project strategy drawing

March 26, 2007


Brussels has a history of problematic modernisation in which several large scale urban master plans have been imposed on the city. These positivist plans have created mono-functional zones that are only populated for part of the day by a one dimensional set of users. Increasingly these spaces are controlled and privatised by the corporations that inhabit them. Alongside the sterilised zones Brussels also has a significant number of abandoned post industrial landscapes. These brown fields are contaminated and neglected but often support a subculture of users that have no space in the developed city.

These contrasting typologies of residual space in Brussels present a challenge to future urban development: How can the mono-functional zones be diversified and made more public? How can the post industrial sites be developed without destroying the quality of their history or excluding the marginalised sectors of society they support?

The project strategy is based on the concept of ‘Urban Set Aside’. I have proposed a scenario in which a subsidised land use condition is established to encourage temporary users to inhabit the residual areas of the city. The ‘soft program’ of temporary use is intended to offer a flexible and reversible planning tool to diversify mono-functional city zones and suggest new uses for the areas of the city currently in decay.

There are different typologies of Urban Set Aside:

Temporary Reuse: Empty or derelict building shells offer potential shelter for temporary users. Reversible construction techniques and low impact restorations can maintain the structural and historical integrity of a building without fixing a programme for it long term use.

Temporary Replace: Derelict sites that are situated in close priximity to inhabited spaces are prime locations for temporary use. Temporary cultural and community programmes can be inserted into these “gap sites” to regenerate the perception of the area and to suggest new futures for the location.

Temporary Reprogamme: Empty or temporarily vacant office space in monofunctional business zones is a resource that could be harnessed by alternative programmes. Temporary occupation of these spaces could increase diversity and fill time gaps in use patterns.

Temporary Interventions: Ephermeral occupations such as markets, performances and sporting events can act as strategic catalysts for changing the perception of an area. Interventions can be employed as a political statement to challenge the current situtation.

I propose the development of a material strategy for Make:Shift to support these different ways of inhabiting residual areas temporarily.


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