Brussels is full of cultural, artistic and socio-cultural dynamics. Our city is rich in an active network of “city makers”, who already play a role in transforming our living environment from the bottom up. However, many social challenges still need to be addressed in our city: in 2030, we want a decolonized public space, affordable and quality housing for all, a circular and locally anchored economy, a fossil free city with less energy poverty, sustainable and local food production, a city resilient to climate change, enough workplaces for young Brussels and international artists, and so on.
In 2023, Brussels2030 supports seven “future places”, so that the many dynamics already present work together on social objectives – often abstract – in concrete places. Seven local coalitions are working on a collective and inclusive transformation of their living environment. Brussels2030 aims to create the nurturing soil, the context and the playground of the cultural capital in 2030.
A network of future places
Brussels2030 wants to enhance the existing dynamics in the city, making them visible, stimulating them more, connecting them and combining their strengths. Imagination and culture are the driving forces. We also want to better anchor these existing dynamics in their local environment. Thus, these future places will be better equipped to face the social challenges we all face.
The Future Places project was born from an exchange with an open working group, bringing together more than 30 people from (socio-)cultural, artistic and spatial practices in Brussels.
In 2023, Brussels2030 initiated the construction of a network of seven future places: concrete places where local coalitions of existing cultural and social partners join forces to achieve social change.
In January 2023, we launched an open call for city makers who wanted to participate in the emergence of future places. With this open call, we wanted to appeal to as many Brussels city makers as possible: from established organisations to young collectives.
Organizations could apply individually or as a coalition of new or existing organizations. At the end of March, a jury evaluated more than 80 applications. The jury was composed of Jan Goossens and Fatima Zibouh (Brussels2030 asbl), Roeland Dudal (Architecture Workroom Brussels), Geoffrey Grulois (LoUIsE), Tom Sanders (Perspective.Brussels), Verena Lenna (VUB) and Valérie Martino (Théâtre National). The jury proposed seven future places, linking to each between 1 to 6 proposals around a specific territory.
The trajectory of 2023 is seen as a first experiment and a prototypal version of what could happen by 2030: a large network of future places as a cultural capital. Thus, we are already starting to build the socio-spatial framework of Brussels as the Capital of Culture in 2030. In April and May 2023, we sat down for the first time with the 7 prototypes of Future Places, to test the territory, themes and commitments.
Seven future places
Social economy and solidarity
West Station – Ossegem
The municipality of Molenbeek, Atelier Groot Eiland, Samen voor Morgen vzw, Espirito Mundo vzw, Curieus vzw, Carré & Co vzw, Collectif Dallas vzw, pali pali, MUS-E, UP – Circus & Performing Arts and Talented Youth Network want to connect two poles of Molenbeek in full transformation – West Station and Ossegem. They want to activate, through temporary occupation, these developing neighborhoods as productive future places for youth, talent development, solidarity, social economy and local employment.
Masui – Brabant – Reine
Zinneke, 123 vzw, Cycl.one, Fabrik vzw, Toestand (in-limbo), Espace 51 and Brupower envisage a partnership to develop productive districts along the axis of Rue des Palais as future places. Rue des Palais connects the Masui district and the Brabant district in Schaerbeek to the Place de la Reine on the border with Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode. How can the social and cultural network serve as a lever for the popularization of the ecological transition, the local anchoring of the circular economy and the acceleration of the transformation into sustainable energy districts? And how can we ensure that these changes benefit everyone?
All engaged in the public space
Church of Marolles – Chapel
ZIJkant, The City is our Playground, MUS-E, MetX, CC Bruegel, Brede School Nieuwland, Mazette, Queers in Space and Brussels by Night Federation want to transform the Marolles and La Chapelle district into a future place. In this future place, the Rue Blaes connects the skate park to the Place du Jeu de Balle and the Porte de Hal. Together, they want to build neighborhoods where public space and the way it is created integrate the dimension of gender and queerness, day and night. Popular and urban culture can serve as a lever.
