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A Calm Place
in Schaerbeek (Brussels)

“A Calm Place” is an initiative of Alive Architecture (AA) and the KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture, in Brussels. The intervention site is located in Schaerbeek, near the Place de la Reine, in a "very diverse" neighbourhood with a long migratory history which began with the arrival of immigrant workers in the 1960s. Since then, the local identity of the neighbourhood has evolved into a mixture of different cultures and ethnicities with a variety of users following the establishment of several Hautes Écoles located around Place de la Reine.  

 

The presence of students and teachers is not very visible in public spaces and their interactions with the neighbours are scarce. The North Brabant Saint-Lazare Urban Renovation Contract and the municipality of Schaerbeek have joined efforts to launch the “Campus 1030” project, one of its goals is the creation of a student HUB. Through this project, the municipality aims at creating a sense of identity shared with the four Hautes Écoles, by promoting meetings between residents and students.  

 

The purpose of this placemaking activity is to re-discover the green space next to Maison des Arts and to transform it into a space of tranquillity and meditation which helps to anchor student life in the socio-spatial urban context. 

 

The project is supported by a participative budget of the North Brabant Saint Lazare Renovation Contract. 

Activities

The planned activities combine on-site events organized around a mobile installation (Mobile Hub) with learning activities involving students, artists, passers-by and residents (Learning Bubble): 

 

Mobile HUB. A mobile installation will be placed in a green area located at the entrance of the Maison des Arts to transform this zone into a sensual, calm and meditative space. To attract passers-by from the Chaussée de Haecht, the area occupied by the hub will be delimited with signs.  

This Mobile HUB will be used in multiple forms, to attract participants and invite them to discover and experience the green space as a peaceful heaven in the dense neighbourhood of Schaerbeek. For example, cooking with aromatic ingredients in the community kitchen will generate a pleasant sensuous smell and attract people to the place, and a calm music will invite people to come and take a cup of tea. The meetings will contribute to creating interactions between students, residents, visitors to the Maison des Arts and other local actors, and to test future usages of the green space.  

 

Learning Bubble. KU Leuven will set up a bubble on the Place de la Reine. It will attract the attention of the public by its spatial qualities such as ephemerality, lightness, transparency, inclusivity, and particularly because of its luminosity at night. Inside the bubble, there will be an exhibition of KU Leuven students’ analysis of the work of activist groups in the region of Brussels. This exhibition will give rise to a knowledge creation around the meaning of constructing places.  

Objectives

In accordance with the objectives of A-Place, the purpose of the planned activities will be: 

 

  • To develop and apply creative placemaking practices which help to reveal the manifold meanings that the various individuals and social groups give to the places they share and will share in the future. With this purpose, two interlinked temporary events will be installed in the area. 

  • To create cross-disciplinary learning spaces arising from the confluence of the artistic practices with the educational programmes. The on-site events around the Mobile HUB will be linked to the artistic network at regional scale created by students of the course “Alt_Shift*: Altering Practices for Urban Inclusion” at KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture. Altering practices are those which seek to question and transform the socio-political conditions of spaces through grassroots interventions, as well as to test the limits and procedures of the disciplines involved in the production of space. As such, they aim to go beyond the world-as-it-is and extend towards the-world-as-it-can-be. 

Links

https://www.renovas.be/accueil-renovas/ 

https://lamaisondesarts.be/la-maison-des-arts/le-lieu/ 

Contact

If you would like to have more information about these placemaking activities, please contact: 

 

Julie Réveillon 

julie@alivearchitecture.eu 

Burak Pak 

burak.pak@kuleuven.be 

Participants

The activities will be carried out with the participation of: 

 

Civic organizations

Renovas  

 

Cultural organizations

La Maison des Arts 

 

Architecture students and faculty

Students of the Master course “Alt_Shift” at KU Leuven  

 

Researchers

Members of the “Alt Shift*” research group  

 

Urban activists

Pool is Cool, Urbanistas, Urban Foxes, Extinction Rebellion Brussels, Recyclart Fabriek, Communa