CITIES, URBANITY AND URBAN INTERVENTIONS”
City Mine(d), Bureau de Micro-Urbanism and a consortium of university departments (School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford - COSMOPOLIS, City, Culture & Society, Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Centre de Recherche Urbaine, Université Libre de Bruxelles) took initiative to organize the Bruxel Glocal conference on “Cities, Urbanity and Urban Interventions” in Brussels.
The conference had in the outset three goals.
The first goal was to foster a culture of open debate with all stakeholders on the social, cultural, economic and architectural fabric of Brussels. The wide range of national and international speakers (31 different interventions) and the high profile venue Palais de Beaux Arts (Centre for Fine Arts) helped to attract an audience of over 300 persons from different backgrounds and sectors in Brussels, as well as individuals active in other cities of Belgium and, well beyond (France, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom). Nevertheless, we observed the absence of several crucial governmental bodies in Brussels.
The second goal of the conference was to assess critically innovative and/or experimental methods for urban interventions used in the field. The idea of the conference was inspired by the observation that in Brussels (and other cities) something innovative in urban development is brewing. We define it as Urban Interventions that target strategically a micro geographic scale - such as a square, a group of houses- to have a positive impact on the development at another, often larger, scale. They aim to create a third space between different groups in friction and to transform the dominant or hegemonic urban regime. The morning session of the conference with interventions of Erik Swyngedouw University of Oxford (The Politics of Scale of GLOCAL Urban Interventions), Patsy Healey University of Newcastle (Creativity, Governance and the Public Sphere) and Michael Keith, Goldsmiths University of London (Le Droit à la Ville and the Transnational Urban) scrutinized profoundly the three components -glocal, third space and urban regime change- of our definition of glocal urban interventions. Also, the intervention of Tristan Wibault (artist) illustrated concretely in the field the definition of urban intervention with the case of the Univeral Embassy.
The third aim of this conference was to evaluate critically the feasability and desirability to form glocal coalitions in Brussels. Josep Acebillo, Chief Architect of the City of Barcelona, made the tensions in the conference tangible when he explained the case of Barcelona and the formation of glocal coalitions for acupunctural interventions as a formal policy instrument. In Brussels is the formation of glocal coalitions generally seen as a tool for urban movements and -activists. Subsequently in the conference, unique testimonies from Brussels (such as LimiteLimite, Euclides, Le Gazon / Radio BOEPS, Souterrain Production) as cases in other cities (such as Crimson, Exodus Collective, Centro Popolare Autogestito in Firenze, The Centro Sociale Leoncavallo) highlighted time after time the potentiality to empower citizens by means of glocal interventions and the fundamental differences between glocal coalition formation as a formal policy of a government or as a tool for social innovation of urban movements.
The last part of the conference was an open debate between different key actors from different sectors in Brussels. The debate and the conference overall highlighted the need for debate and "glocal" effort to reclaim the social, cultural and physical fabric of the city. Will be continued!
A report with all presentations in MP3-format will soon be available at www.citymined.org
Erik Swyngedouw, University of Oxford
Matthieu Voets, administratie Welzijn en Gezondheid Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (Het Stedenfonds)
Patsy Healey, University of Newcastle
Tristan Wibault, arti(e)st (Universal Embassy)
Josep Acebillo, Chief Architect of the City of Barcelona
François Thiry, Chief-Editor, A+ Magazine
Lieven De Cauter, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Pieter Uyttenhove, Universiteit van Gent
Mark Saunders, Spectacle - Glenn Jenkins, Exodus Collectif
Steven Degraeve, Centrum Voor Sociale Stadsontwikkeling, LimiteLimite
Jim Segers, City Mine(d) – London, City Mine(d)
Dema, Souterrain Production
José Menéndez, Euclides
Eric Corijn, COSMOPOLIS Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Nicolas, Gazon / Radio Boups
David Jamar, Centre de Recherche Urbaine, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Andrea Membretti, Università di Pavia (The Centro Sociale Leoncavallo)
Lorenzo Tripodi, University of Florence
Gwenaël Breës, Cinema Nova
Frédéric Jacquemin, Fondation Marcel Hicter
Paul Dujardin, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten -Palais des Beaux-Arts
Stefan Decorte, COSMOPOLIS, City, Culture & Society, Vrije Universiteit Brussel;
An Van Damme, Jeugd en Stad
Chille Deman, Coordinator Brusselse Federatie van Huurdersverenigingen