The spatial mirror, reflections and reflexes in collective place-making

The spatial mirror, reflections and reflexes in collective place-making.

An elective course for master students at the Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven, campus Sint-Lucas Brussel.


An action based design and research studio

to debate / experiment / exchange / co-produce / participate /

criticise / construct / occupy / question / manifest / act / etcetera…

toward open urbanism in Brussels.

During one semester, a mix of international students comes together to explore what participatory design can be, both for the city as for themselves as architects to-be. The Josaphat site in Brussels and its self-organized community-based initiatives form the ground around which several challenges evolve.


1/.            What inspires you?

2/.            Tell me your story.

3/.            How do you relate?

4/.            Map !

5/.            What is at stake?

6/.            Now and then.

7/.            Manifest.


What would you, as architect and as human being, propose as an ad hoc intervention for this hidden land? How could this affect its planned future as new densely build neighborhood?

These questions trigger a variety of creative and critical design interventions. The ‘Universal Alphabet’ (Teodora & Nikoletta) take on a consultation approach. Through playing with words and languages they reach out to various stakeholders. An intuitive, yet strongly informed development process is the outcome of this approach. Others let themselves get overwhelmed by the hidden qualities of this place and intervene in a soft and embedded manner (Marisa & Oahn). The boys (Matthias & Nicolas), use their position as external actor and disrupt the status quo through playful and provocative gestures.

As two internationals, part of this multi-cultural collage, we were impressed. Through our work we researched whether the participatory approach towards the design and build practice of our cities could be applied as the missing link between the superdiverse environment of Brussels and its future urban development.

– the Universal Alphabet

Students: Nicholas Jacobs, Teodora Stefanova, Nikoletta Daniil, Oanh Nguyen,

Marisa Borabo, Marika Piekarczyk, Matthias Verhoene, Jessica Alarcón

Teachers: Hanne Van Reusel in coordination with Dag Boutsen & Prof. Johan Verbeke


Part of the doctoral research of Hanne Van Reusel (KU Leuven) and Incubators of Public Spaces, a JPI Urban Europe research project. Funded through Innoviris

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