Open call: join us building the Brussels2030 city project

Brussels2030 is looking for organisations that want to make city together.

Help define what Brussels, as the European Capital of Culture, can mean for the city and its society by 2030.

Are you keen to help shape the city project on which Brussels2030 will build Brussels’ candidacy? Are you eager to help make the spaces in the city that will act as the working areas, playing fields and stages for a cultural and artistic Brussels by 2030 and beyond? Do you want to help make sure that, through these concrete places, we are able to let the societal transitions – in the areas of climate, ecology, social justice, sustainability and democracy - land on an inclusive footing? Then join us in creating a network of future places!

Deadline for the first round: 14th March 2023

Brussels and its city makers

Brussels is brimming with cultural, artistic and socio-cultural dynamics. At the same time, Brussels is home to an abundant and active network of ‘city makers’ who are already taking up roles ‘from below’ in unfolding the urban transformation(s), either directly or indirectly. Citizens’ initiatives assume strong positions with the aim of enhancing the city’s residents’ well-being and quality of life. Innovative users of space are setting up in vacant buildings and urban in-between spaces. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs are changing the way we consume or (locally) produce. Social-spatial activists are seen to adopt a thorough approach to water and energy management in the city. Nature organisations are working to secure space for biodiversity in the city. 

Cultural Brussels as a network of future places

Brussels2030 wants to appraise and make visible these existing bottom-up dynamics. We are looking to bundle the existing forces on a cross-sectoral basis and organise the various organisations as to strengthen their ability to write the city’s narrative. A city project that concerns everyone and connects different parts of the city, from the centre to the periphery, from east to west. In doing so, Brussels2030 is also keen to involve, through cultural production, city-makers ‘to be’ in setting the societal agendas. Brussels2030 wants to organise this joining of forces in the form of collaborations and local coalitions around concrete places: future places.

Future places are where abstract agendas take physical shape. These are buildings, neighbourhoods, streets, squares where societal transitions are put into practice, in the areas of care, solidarity, affordable housing, mobility, education, the redistribution of access to (public) spaces, the circular and productive economy, sustainable energy, water management, local food production, soil care and biodiversity. These places are the bedrock where current and future city makers and their partners have their roots, using the local surroundings as a seedbed to experiment with improving the daily living environment. A multiplicity of future places enables systemic change. Together, the future places give shape to an urban geography that forms the foundation of Brussels2030’s city project.

Participatory research in 2023, towards realisations in 2030

In concrete terms, in the first phase, we will be exploring the possible development of 6 to 12 future places together with the respective city makers (to be). Through participatory action research, we want to get a grip on the opportunities and challenges they see in the collective transformation of the living environment into a future place. In 2023, we will be working on a subjective cartography of the development opportunities of each future place. Along with the city makers (to be), we will work towards the creation of an imaginary of what the future places could be in 2030. From September, we will also assist the local coalitions in elaborating the next steps towards 2030 (e.g. organisational form and funding).

This fieldwork for each future place will contribute to a broader (city) narrative for Brussels2030. At the Summer Assembly in the summer of 2023, we will pool the insights for the various future places and present these to other experts and policymakers. Brussels2030’s artistic-cultural summer programme can serve as a framework to test and show ideas, as to start working towards the prefiguration of the city project. We set the agenda for the Brussels2030 city project and collectively write a place-based approach to the project of Capital of Culture. Together, we will build a robust framework for Brussels’ candidacy for the nomination as European Capital of Culture (to be submitted in summer 2024).

Are you a city maker (to be)?

Small or large, new to this kind of field or already a fixture in Brussels, professional or informal, we are happy to hear from you all – motivation and enthusiasm are what is most important. You can submit immediately with (a) (local) partner(s), but also as an individual organisation. A matchmaking with other city makers (to be) around the same place(s) is part of the process. Your organisation can submit using a simple, straightforward form. Together with an external jury, we will select 6 to 12 future places with local coalitions.

The candidatures are assessed on the basis of the organisation’s intention to:

• be part of a local coalition of city makers (to be)
• start from a spatial anchorage in Brussels, whether or not from a concrete place
• contribute to the urban project of the Brussels Region
• address different urban transitions
• diversify the engaged audiences

We also take into account geographical and thematic diversity in the selection.

Intrigued, but still have questions? Contact Maya Galle

The open call for projects and the Territory track are an initiative of Brussels2030, Louise Lab (ULB) and Architecture Workroom Brussels.

Watch the presentation of the info moment:

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Below are a number of fictitious examples of concrete experiments which could give rise to the elaboration of a future place in 2030, by way of inspiration and clarification:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

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. 

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.

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

  1. Start-up meeting: presentation of the coalition, introduction to other organisations, co-creation of the process
  2. Site visit per future place with all organisations involved
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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

  1. 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
  2. Guidance in the search for funding for the further elaboration and accomplishment of the project (test of the future place)
  3. 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

From October

Start-up of the realisation of the future places’ tests, depending on available funding

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. 

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.

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, 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.

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

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.  

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. 

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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