cold and wet climatic conditions of the region. The outside materials, made of a low, thick masonry work and a smooth roof, protect the volume from the cold, while preventing the building from a too strong wind exposition. The overall shape of the house itself, with its square plane and its one-block shape, limits any loss of warmth, too. The orientation of the building towards the sun is also important.

  maison ardenne

The house's gable, lighted by several windows, is exposed to the south, to maximise the solar income, while the doors leading to most parts of the house are on the east side. To the north-east, blind walls offer an additional protection against the north winds and the west rains.  The inner organisation also helps for the global protection of the building. Attached to this main building, the stable acts as an efficient thermic shield, thanks to the warmth of the livestock. Finally, the hay stocks, under the roofing, act as natural isolating mattresses.

The dominating model is a farm made of three units, with one ridgepiece for the roof. This one-block building is divided in three thin lays: the houses, the stable (with the hayloft just above) and the barn. With their massive look, these traditional houses usually show one or two floors, under a slate-made, smooth roof. A lay of "chèrbins", (thicker slate pieces without symmetry and stuck in a bigger clay piece) cover older buildings. Shale and shaly sandstone, with their grey shades, are used for most masonry works. Long ago, they were covered by a lighter facing.

maison ardenne

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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Hennuyer silty plateau

Landscape

Located in the north-west side of Wallonia, this landscape gathers the Hainaut territories, spreading along the Haine's plain. The hennuyer silty plateau, like other silty regions, shows a smooth and uniform terrain, made of plains and low plateaux with flat bottom valleys. Only the "Hills' country", located north-east of the Tournaisis, is characterised by a wave-shaped terrain.

The ground occupation in the hennuyer silty plateau, greatly dominated by plowings, shows itself as an openfield landscape. This organisation of space is characterised by the almost exclusive presence of farmings, with a lack of fences around the plowings. Except for some isolated big farms, most of the habitat is grouped in "village-stacks". A first ring of meadows usually surrounds the village with additional fields in the bottom of the valleys, modeled by the streams. Beyond it, one shall see large areas, dominated by a giant puzzle of fields and big plowings. Woods are left for steeper slopes and poor quality grounds. This circular structure has built a star-shaped road network. Roads and ways diverge from the core of the village to pass by the plowings, or to connect with other villages.

To this organisation mode, the "Hills' country" serves, once again, as an exception, with smaller villages, and houses spread in a landscape where meadows, separate by several hedges, take place instead of plowings. This organisation matches the landscape structure of the bocage, which is sadly disappearing nowadays.

Sources : FRW – CPDT

Traditional countryside habitat

Most houses are made of one, single volume, often without a second floor and not very long, topped by a steep roofing. During the 19nth century, houses were gradually heightened of a half-floor, then an entire one. Outside of villages, the spread out habitat is made of farms of various dimensions, from the "block" house, built as one unit, to the farm with a closed yard, truly revealing the diversity of the countryside life.

The dark red tones of bricks and the orange ones of tiles clothe the majority of houses in the hennuyer plateau, sometimes shaded by a lime lay, in the north, and by the darker shades of tiles in the south.Sources : FRW – CPDT

 

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Brabançon silty plateau

Landscape

Located on the north of the industrial valley, the landscape area, similar to the Hesbaye, acts as an extension of the hennuyer silty plateau. This group of low plateaux offers a calm terrain, characterised by huge areas, which weak rippling get only animated when you get close to the west side, due to a relatively dense hydrographic web.

The great quality of the brabançon silty plateau' s grounds means a large superiority of farmings, mostly for cereals. These ample areas draw together a giant plowing puzzle in an openfield landscape. This space organisation is defined by the almost exclusive presence of plowings, and the lack of fences around the fields.  Except for some isolated big farms, most of the habitat is grouped in "village-stacks". Meadows, rarer, are packed in the bottom of wetter valleys, while woods cover essentially valley's slopes.

Traditional countryside habitat

The majority of houses in the brabançon plateau present a horizontal main line. A low volume, based on only one floor, stretches underneath a steep roof. During the 19nth century, houses were gradually heightened of a half-floor, then an entire one. Outside of villages the spread habitat offers a great variety of shapes, depending on the size of the exploitation. It is made of a "block" house, built as one unit, and of a farm with a closed yard, defined by the orientation of the buildings and annexes towards one another. Big quadrilateral farms are often introduced in the landscape by an impressive entrance porch.