Cureghem – Heyvaert
Dérive, Avandi / Microfactory, Superworld, Cultureghem, Gilbard, Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel, Rezolution, The City is our Playground, Gemeente Anderlecht, cultural center of Anderlecht, Bibliotheek Anderlecht, Bibliothèque francophone de l’espace Carême and Makettt work on bridges between the Heyvaert district and Cureghem. These organisations want to study together whether the public and private space of the area can be redistributed in favour of soft mobility, and how it is possible to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of this area.
La Vénerie and Park Poétik join forces to explore the territory of Watermael-Boitsfort as a place of the future. In doing so, Park Poétik finds itself in less familiar territory, on the outskirts of the city, where it wants to use its accumulated expertise in a new environment. In collaboration with the local cultural network of La Vénerie, they aim to “re-enchant” the neighborhood by linking cultural participation to local challenges such as polarization and densification of space.
Landscape as a lever for an inclusive city
Natural Contract Lab, Workspace Brussels, KANAL and the State Archives weave a community of guardians of the Senne with the aim of recognizing the river as a living entity. Together with the multidisciplinary group, they will map the entire river sensorial and juridically, from the source to its bifurcation, with the aim of supporting the reopening of the river in Brussels. They aim to set up a collaboration with the river as an ally, in order to develop gatherings around water with communities living along the banks of the river. They question the role of care and governance, the river as a meeting place, a source of biodiversity and an opportunity for climate adaptation.
The Etats Généraux de l’Eau in Brussels, Latitude Platform, Atelier Cartographique, Bibliothèque Hergé, Pauline de la Boulaye, André Lantremange, Community Land Trust Brussels, Communa and HER-BRONNEN / RE(S) SOURCES are investing in the transformation of the Maelbeek Valley into a future place. They build a local network within the valley that addresses issues such as springs, meeting places, flood management or affordable housing. Within this network, they also seek solidarity, to counterbalance the competitive framework in which community life finds itself in its search for resources.
These project proposals are open collaborations, with each organization, expert or citizen contributing according to their own potential. The doors of the future places will also always be open to new partners.
The seven future places in 2023
Brussels2030 will guide the seven local coalitions in their development as future places in 2023. First of all, we offer our support to find the right composition of each of the coalitions, in terms of local anchoring and thematic expertise. We help coalitions find the right form of collaboration, as this is the first collaboration for many organizations. In addition, we guide each local coalition in the collective exploration and socio-spatial analysis of its environment. Together, we discover the opportunities and barriers in their environment for the development of future places.
Based on this shared reading of the environment, we help local coalitions imagine their future in 2030. Finally, we are developing together a “roadmap” for the development of the future place from 2023 to 2030. We also help local coalitions formulate concrete cultural action or intervention as a first step towards 2030.
All the results are compiled in an “atlas”. This atlas is an important element of Brussels’ candidacy for the 2030 Capital of Culture.
Summer Assembly 2023: the foundations of the future places
On 29 June, the Brussels 2030 Summer Assembly will focus on the future places. We will bring together the seven future places of Brussels2030 with other city-makers, urban experiments and future places. This is how we begin to build a wider network of future places, by 2030.
Brussels2030 as a framework
The Future places project is part of the “territory” trajectory of Brussels2030. This trajectory responds to one of the three key questions on which Brussels2030 asbl is working as part of the preparation of the application. The other two questions are:
- How can we dream, imagine and narrate Brussels together in view of 2030, starting from its super-diversity and fragmentation?
- How to democratize Brussels by 2030, by thinking about it and carrying it together?
Intrigued, but still have questions? Contact Maya Galle email@example.com.
Watch the presentation of the info moment:
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the ambitions a (local) coalition pursues in a future place?
We are looking for organisations that intend*:
- to work from and with a concrete territory. This territory can be a building or a site, a street, a square, a neighbourhood or even a larger area or a network of multiple territories all over the city.
- get societal transitions to take root in that territory, and do so in an integrated way. City makers are willing to combine transitions in the field of climate and ecology with transitions in the field of social sustainability and democracy. In this territory, the coalitions pursue a refreshing combination of and cross-fertilisation between several of the following themes: care and solidarity, affordable housing, mobility, education, the redistribution of access to (public) space, circular and productive economy, sustainable mobility, sustainable energy, water management, local food production, soil care and biodiversity (or others).
