Monday 4th July – Re-wilding the garden city
The internship kicked off with an introductory lecture at Hostel H by Liesbeth Huybrechts, regarding what is to come in the week ahead. The group then took the train to Bokrijk where they collected their bikes for the week to travel in true Belgian style! The route traveled to get to the sites in Winterslag was through woodland with a well-earned break to enjoy the view of Cycling through the water. This cycle route gave the groups an understanding of mining practices with the node wayfinding systems reflecting those of historic mining navigation. This tour led the groups to each of their sites, giving them a greater understanding of the location and allowing for initial discussions to take place.They built bamboo structures to mark their presence on site, brining attention to the programme.
This was followed by a visit to each site from the social housing company which later developed into a discussion with members of the local community, since noticing our presence on sites. Allowing them to voice their personal concerns and frustrations with the living situation in the area.
The day was rounded up with a communal dinner and informal de-briefing at Barousel H.
Tuesday 5th July – Re-wilding the garden city
A trip to C-mine this morning included a guided tour of the disused coal mine and its’ adaptive reuse as a cultural center as well as admission to Balkrima Doshi’s Architecture for the People exhibition. This helped to underpin the understanding of the local area and the prominence of the mining industry in the creation of the garden city ideology found in the sites in Winterslag.
This was followed by the return to mapping of the individual groups sites, where sketches and ideas were collated to identify the existing problems, and look for areas for improvement.
The day concluded with a visit from an associate of 51N4E architectural practice, addressing the topic of ‘re-wilding’ through their master planning initiatives applied in Luxembourg. This sparked a thought provoking discussion on the social and political impacts of the architectural world and our responsibilities as designers.
Wednesday 6th July – Re-wilding the garden city
Groups returned to site this morning with materials selected yesterday to continue mapping and prototype development. This afternoon the groups were visited by the workshop leaders to pitch their concepts, opening a collaborative discussion for idea development, allowing them to gain a new perspective on their approach so far.
The different approaches taken by each group is really evident at this point in the workshop – highlighting the diversity within this area for the need of a specific, site relevant response as well as the effects of designing as completely independent groups.
The day ended with the lecture ‘Abundance through scarcity’ from Josymar Rodriguez. This narrated the projects of her architectural practice, providing really relevant inspiration for public space reuse through limited materials. This was followed by a communal dinner at Barousel H which included discussions on materiality and a de-briefing for all teams to plan their intervention construction for the rest of the week.
Thursday 7th July – Re-wilding the garden city
Today the students returned to site for their penultimate day of prototyping before presentation and handover tomorrow. Further sketches were produced to explain latest developments in each project. The construction of the interventions with bamboo and other chosen materials continued.
The groups received a visit from the rewilding rabbit to keep up the spirit of the project, and rabbit proof their interventions! This furthered community interest into the workshop and sparked and fun interaction between children and adults in the vicinity.
The day ended with some students joining one another for a meal in the city, enjoying the local frituur…
Friday 8th July – Re-wilding the garden city
The last day of the workshop, groups this morning applied advice given to them throughout the whole week and worked to finalise their interventions. This included the generation of their final mapping sketches and documentation. Participants shared lunchtime at the community center with ice creams where the rewilding rabbit made a second appearance! At 2pm final presentations began, starting with site 1 the groups had the chance to explain their thought process throughout the project and how they arrived at their proposals to the whole group – some even got the chance to test the interventions!
Each group got to see the work of the other teams which provided a nice insight into their peers’ activities of the week and their different approaches. The projects were then handed over to the community, with some as temporary chalk lined installations to encourage general acceptance of change and others as more permanent, features such as seating to be retained In the public realm.
Some students enjoyed their last evening together in the city with a pint of Belgian beer – a well-earned send-off to an busy week!