Overall, the traditional habitat, elaborated from local materials, shows a chromatic palette that evolves from the warmer shades of bricks and yellow tiles to the lighter shades of white silt. Other tones dress such houses, as the shades of slate and anthracite grey, or those of local stone. The use of stones for framings, supports or basements nicely animate the composition of the facade as well.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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Hesbaye

Landscape

This large landscape takes its roots in the north side of the industrial valley, like the hennuyer and brabançon silty plateaux, which it shares its main characteristics with. This low plateaux area shows a flat, or slightly riddled area, covered with broad farmings, open on faraway views. Only the downstreams of the Orneau, the Mehaigne, the Burdinale and the Geer show a more pronounced sidedness in the Hesbaye's plateau giving to these valleys a particular landscape.

The thick and well-watered silty overlay assures a great ground quality. This underground richness causes, at the surface, a large domination of plowing over livestock raising. These ample areas draw together a giant plowing puzzle in an openfield landscape. This space organisation is defined by the almost exclusive presence of plowings, and the lack of fences around the fields. Except for some isolated big farms, most of the habitat is grouped in "village-stacks", carefully placed away from the rich grounds, guaranteeing a nice agricultural production.  Put aside to a more "complementary" role, meadows are grouped in the bottom of wetter valleys. Woods, rarer as well, remain in the steeper slopes of the valleys or on poor quality grounds.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

Traditional countryside habitat

Most of Hesbaye's buildings are made of a long, low volume underneath a steep roof, like in the hennuyer and brabançon plateaux. Houses were gradually heightened of a half, than an entire floor. Outside of villages, the habitat is spread around the landscape. It is made of farms of various dimensions, from the "block" house, built as one unit, to the farm with a closed yard, defined by the orientation of the buildings and annexes towards one another. Big quadrilateral farms are often introduced in the landscape by an impressive entrance porch.

The association of the dark red tones of bricks and the orange ones of tiles clothe the majority of Hesbaye's houses. Grey tiles, colorful covering and local stone complete this color range in harmony, bringing their own shades and textures. In the north-west of the Hesbaye, the use of the "stone of Gobertange", in the basements, quoins and framings, offers a variety of colors, mixing the light beige of stones to the orange red shades of bricks and tiles.

maison hesbaye

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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Land of Herve

Landscape

The Land of Herve is covers the south of the Meuse, beyond Liège, and stops near the Vesdre. Several streams have sculpted this landscape frame as a succession of plateaux and depressions with wet bottoms. The underground, made of compact and waterproof clay sediments, is the cause of such soaking wet grounds, more friendly to meadows than to farmings. From the higher points, one's look get lost in an ample verdant panorama, which hedges, going through the fields and the isolated farms, draw the main lines of the landscape.

This typical green grid of the Land of Herve is revealing a bocage-type of landscape. This agrair structure means a closed landscape where meadows, surrounded by hedges, are dominant. Older orchards with high stems punctuate the meadows and are grouped around builded areas. Beyond the village core, the habitat diverges and spreads itself in the landscape, without any obvious ordre, in little farms isolated in their terroir. The frequency of cares that must be brought to the livestock, as well as the multitude of springs explain this almost total spreading out of houses, revelator of the Land of Herve. Roads and ways make a dense spidernet shaped traffic and connect the different farms of the village to one another, s well as to the main communication lines. As nowhere else in Wallonia, the Land of Herve is THE example of Bocage landscape. Today, this singularity of such landscape is in its way of degradation.

From farming to raising, birth of the landscape of Herve

Two fundamental variables rushed the conversion to livestock raising and deeply transform the face of the Land of Herve. First, in the 16nth century, Charles V (catholic) took strategic and economic measures, forbidding the inhabitants to export crops and cereals to the protestants in the north. Secondly, the "tithe", part due to the Christian Church from agricultural income, was not applying on meadowing production, unlike on farming production. This mutation of the rural economy brought a splitting of the habitat, with farms spread out in the meadows with wet grounds, nice for great quality grass. In order to contain the livestock, hedges came to naturally close the different fields and create vegetal chess board, at the scale of the landscape. Finally, during the 17nth century, fruit trees appeared in the bocage and started participating to the landscape identity of the Land of Herve.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

Traditional coutryside habitat

Houses in the Land of Herve offer a great variety of shapes, which depend on the size of the exploitation and diversity of activities. With its simple volume and yet impressive look, the house has a rectangle plane where the living unit and stable are packed underneath the same roof. Usually made of two floors, sometimes two and a half, the building is topped by a steep roof. Frequently, annexes were added to the main building or in parallel to it, thus uncovering a closed or open yard near the road.

