Ongoing project

Permanent Brussels (BE)

Permanent is a practice-based research with the aim to develop an infrastructure for permanently affordable and embedded social and cultural space in Brussels. By investigating alternative understandings of ownership and by looking into new legal and financial models proposed by cooperatives and other “commoning” initiatives, Permanent wants to develop this much-needed infrastructure in Brussels without contributing to a process of gentrification and profit-driven urban development.

In recent years, commercial and public sector actors have resorted to instrumentalizing the temporary use of empty spaces with increasing enthusiasm. It has grown from being an opportunity for artists, community workers, and citizens initiatives to a targeted tool for policymakers and real estate developers.

A group of artists in Brussels increasingly felt the need to take matters into their own hands and to distance themselves from this instrumentalization. Together, they formed the Permanent workgroup, to develop a sustainable and permanent infrastructure for artistic creation in Brussels, as an alternative to the nomadic temporary use of space.

Since artists’ requirements for space often unintentionally compete with other groups — such as undocumented migrants, social workers, or small urban producers, whose existence often depends to a large extent on access to that space — a crucial starting point is the principle of solidarity with other groups that are also gradually being driven out of the city.

Permanent strives for radical solidarity and collaboration with other groups excluded by speculative urban development schemes. It proposes a building program that complements artistic workspaces with public and safe space infrastructure as well as affordable homes for people with limited means, installing new networks of solidarity that go beyond its bubble.

Team Brussels will develop a public campaign around some crucial sites in Brussels, which they identified as exemplary for a potential anti-speculative, mixed-use, and socially equitable urban development. The campaign will put to use artistic practices to undertake interventions in the public space and opinion with the aim to interrupt and question current processes of development.

“In this way, we hope to open up space and time to imagine and experiment with bottom-up alternatives.”

Parallel but not detached from this line of action, the team will develop our knowledge about these complex social, urban, architectural, financial and legal constellations by setting up, hosting and activating a knowledge pool of specialists in each of these fields. With these specialist we will organize several workshops on ownership, legal and financial models in order to formulate some tools that can be used in common.