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A retroactive manifesto for Pic Nic the Streets: lessons in architecture and activism


When it comes to urban democracy it is dangerous to stare blind on the machinations of power and the creation of consent through consensus politics. It makes that discussions on democracy tend to drift away to the misty margins of society, where business negotiations in stylish board rooms are backed by brute police power. More important is the question how to re-imagine democracy in the neoliberal city. Let me tell you the history of Pic Nic the Streets. It was a civil movement shaking the very...
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Intervention at Rozebeke Cemetery by Wim Cuyvers: lessons in architecture and activism


Wim Cuyvers set up twenty tents overnight on the cemetery in Rozebeke, a subdistrict of Zwalm, within the pattern of the surrounding gravestones and at the same time showing absolute respect for the latest graves. This was part of 'Art and Zwalm 2007’, and was an extremely serious response to the organisers’ assignment: to transcend the boundaries of the artistic and examine the relationships between art and the local social, economic and geographical situation. The tents provide shelter for t...
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Stalker's Savorengo Ker, 'the house of all': lessons in architecture and activism


In studying the link between architecture and activism we cannot but take a close look at the ‘Savorengo Ker’ project of Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade. The title of the Savorengo Ker project reads as ‘The House of All’ in Romani language. The work is about a wooden chalet-like structure in the informal settlement Casilino 900, a non-authorised and non-equipped settlement of around 650 Roma people located in the outskirts of the City of Rome. The construction of the wooden chalet was done collecti...
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Towards a taxonomy of urban and architectural activism (a coaster for a course, a common ground)


To open our course on architecture and activism 2018 in a public manner, we publish a sketch that can function as a clear and short starting point, a common ground, this tiny text, can and  should grow during the course… Welcome! Besides reading theoretical texts (Butler, Doucet, Harvey, Guattari, Petrescu, ….), the students (you) will present cases from their countries/cities) and we will invite speakers for open classes and visit practices. Today we visit Reclycart. C’est parti!    Towards a...
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 (Special address to the joint doctoral seminar  On reproduction. Reimagining the political ecology of urbanism  Ghent, 09.02.2018 - proposal for 'curating the library of the ampersand' - [meaning the sign of & between Urbanism and Urbanisation in the interuniversity network of that name: U&U])   The term reproduction in the sense of the metabolism necessary for the maintenance of life, of humans, of the city, forms an integral part of productivism that was rampant in the industrial ag...
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From Hotel Central to Picnic the Streets: small panorama of urban activism in Brussels

[English translation of a text from 2014, originally published in Dutch on this blog] In the 80’s Brussels was a silent, slowly decaying city, having a hard time coping with the emptying out of the city (the so called ‘stadsvlucht’ or city flight of the 60’s-70’s) and the city didn’t seem to have a clue how to make the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial era. A London friend of mine was charmed by the slumbering metropolis of second and third order. ‘Let it slowly crumble’, was h...
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Reclaim the steps: A message to the population about the depoliticization of downtown Brussels.

For the students of P.A.R.T.S. (and translated by one of them) here a text on political public space and the neoliberal city. Friday 19 September 2014 by philosopher Lieven De Cauter…  There is no room any longer for politics at the stairs of the Beurs in Brussels. Protesters and activists are moved to less public spaces. “The most public space of Brussels, maybe even Belgium, a true amphitheater of political and social life in our country is being taken away from us”.  

 For many year...
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De bezetting van Hotel Central: katalysator van stadsactivisme in Brussel

In het kader van een reeks masterthesissen ‘Towards an Atlas of the Commons’ maken architectuurstudenten van het Departement Architectuur in Leuven sinds enige jaren onder begeleiding van Lieven De Cauter e.a. casestudies over stadsactivisme en andere praktijken, zoals kraken, protesten en stadstuinieren, in Brussel en elders.

Hier een case uit de masterthesis van Maarten Peeters over ‘de oerscène’ van het stadsactivisme in Brussel: de bezetting van Hotel Central. V...
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De ‘Commons’ als politiek paradigma? (voorzet voor een denkdag)

1. De commons zijn overal: lucht, taal, kennis, water, zijn in principe gemeengoed, maar vooral volkstuintjes, coöperatieven, kraakpanden, open source, creative commons, wikipedia, etc zijn commons. Veel is of kan een common zijn en dus wordt het snel vaag en verwarrend. ‘Commons’ wordt door de meeste auteurs gedefinieerd als een triade: een gemeenschappelijke ‘grondstof’, een gemeenschap en een protocol of praktijk om die gemeenschappelijke grondstof te beheren. Dus commons = commo...
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Definitions of Public Space as Common Space

Wim Cuyvers  In an article on museums as security space in the art magazine De Witte Raaf, the architect Wim Cuyvers (google him and his 'transgressive architecture') gave a series of definitions of public space that merit to be considered apart from their context and deserve to be translated, as they give a very unusual but inspiring content to concept of ‘public space’.   1. Public space is the opposite of private space, it is the opposite of privatized space. 2. He who priva...
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“Expanding Architecture”

 Answer to the question: what should the curriculum of a school in architecture look like? Lecture  for Architectura, the student organization of ETH Zürich, April 22  2015 Lieven De Cauter [extraordinarius]  “Philosophy has only topic: everything. And only one method: everything at one.” (From ‘Introductions to the present, a crash course in modernity’, the missing part of ‘Metamodernity for beginners’).    0. [prologue] Welcome to posthistory!   Architects should b...
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Het kasteel ontbloot. Over de infrastructuurwerken rond het Arenbergkasteel

Het kasteel is ontbloot. Het begon met het bouwen van een kantoortoren waarvan niemand gezien had dat hij zo zichtbaar zou zijn achter het kasteel en dan nu een grote parking vlak aan de zijkant van het kasteel, om van de rest van de werken nog maar te zwijgen. Een historische site, het 16de-eeuwse Kasteel van Arenberg, wordt zonder pardon geofferd aan de explosie van spin offs. Maar vooral die parking is pijnlijk. Om bij te vloeken en te wenen. Zijn plaatsing is discutabel, ja onve...
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In our series on contagious alternatives, concrete utopias, paradigmatic cases, positive news, actions to learn from, small revolutions or revolutions in reverse, here an Indian Avatar (see pictures underneath!)… A fairytale for activists, an example to feed upon concerning this most urgent of issues: the defense of the commons… by Ranjani Balasubramanian In the dense forested heartland of India is the state of Odisha. Extending from the beautiful Eastern coast of India along t...
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For Petra, Thierry, Louisa, Andrea, Ruth, Abdel, Mo-Mo, Supermarcel, Tessa, Driss, Aline and all the others. (As well an open letter to Hart Boven Hard and even Bart De Wever) This summer, a tiny public park, situated on a railroad bed behind the mighty Thurn & Taxis-site, was one of the most beautiful places of Brussels: Parckfarm. The artificial railroad valley, situated in a bend on the border between Laeken and Molenbeek and crossed by three old bridges, monuments with all...
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Dagboek van een salonrevolutionair (II)

De terugkeer van de vooruitgang (Open brief aan Bart De Wever) notitie ca. medio oktober  Laat het ons eens over vooruitgang hebben. Vooruitgang was een van de grondwoorden van de moderniteit. Het vooruitgangsgeloof was een van de belangrijke verhaalstructuren, bijna mythisch quasi religieuze narratieven die de moderniteit aandreven. Kant vond het woord Forttschritt uit, maar met het einde van de grote verhalen over vooruitgang en emancipatie zoals de Franse filosoof Jean Franço...
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