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© Bob van Mol

With Pascal Smet (Brussels-Capital Region), Panos Mantziaras (Fondation Braillard Architectes/Luxembourg in Transition), Katrien Rycken (Leuven 2030), Sofie van Bruystegem (City Mine(d)), Dimitri Crespin (Brusseau) and Maarten Roels (Terre-en-vue); moderated by Roeland Dudal and Joachim Declerck (Architecture Workroom Brussels).

A conversation with Dirk Somers, Koen Wynants, Nadia Casabella, Mike Emmerik, Hanne Mangelschots, Denis Cariat, Alessandro Rancati, Lene De Vrieze and Joachim Declerck.

Many challenges converge in the street. Although they are often linked to different policy domains and competences, they land in the same space. In many pioneering projects, we see that they start from one specific challenge. For example, the air quality at the school gates, or the desire for extra meeting and playing space during the summer months.
The climate street as a lever
The climate street as a lever
© 2020

The fact that the green spaces in the city, such as at the foot of trees in the street, have to be neatly and professionally maintained is something that few people think about. Lieven provides an insight into the impact of the greening of streets on the management activities of the Parks Department - and the way in which citizens can enjoy this 'self-evident process’.

How do we improve the energy performance of our building stock in a collective and affordable way, not only to reduce CO2 emissions and achieve our sustainability goals, but also to increase local entrepreneurship and improve the quality of living?

This map showing the built environment in the Brussels – Flanders region, illustrates the size of the challenge for the collective renovation needed in order to tackle the energy question.

Electrician Simon takes a practical look at the energy problem. What is needed to heat a home sustainably? He highlights the challenge that lies ahead of us to make society energy-neutral on a large scale. His conclusion: the right individual choices make a difference, but even more important is that those choices are made as soon as possible and by as many people as possible at the same time.

In the research and publication 'De Lage Landen 2020-2100. A Future Outlook', the concept of "energy districts" is proposed from a spatial analysis and hypothesis for the renewable energy transition.

On the basis of a series of stakeholder tables with architects, local politicians, developers, energy cooperatives and experts, a recommendation for a space and energy policy was formulated, which states that a neighbourhood approach can be the lever for the realisation of the energy transition.

How do we organise a new interplay between land position and land use to create more space for healthy, profitable and affordable food production in a climate-resistant landscape?

The Food Parks Investment Programme focuses on new types of cooperation between farmers without land guarantees and landowners. What are the specific and successful frameworks for cooperation? What kind of exchanges take place? And what do governments, citizens and flanking organisations bring to the table?

This presentation describes the what and why of the Food Parks Investment Programme. The document served as a basis for initial discussions with various actors.

Major challenges and ambitious plans are emerging thick and fast. But how do we shift from 'paper' analyses and intentions to achieving structural and qualitative changes in our neighbourhood, society and economy? How do we overcome this together?

The Rolling Climate Fund provides low-threshold loans to citizens so they can make their homes energy efficient in a single process. Economist Koen explains that because monthly savings on energy bills are higher than the repayments, a comfortable home is also within reach for people on a lower income.

Sophie is a Hero for Zero: she advocates for zero road fatalities and serious casualties in the streets of Brussels. It not only involves road safety, but also laying claim to the public space. To create a city that prioritises soft road users and social life above the flow of vehicles.

Commons Lab is an Antwerp citizen initiative set up in 2018, involving shared use without ownership, but with proper agreements. A common, Koen says, which started with a communal rain barrel - but now has a portfolio that extends to the city level.

Solar panels and local green energy for any budget, big or small. In Sint Amandsberg, near Ghent, the Buurzame Stroom city programme makes it possible for Els and her fellow residents to benefit too - without boosting gentrification.

On the 28th of April in the Brussels Northern District a Walking Workshop has been organised. This was positioned within the framework of the Coordination Platform Energy, initiated by the City of Brussels and in collaboration with 3E and Architecture Workroom Brussels. The walk had the ambition to explore and harvest the specific local potentialities and needs to start envisioning a comprehensive and integrated process to build a Positive Energy District in this peculiar neighbourhood.

© Bob Van Mol

CSA farmer Ronny reveals how the Community Supported Agriculture model already guarantees his income at the beginning of the harvest season – his private customers pay a membership fee and jointly bear the risks. However, rocketing land prices in the outskirts of the city represent a significant obstacle for new farmers, regardless of the earnings model.

Livestock farmer Kurt has succeeded in establishing a number of win-win partnerships with nature organisations and fruit growers in the area, based on a vision that farming practices are part of a multilayered landscape.

Cultureghem stands for a fundamental social approach to food for urban dwellers, based on a simple key principle: access to healthy and affordable food for all. Under Yannick’s leadership the organisation contributes to a vibrant public space in one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods of Brussels.

A group of local residents in the Ghent district of Rabot won their battle against the construction of a car park in their area and set up a communal garden on the site instead. The inner area containing 24 kitchen gardens now forms a green space for neighbourhood encounters, explains Bernadette, catalyst behind the project.