- diversify their engaged audiences on a territorial scale.
- do all of the above in association with one or several organisations, working or wishing to work in the same territory, which are complementary in terms of the transition themes they are working on. Together, they form a local coalition.
- also establish links from this territory with other coalitions at other future places, as part of the Brussels2030 city project.
* Intention refers to the motivation and enthusiasm of candidate city makers. Having a concrete coalition or territory is a plus but not a requirement to apply (see FAQ 10). During the selection process, candidate city makers are linked to one another in consideration of the territory or theme.
What might such a future place look like?
Who are possible city makers (in the making)?
For city makers, we are thinking of (although this is by no means limited to) the following initiatives: culture house, arts centre, cultural centre, theatre house or performing arts centre, religious house, local service centre, medical centre, district health centre, artists’ studio, neighbourhood antenna, community centre, social workers, social facilities, radio, umbrella organisation, network organisation, artists’ collective, architectural office, sports association, youth movement, employment care associations, workshops, self-picking farm, association bar, studios (woodworking, metalwork, etc.), social economy, civic initiative, association, meeting place, coworking place, night club, design practice, materials trade, youth service, neighbourhood committee, youth centre, youth house, temporary user, civic platform, library, community garden, advocacy group, transitional urbanist, materials library, etc.
How does the matchmaking work?
Some organisations will apply as a coalition because they already have ongoing collaborative schemes or have contacted other organisations by themselves in order to enter a joint application. We encourage city makers to submit joint applications as a coalition, although this is not a requirement!
Interested city makers do not need to be part of a coalition in advance in order to apply. Interested city makers who do apply as a coalition may also indicate that they are still looking for other organisations to team up with as part of their coalition, if they feel they are still missing a complement in terms of (the diversity of) themes or presence in the territory. This may also be on the recommendation of the Brussels2030 team.
Brussels2030 will guide the city makers in the ‘matchmaking’ process, putting them in touch with other interested city makers, according to the theme or territory. To do so, we propose to proceed in several steps.
1. For the application (up to and including 14 March)
At the two info sessions, we will set aside time to link up interested organisations, in consideration of the theme and/or location they specified in the registration form. In doing so, we are keen to encourage organisations to take the first steps towards forming a coalition – if they have not done so yet – and encourage them to jointly apply with others.
2. The jury (March)
As part of the selection process, we propose to match candidates (especially those organisations submitting by themselves) based on themes and/or territory. The jury will adjudicate and make a selection from these newly formed coalitions. The jury will not adjudicate the original applications as such.
3. During guidance (early April to late June)
Even after the selection of the future places, we will continue to guide the selected city maker(s) in lending further shape to the local coalition. In doing so, we also put them in touch with organisations that had not previously expressed their interest in the call for projects. Our aim is to consolidate the selected local coalitions in June 2023.
What will we do in 2023?
The guidance process runs from mid-April to late December 2023. The process will be largely designed in joint consultation with the selected (coalitions of) city makers, in consideration of their capabilities and capacity, and the available resources (see question 7). Below is an outline of the theoretical or ideal process, for illustrative purposes.
April to June
- Start-up meeting: presentation of the coalition, introduction to other organisations, co-creation of the process
- Site visit per future place with all organisations involved
- Preparation of a shared analysis of the development opportunities of each future place: outlining the needs, opportunities and thresholds of the location as a future place, from the different organisations – by way of a workshop or DIY toolkit
- Guidance in the search for funding for the further elaboration and accomplishment of the project (to finance the test of the future place) – yielding existing financial opportunities and searching for co-financing partners
- Guidance on creating a joint concept of the future place; developing a future vision or imaginary of the future places in 2030 – by way of a supervised workshop or DIY toolkit
Summer Assembly (28 June – 2 July
In late June, the local coalitions take part in several sessions of the Summer Assembly. At the Summer Assembly:
- we present, in tandem with the local coalitions, the interim results (visual material) of the joint analysis and the imaginary for 2030 for each future place
- local coalitions exchange insights among themselves
- we look at the accompanied future places from the perspective of a broad Brussels geography and we endeavour to identify other potential future places (e.g. non-selected coalitions)
- we seek to exchange views and practices with the two other sites of Brussels2030, notably Co-creation and Concept.
