As part of the SmallTalk series, a public evening was held on 22 March 2022 in the Atelier Bouwmeester as a result of the study 'New sources of encounters in the city', for which B-architecten received the Bouwmeester Label. After our presentation of possible new water locations in Borgerhout, initiatives from other cities were discussed as well.
This event has ended, but you can watch the video of this SmallTalk here.
By means of design research, B-architecten want to create a new, integrated urban meeting space where neighbourhood residents can come together informally. Since time immemorial, water has been a reason to come together, but many water elements have disappeared from the cities. At the same time, we are faced with an impending water shortage and have to devise solutions to facilitate the collection and use of rainwater.
The combination of both tasks led to the following research question: how can we reintroduce meeting places around water in public urban space, where people like to come together and become more aware of the impending water shortage? B-architecten set to work in Borgerhout, where their offices are located and where the old Vuilbeek runs underground. They took the vanished watercourse as the starting point, guiding principle or foundation for a master plan. In carefully selected places along the obliterated route, the surface is punctured acupuncturally. Sometimes the water actually becomes visible again, elsewhere it is symbolised, depending on the social status and morphology of the place. In this way, the absent water is reintroduced in the form of various meeting spaces, which can promote social cohesion. Subsequently, they zoomed in on four sites with different statuses: a private inner area, a semi-private site, a public space and a semi-public site. On the basis of simple sketch proposals, the designers stimulate the imagination for future water sites.
On 22 March, World Water Day, B-architecten explained their research. Subsequently, Intercommunale Leiedal and vzw City mine(d) talked about their initiatives, where water and encounters also play a central role. The perspectives of the designer, the client and the citizen were all discussed. From these examples, we debated with the public on how we can and should link the various water challenges to meeting people.