STUDIO CONCEPTS AND ANALYSIS FALL 2013
coordinated by Bruno De Meulder
teaching staff: Verena Lenna, Christian Nolf, Florence Vannoorbeeck
KULeuven 2013 - 2014: MaHS + MaUSP + EMU
Molenbeek overground, Molenbeek underground.
Oikos re-defined: infrastructuring the post-industrial resilience.
Once qualified as a ‘Little Manchester’, more than any other part of the capital region Molenbeek embodies the industrial transformation of Brussels since the 19th century. This industrialization went hand in hand with waves of migration of what would soon be called the ‘working classes’. Successive economic crises since the 1950s turned the tide however, and at present Molenbeek evolves towards precariousness as a condition of neoliberal regimes.
The question is how a reinterpretation of the inherited built environment, but also the specific know-hows and vitality of its heterogeneous population can contribute to (re)position Molenbeek as an integral, be it particular part of the Brussels capital region. As a unique combinations of activities, spheres, dimensions and characters of the urban fabric, Molenbeek can be seen as a living laboratory of the 21st century cosmopolitan, mixed and dense urbanity.
The first phase of the studio analysed the urban ecology of Molenbeek, both in social and spatial terms, according to the themes of exchanging and working, living, learning and recreating. The second, research by design phase explored the potential of three relevant spatial figures in the perspective of re-discovering and updating the sense of the oikos. Structuring resilience, amplifying unexpressed potentialities and challenging the regional scale of Brussels are at the core of the strategies developed.