July to October
- Processing the insights from the Summer Assembly into the shared analysis and imaginary for 2030 – by way of supervised workshop or DIY toolkit, in-depth interviews and involving a wider audience
- Guidance in the search for funding for the further elaboration and accomplishment of the project (test of the future place)
- Determining the shape of the shared analysis and imaginary for 2030 in the form of one integrated and/or several cultural products, which will help inspire the application for Brussels2030
Start-up of the realisation of the future places’ tests, depending on available funding
Are there any resources linked to this call?
This call is not a project call with grants, but an open call to take part in the process of preparing the application for Brussels2030 (deadline summer 2024). This means that no Brussels2030 asbl (not-for-profit organisation) funding is guaranteed for the selected candidates. This is the case because the mandate and resources currently available to Brussels2030 asbl are limited to preparing an application. But Brussels2030 is keen to get started on the ground.
Brussels2030 supports the selected coalitions of city makers in attracting funding, so these coalitions are able to accomplish the project for their future place starting from late 2023 on the ground by way of a first test, heading towards 2030. Brussels2030 identifies funding opportunities for each of the coalitions. In addition, Brussels2030 engages with potential ‘co-funders’. The aim is to secure € 15,000 per coalition to carry out tests with a view to accomplishing their future place. In addition, the six coalitions and future places also agree to and endorse the Brussels2030 2024 application. If Brussels is selected as Capital of Culture, this also comes with financial opportunities.
What time expenditure is expected from city makers?
In the first phase (now until the end of 2023) the process of the call for city makers will greatly depend on the available capacity of the selected (coalitions of) city makers. Which is why we will co-create the process for each future place working in tandem with each of the respective selected (coalition) of city makers. The proposed process flow allows a high degree of flexibility (FAQ 5). For each step, we will provide tools and methodologies that involve more or less collective meetings for instance.
We expect a minimum time expenditure of:
- at least 4 days for different individuals within the local coalition to take part in the various research and guidance meetings.
- at least 1 day for different individuals within the local coalition to take part in the Summer Assembly.
- at least 5 working days for different individuals within the local coalition to help work up the atlas of opportunities and the concept for 2030 as a final product, to prepare the project definition for their future place and to seek out funding.
Depending on the internal capacity per coalition and the available resources that may be secured through additional funding, the time expenditure may be extended.
How do I apply on behalf of my organisation or coalition?
You can submit your application using a straightforward form, which may be completed either by hand or in digital form. Please do not forget to sign at the bottom of the form. Send in the completed form by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an additional attachment if need be.
Specify the subject line of your e-mail as follows: Brussels2030 – call for city makers – application – [name submitting organisation].
The form consists of a number of questions relating to:
- Practical details of the submitting organisation
- Which organisations the submitting organisation will or would like to work with
- In and out of which territory the (coalition of) submitting city maker(s) would like to work
- Which themes the (coalition of) submitting city maker(s) is looking to address
A coalition only needs to submit once, listing all organisations participating in the coalition in the same form. The lead organisation submitting is not considered the coalition’s lead throughout the process.
There is no limit on the number of organisations that can submit together as a coalition.
What does the Brussels2030’s guidance team look like?
The Brussels2030 guidance team consists of staff from Brussels2030 asbl, Architecture Workroom Brussels vzw (both of which are not-for-profit organisations) and the LoUIsE research centre (ULB).
The LoUIsE – Laboratory on Landscape, Urbanism, Infrastructures and Ecologies – focuses on the dynamics of transformations of metropolitan areas. Architecture Workroom Brussels is a cultural innovation organisation that works on the transformation of the social and physical environment.
