BEL:EST – A Laboratory for Europe in Brussels
Estonian and Belgian architects working on how to improve the city of Brussels
In April 2017, architects from 5 Estonian and 5 Belgian architecture offices take a deep dive into a number of urban design and architecture problems that the city of Brussels faces every day. The issues they explore were selected using expertise from Belgian as well as Estonian side. The architects look at how to improve the security of critically important buildings in the city, how urban planning and architecture could support a more coherent society, how a more digital society might change the physical city around us, etc. The conclusions and solutions – site-specific to locations in Brussels – offered by the five teams of architects will form the core of an exhibition titled “BEL:EST A Laboratory for Europe in Brussels”.
The exhibition will be opened during the Tallinn Architecture Biennale TAB 2017 in Estonia, September 2017. After that, the exhibition will travel to Brussels, BOZAR, to present the case studies and spatial proposals to the Brussels’ public, opening on the 23rd of November, 2017. The exhibition is curated by Aet Ader (b210), produced by BOZAR and Estonian Centre of Architecture, and dedicated to the Estonia 100 centenary celebrations and Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
1/ EU symbolic presence
The sheltering of European institutions in a generic business district in the Leopold area fails to communicate anything about European values and democracy. The Berlaymont building, the only building that gradually gained emblematic value, was irrevocably mutilated during the last renovation campaign. How can architectural, urban or landscape interventions compensate for this symbolic deficit and lack of imagination? What programs, typologies and forms can be implemented in a relevant way through a European project? And where?
The public space between the main sites of the European institutions, situated in the so-called Maelbeek valley, is currently fragmented. However, it is precisely in this area that the creation of a coherent and inspiring plan can contribute to a renewed image of the European project. How can we solve this problem through urban surgery?
Security measures have an increasing influence on the organization and accessibility of the various institutions, often claiming public space for specialized security buildings. Do we need to incorporate these security perimeters as much as possible into buildings or simply give it a presence in the city? How do designers deal with this issue?
Thanks to advanced electronic treatment of administrative processes – a competence in which Estonia has emerged as a leader in recent years – we can expect an overload of office space becoming available on the market in the upcoming decades. What consequences does this have for the European institutions and the district in which many administrative services are housed? How can architects and designers deal with this fact?
5/ Mirror of Europe
With its demographic composition and geographical distribution across the different districts of Brussels, the capital of Europe is often compared to a miniature version of the Europe of regions and nation-states. On a relatively small area many communities cohabit, with a diversity of cultures and languages. How can architecture and urbanism respond to this diversity?
Workshop in BOZAR, Brussels
24-27th April 2017
Tallinn Design and Architecture Gallery
Pärnu maantee 6, Tallinn, Estonia
BOZAR/ Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels
Ravensteinstraat 23 1000 Brussels, Belgium