Unlike farms, which are spread out in the landscape, houses of the village core, closely attached along the streets, offer to one's look a more city-like appearance, due to the composition and organisation of their facades. With a great range of colours and textures, it looks as if the houses were making fun of contrast and materials: anthracite grey tiles or more orange red ones for the roofs, masonry works made of either brown red bricks or beige sandstone, framings in woods, wattle and daub or bricks, chainings of light grey limestone, punctuated by some white covering... all participate to the architectural status of the Land of Herve.

maison pays de herve

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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Fagne Famenne

Paysage

The Fagne-Famenne is shaped as a broad depression, grooved by abundant secondairy streams. Stretching between the plateau of Condroz and the forests of the Ardenne, this landscape offers a relatively smooth terrain, structured by wooded stripes, alternating with meadows, punctuated with villages. A particular area, called "Calestienne", rings the shaly depression of the Fagne (west from the Meuse) and of the Famenne (east from the Meuse), thus assuring a visible transition along the Ardenne's plateau. This thin limestone ledge is ligned with long hills, called "tiennes".

In this natural context, people mostly established themselves on the meridional part of the region. Choosing the contact zones between the limestone plateau and the shaly depression, villages have been established close to the springs, taking advantage of the morning sunshine whilst protected from winds, and near the fields. The Fagne-Famenne settelments display an agrair structure matching the openfield model, with predominating meadows. The location for grouwing crops, meadows or woods are dictated by the quality ofthe terrain: The shaly valley bottoms, with their wet and poor grounds, welcome meadows and orchards, where remnants of hedges remain, in the form of non-trimmed bushes. The ledges of the limestone plateau, full of nutritive elements, are occupied by non-enclosed plowings, while the steep slopes and the "tiennes", with their shalow soils, are suitible for woods and extensive grasing areas. Once grazed by sheep, these calcareous grasslands hide a natural habitat full of an exceptionnal biodiversity. In the Famenne, most villages show a high density of houses, with buildings very close to one another. Frequently set on a slope, villages seem to descend from the ridges, though carefully avoiding the bottom of the depression. On the Fagne side, scatered farmhouses are freqeuently found between villages.

Sources : CPDT - FRW

Traditional countryside habitat

In Famenne as in Fagne, rural buildings belong to the "block" farmhouse type, including all functions under one roof: living room or rooms, the stable and barn. Showing the geologic diversity, traditional houses display a wide range of materials and textures. Though limestone, painted or not, is preponderant, the careful observer will detect the presence of shale, sandstone or even red brick. Finally, here and there, some timber framed masonry remains, witnesses of ancien construction traditions.

Older Fagne's buildings are characterised by a large attic structure underneath the roof.

maison fagne famenne

Sources : CPDT - FRW

 

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Lorraine

Paysage

This high plateau region, located south of the Ardenne, is rhythmed by a succession of asymmetric terrains, called "cuestas", resulting of the ground's step erosion. Each cuesta is made of a "front" on the north (a short and steep slope) and a "back" on the south (a long and smooth slope). Below the front is a depression, developed in smoother rocks, where a stream usually flows.

The space organisation in Lorraine matches the openfield model, with dominating meadows.A ring of fields, mostly affected to meadowing, stretches around the village core. These fields uniformly recover the silty and wet bottoms of the valleys, as well as some smooth slopes. The farmings, packed on better watered marly or sandy-silty grounds, are most usually found in smooth slopes. The forest is located on sandy and poor grounds of the cuestas' back, the skinny grounds of the fronts or on the steep slops of some valleys.

The habitat is grouped in dense villages, set below a front or on the back of a cuesta; the strong agricultural restraints of the community have indeed drastically limited the spreading out of the habitat. An alignment of attached houses, often set parallely to the street, usually form the core of the village. The levelling of the doors give an open access to the road, called "usoir", letting the structure of the street-village appear. This space was meant for the stocking of manure, wood and a part of the agricultural material.

Sources : FRW - CPDT

Traditional habitat

Traditional houses in Lorraine are usually built with sandstone and limestone. This tender waterproof rock require the adding of a protection covering. Depending on the material used for it, this covering can be of different shades. In the distant rural habitat, houses tend to be longer, depending on the owner's wealth: the small bicellular house of the laborer stands aside the tri-/quadricellular one of the farmer. These "block" houses are usually made of two levels and are covered in a grey shales roof, sometimes ended by a small attic called "croupette". This croupette is a small, lateral piece of the roof, that joins the two slopes without getting as low as they do. It helps assuring the stability of the roofing, and decreases the wind exposition.

Let's point out the fact that in the south-west of Lorraine, the orange red "channel" tile covers some smoother shaped roofs.

maison lorraine

Sources : FRW - CPDT

 

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