The team offers the following guidance
- Guidance on the matchmaking, network building and community building
- Setting up and facilitating local site visits and workshops
- DIY toolkits to replace workshops
- Co-programming for the Summer Assembly
- One integrated representation of the shared analysis and imaginary 2030 as an artistic-cultural end product, incorporating all of the accompanied future places, in collaboration with (a) Brussels-based artists (n.t.b.)
- Guidance on seeking out funding and proactive search of co-financiers
- Guidance on the preparation of the project definition of the test if funding is confirmed
How do we go about selecting (coalitions of) city makers?
- After 14 March (deadline), the Brussels2030 team will process all applications. The team will consider where ‘matches’ between different candidates can be made, in consideration of themes or territory. This may involve local site visits.
- At the end of March, Brussels2030, Architecture Workroom Brussels and LoUIsE will meet with an outside jury to come up with a selection proposal. The outside jury will be made up of:
1. Tom Sanders (Perspective.Brussel)
2. Valérie Martino (Théâtre National)
3. Verena Lenna (VUB)
- The jury will asses the (newly formed) coalitions, not the individual candidates. The assessment will consist of a technical analysis (50%) and a qualitative evaluation (50%). For the technical analysis, points are awarded for each assessment criterion that is met. These points add up to a total of 50.
4. Using this rating system, the jury will arrive at a ranking of all the (newly formed) coalitions with their own future place that fetch the highest scores.
5. In early April, the team will contact the first 4 to 6 (newly formed) coalitions to invite them to an interview. These interviews will be held between 13 and 21 April and cover whether the (newly formed) coalition is prepared to get started, in which capacity and with which organisations. If not, the next (newly formed) coalitions on the ranking are to be contacted.
What happens if my organisation is not selected?
In case your organisation or coalition is not selected as a future place, you will have the opportunity to be part of Brussels2030’s wider city makers community. The form this will take on is still in the process of being shaped. This community will assume its own rightful seat at the Summer Assembly.
Why this open call? Surely so much is already happening in Brussels?
Indeed, Brussels is already brimming with cultural, artistic and socio-cultural dynamics and with a rich, active network of ‘city makers’ who are already taking a role in urban transformations today. We are therefore starting anything but from scratch.
Brussels2030 wants to contribute to the visibility and appreciation hereof, and further strengthen their contribution to societal changes in the city – in terms of climate, ecology, democracy and social justice. By preparing the urban terrain for these changes, experimenting with change using the urban environment as fertile ground, setting up the necessary coalitions that can jointly cultivate and influence the urban environment.
By (re)building places of the future, Brussels2030 wants to organise a joining of forces across different sectors through local coalitions of various organisations around concrete places. In these ’future places’, abstract social agendas can land and lead to concrete results on the ground.
Brussels2030 wants to work towards a network of future places all over Brussels by 2030 in which these current dynamics are also brought into relation with each other – if Brussels indeed becomes European Capital then. So Brussels2030 sees this joining of forces in 2030 on a much larger scale than just around a few future places. But we do not want to wait for that until we find out in 2027 whether Brussels will become Capital of Culture.
With this call and process, we are already testing the future places hypothesis on the ground, in the first few concrete places. In doing so, we are already strengthening some local coalitions and obtaining analyses and images that can serve as inspiration and insights for developing future places. We also obtain lessons and incipient dynamics that can help feed and strengthen the ‘bid book’ for the Brussels candidacy as Cultural Capital of Europe.
The open call builds on what is already happening and is therefore certainly open to initiatives and coalitions that already exist, or are about to start, and that see the added value of the participatory research and the Brussels2030 framework.
What results do we aim to deliver by the end of 2023?
In and around the open call, the guiding team, in collaboration with the local coalitions, will work towards:
- A cultural product per future place: a shared analysis of the future place and an imagination of what, how and with whom can be realised here, towards or by 2030.
- One atlas containing all future places. This atlas depicts a possible Brussels network of future places. The atlas highlights the shared analyses and images of guided future places, by way of inspiring prototypes. In addition, other potential future places towards 2030 are put on the map as well. It also forms an important part of the application dossier for the candidacy for the European Capital in 2030.
