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Building Beyond

Collective Strategies for Just Cities


➝ Not in Brussels? Follow the Permanent Summer School Building Beyond livestream on Twitch.

We are currently witnessing an emergence of collective infrastructures in Europe, based on solidary, cooperative and anti-speculative development models and visions, to produce more fair and affordable work- and living spaces for communities often overlooked. It’s a reaction on decades of entrepreneurial governance with cities primarily catering to the needs and aspirations of middle and upper classes. Affordable homes, social infrastructures and locally rooted facilities are either being pushed out of the city or are put up against each other in their quest for space. Artists and the cultural industries more widely are both drivers and victims of these urban development dynamics, playing an instrumental role in projects of temporary use and urban regeneration but also being among the first who have to relocate following a development phase.

In the three-day long summer school Building Beyond: Collective Strategies for Just Cities Permanent will take stock of different voices, experiences and practices of sharing and commoning within changing urban settings. A diverse range of actors from across Europe and beyond gather for dialogue and conversations, both with each other and with the artist-initiated project of Permanent Brussels that aims to develop a mixed-use infrastructure for housing, artists’ studios, educational spaces and community facilities in Brussels on collectively owned land.

• Permanent is a practice-based research project and collaboration between Level Five/Hactiris, Globe Aroma, VUB/Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, VUB/We.Konekt and Community Land Trust Brussels. They are joined by a collective of Brussels-based architects AHA, Czvek Rigby, and Architect Laura Muyldermans. Permanent is also an Actors for Urban Change and receives the support of BWMSTR Label, Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, Flemish Community and Flemish Community Commission (VGC).


THURSDAY 9/09: Beyond Property

How to move from property (real estate as commodity for speculation, individually claimed and monetised) to alternative understandings of ownership (owning space through usage/labour, owning as a sense of belonging and being)? In what ways can we develop ownership models that blur the lines between private and public realms and that successfully navigate individual and collective concerns?

09:15 > 09:30 introduction: Permanent Brussels

09:30 > 10:15 talk: Polyak Levente – The Multiple Degrees of Ownership: Organising, Governing and Funding the Cooperative City

Starting from the context of real estate speculation and financialisation, the lecture investigates various forms and intermediate zones between public, private and community ownership, before exploring a set of legal, governance and funding models to support non-speculative development initiatives. Levente Polyak is urban planner, researcher, community advocate and policy adviser. He has worked on urban regeneration programmes for the New York, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Budapest municipalities.

10:30 > 12:15 short presentations + roundtable discussion (moderator: Polyak Levente)
w/ Daniela Bershan, Christoph Pennig, Andrea Verdecchia, Verena Lenna, joined by Levente Polyak, moderated by Permanent

reserve your ticket for the morning session

[12:30 > 14:00 lunch]

14:00 > 16:00 Situating the School: Walks & Talks:

During a selection of thematic walks for which we split up in small groups, guided by different hosts, we ground our conversations in Brussels' urban realities. Mathieu Van Criekingen, professor of urban geography at the Université libre de Bruxelles, takes us on a walk centred on gentrification, his main study topic. Artists Ronny Heiremans & Katleen Vermeir walk us through the complicity between water, cultural infrastructure and real estate. Geert De Pauw, coördinator of Community Land Trust Brussels, leads us to affordable housing projects and other community initiatives developed as a response to the housing crisis. Finally, urban (sound) researcher Caroline Claus takes us along the Brussels L28 railroad line. → reserve a Walk & Talk by clicking on a name 

Note: we all gather at the entrance of Kaaistudio’s. For those joining the walk of Ronny Heiremans & Kathleen Vermeir, please prepare an additional € 6 as the walk includes a short roundtrip by waterbus.

18:00 - lecture: Nishat Awan – Architectures of Displacement (& forms of non-belonging)

How can we make space for other inhabitations? How can we think architecture beyond building and towards spatial relations? Nishat Awan will discuss these issues in relation to displacements, diasporas and migration within and beyond Europe. Nishat Awan’s research focuses on the intersection of geopolitics and space, including questions related to diasporas, migration and border regimes. She is interested in modes of spatial representation, particularly in relation to the digital and the limits of witnessing as a form of ethical engagement with distant places.

reserve your ticket for the evening lecture

­FRIDAY 10/09: Beyond Type

What kind of spatial conditions do commoning and mixed-use infrastructures require? How to design for certain activities and bodies that are often excluded from urban development, without pushing people inside existing architectural typologies that come with ideological imprints and regimes of control? How can we design beyond type for these kinds of activities, also to push our understanding on what architectural form can be and do? Can we also design shared spaces that can be appropriated and that allow for regimes of invisibility and inaccessibility, and as such bypass the cliché of shared spaces as hypervisible spaces?

09:15 > 09:30 introduction — Permanent Brussels
09:30 > 10:15 lecture — Khensani De Klerk

Khensani de Klerk is an architectural designer and planner from Johannesburg. She centres practicing intersectionality through research and practice. She is the co-director of Matri-Archi(tecture) which is a collective based between South Africa and Switzerland that aims to empower African women as a network dedicated to African spatial education

10:30 > 12:30 short presentations + roundtable discussion:
/w Ola Hassanain, Jana Nakhal, Luce Beeckmans, Ken De Cooman, joined by Khensani de Klerk and Nishat Awan, moderated by Permanent
reserve your ticket for the morning session

[12:30 >14:00 lunch]

14:00 > 17:00 Zooming in: 2 Brussels Cases: Designing Beyond Type

Through two cases, Permanent Brussels and Globe Aroma, we collectively discuss the spatial renditions of complex shared and mixed grassroot developments more in-depth. 

