How We Started Thinking Urbanism for Tomorrow in Brussels

‘Close your eyes, and take a deep breath… Imagine yourself in 2040, in Brussels. Who are you surrounded by? How does your environment look like? How do you get around the city? What are the sounds you hear?’

It started like this, with the smooth voice of our dear friend Timothée. Within a few seconds, everybody was wandering around the future Brussels of their dreams. In the room, we could feel the incredibly powerful positive vibes emerging from a group full of hope.

Throughout the three hours that lasted the event, different sessions have succeeded one another. Each one allowed you to address the crowd and deliver a message. The ‘Open Stage’ seemed to be the toughest exercise, since you had only 60 seconds to pitch your project. What amazed us, is the unfailing motivation you showed.

The collective intelligence session that followed gave room to smaller groups to bring up specific issues regarding urbanism. That moment was also about imaging solutions and acknowledging the obstacles.

‘How to bring democracy in the space we live? We need to build solutions in a bottom-up way and provide common ground and direction altogether’ was one main issue that came up in several groups. Mutualizing space and get civil society to be organized (and not constrained) seems to emerge as a #1 solution to improve life in the city. The mentality shift in how we perceive space is at the core of the topic of urbanism. We discussed the (lack of) efficiency of public transport, the possibility to create shared spaces gathering multiple activities.

In the ‘tech’ discussion, we talked about a way to make tech energy-saving instead of energy-consuming. Access to Open Data was also raised as an important challenge for this century. There seems to be a lack of transparency from the public service and it is a shortcoming that limits the horizon for R&D, thus digging the digital gap.

Discussing about ‘wellness’ was eye-opening. It seems like wherever we come from in the world and regardless the socio-economic situation, the need for social interaction is a core issue. ‘We need to reclaim time and space for ourselves’ says Koen. Time is a notion tightly linked to space and if changes need to be done in terms of spatial structure, it’s also central for citizens to get rid of the timing pressure. Basic income was seen as a first and global solution to implement.

To sum up, this event showed that the need to rethink public spaces is urgent. It also showed that the solutions are countless and that you’re all eager to take part in a reframing the current context.

Raising citizen engagement in the era of smartcities and post-nation cities is crucial. We extracted the main challenges for urbanism in Brussels, together with experts and citizens. We’ll make sure the most upvoted challenges find concrete solutions.

Read and engage further by clicking here, on our OpenWall.

This article was written by Kahina Meziant.