- Preparation and start-up of the realisation of first future places tests (foreseen in 2024).
Why a selection of only a few future places?
This 2023 trajectory is a small version of what could happen by 2030. Since guidance resources are limited, a selection is needed to provide meaningful guidance to the selected coalitions.
This does not mean that the trajectory does not currently have room for other future places and coalitions to be. These can be included in the atlas, and play an important role in the Summer Assembly and possible other programming where there is room for cross-fertilisation and support.
We are working towards a network of future places in 2030. These first selected future places will lead to lessons and ‘prototypes’ that can become meaningful in other places in Brussels. Through the publications and the programming, initiatives and coalitions that were not selected in the first call will still receive input and a stage. And may also find their way in other ways.
Help, the deadline is coming so soon. Will we be able to do this?
The open call certainly does not ask for an extensive project proposal, the application form is concise and can rather be seen as a declaration of intent. Further exploration and elaboration will come right afterwards.
With the guidance provided, we support the further development of the collaborative structure in case of a new coalition. With the participatory study in 2023, we jointly work on an analysis and imagination towards 2030. This feeds into a further developed project approach.
- You can submit with an existing coalition, or with partners you would like to work with in the future. Your coalition certainly does not have to be complete yet: it is possible to change the composition and involve the other parties during the process, for instance to increase diversity. You will be supported in this too.
- If you do not manage to form a coalition before the deadline, you can also apply as an individual organisation. In that case, we will try to link you up with (another) organisation(s) or coalition during the preparation of the jury.
- Finally, we would like to stress that you do not necessarily have to have a new project or coalition in mind. The open call also aims to valorise and strengthen what already exists. Do you feel you already have a collaboration or project running that connects with the idea of a future place? If so, you can submit (together) here.
Can temporary initiatives also participate? Do all future places have to live on in 2030?
Yes, temporary initiatives can also participate. Dealing with temporariness and structural impact will then become part of the research and further elaboration. A future place selected now can live on in different ways in the final Brussels2030 urban project, not only by being continued at the place itself.
How is this call positioned within the Brussels’ candidacy as the European Capital of Culture in 2030?
That the European Capital of Culture in 2030 will be a Belgian city has already been decided. The question is: which Belgian city will be selected? Cities wishing to apply must submit their proposal to European authorities as early as mid-2024.
Brussels2030 has been working hard since 2021 to develop a strong bid book. This has focused on three key questions:
- How can we build and shape Brussels together in the coming years?
- How can we dream, imagine and tell Brussels together by 2030, based on its super-diversity and its fragmentation?
- How can we democratize Brussels by 2030 by thinking and acting together?
This open call fits within the elaboration of the first question. In doing so, we strengthen local coalitions and obtain analyses and images that can serve as inspiration and insights for future places in the future. The resulting atlas is an important building block in the bid book. The open call also provides lessons on how to approach the Capital of Culture in 2030 – and for the meantime.
How did the open call come about?
At the beginning of their appointment, the mandate holders of the Brussels candidacy gathered around a group of relevant actors from Brussels around them, the ‘reflection room’. The three key questions on which Brussels2030 would focus were formulated here. For each of the three questions, one member of the reflection chamber would take the lead. Architecture Workroom Brussels was part of the reflection chamber, putting the importance of future places on the agenda and outlining an approach for this site.
Architecture Workroom Brussels did not do this alone. It approached a French-speaking partner to help develop the project, LoUIsE lab (ULB). Together we invited more than 30 individuals from the Brussels (socio-)cultural, artistic and spatial practice in an open working group. This working group met three times (June 2022 – September 2022). Together with the working group, we shaped the future places trajectory until mid-2024 – the anticipated moment of depositing the candidacy. The open call was also further refined together with the working group.
For the open call, we engaged in targeted discussions with a number of organisations that we thought would find it difficult to find their way to the call. We compiled a long list of 450 organisations to whom we also proactively communicated about the call. On 21 February, we organised two information sessions, open to all.
Stay tuned ↯
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