CASE 1: Permanent Brussels: Design workshop
A Collective Attempt to Draw an Inventory of Experience: designing radical hospitality
facilitated by Laura Muyldermans, Els Silvrants-Barclay & Selçuk Balamir

 For the last year, Permanent's research has taken the central fire station in the North Quarter as its main site of action, imagining a future building programme and ownership model shared amongst different partners and community actors, that is also open to its surroundings (both in material and immaterial terms). But how to be in-it-together without being considered one-and-the-same? How to be ‘open’ and ‘accessible’ without exposing or imposing? How, in other words, to design a hospitable building through the acknowledgement of difference and multiplicity? Starting from a brief observation- and drawing action in the area around the fire station, we will move to a collective design session focusing on the façade as the threshold space between the buildings’ inner- and outer lives. How to translate the uses, practices and realities we see into actual design, exploring how design can be a tool for new kinds of public-ness and hospitality? Meeting point: outside Kaaistudio’s reserve for this workshop

CASE 2: Globe Aroma: Presentation and discussion
Infrastructures of Urban Inclusion​: the role of space sharing, coalition building and action research in facilitating newcomers' inclusion in Brussels
facilitated by Luce Beeckmans, Viviana d'Auria, Tasneem Nagi, Dounia Salamé, Heleen Verheyden in collaboration with Globe Aroma

Based on the concrete case of Globe Aroma, this interactive session will probe into the ways in which typological considerations, ownership-based constraints and conventional participatory processes may be transcended in order to upkeep a meaningful position as arrival infrastructure in the Brussels city centre. By joining the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to concretely explore - especially through mapping - the potentials and consequences of moving beyond type, property and participation in an urban context where innovative scenarios are required to combat processes of gentrification and socio-cultural homogenisation. Meeting point: Kaaistudio theatre spacereserve for this workshop

SATURDAY 11/09: Beyond Participation

How to organise grassroots urban governance beyond ‘good intentions’ and beyond participation as a token? How to set up meaningful dialogue and collaboration within complex urban processes across differences and inequalities, and how to acknowledge these differences without othering? How to translate progressive and radical positions into actual tangible solutions for the better, without being instrumentalized or instrumentalizing others? 

09:15 > 09:30 introduction
09:30 > 10:15 lecture – Darinka Czischke

Darinka Czischke is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. In 2014 Dr Czischke was awarded the Delft Technology Fellowship to develop her research on Collaborative Housing.

10:30 > 12:30 short presentations + roundtable discussion (Moderator: Yasminah Beebeejaun)
w/ Paul Citron (Platform Urbain), Olivier Marboeuf, Darinka Czischke, Communitism, Selçuk Balamir

reserve your ticket for the morning session

[12:30 - 14:00 lunch]

14:00 > 17:00 workshops

Workshop 1: Making (Civil) Space for Art, in between Communities, State and Market
facilitated by Kunstenpunt (Flanders Arts Institute)
reserve a spot for this workshop

The search for affordable space with a long-term perspective in the arts always takes place in a sphere of forces between the government, the construction and real estate sector and the initiative of artists and citizens. Kunstenpunt has analysed these complex interactions by investigating 10 cases (Co-Post, Casco, AAIR, Endeavour, Werkplaats Walter, Post Collective, Nucleo, Commons Josaphat, Zeezin, Permanent), and has developed a diagram to make these interactions, in which sustainable and affordable alternatives are developed, readable. 

- framework on affordable and long term perspective by use of cases (Dirk De Wit)
- presentation of one case in depth: Casco Leuven (Mirthe Demaerel)
- lessons learned (about availability and instrumentalisation) and introduction to the diagram 'government-market-community' (Simon Leenknegt)
- questions and debate
- deepening of subthemes in working groups

A workshop for professionals in arts and culture, social sector, law, politics, city administration, architecture, real estate, social economy...

Workshop 2: Space Matters: An exercise of spatial facilitation to govern plural ownership
by Verena Lenna within the framework of gE.CO Living Lab
reserve a spot for this workshop

What is the impact of space and the architectural project when addressing a hybrid and plural approach to ownership? How is governance shaped by space? Space Matters is an exercise of imagination, a simulation concerning the fulfilment of rights and the distribution of responsibilities, supported, contained and defined by the spatial characteristics of the resource we hold in common. A model, informative and playful, will allow to become aware of and to facilitate the conversation about the interweaving of the different functions and the capabilities of the concerned users and communities to take care of their resources.

gE.CO Living Lab is an exchange platform for formal groups or informal communities of citizens who manage fab-lab, hubs, incubators, co-creation spaces, social centres created in regenerated urban voids. 

organized by Permanent Brussels & Brussels Centre for Urban Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | in collaboration with Dept. of the Ongoing/Chair An Fonteyne (Dept. of Architecture, ETH Zürich) & Kaaitheater

LANGUAGE : English