The metabolism approach assumes that every city is a complex, sprawling and active system that is unceasingly working to provide for the needs of its occupants. We can describe this system not just in technical or purely physical terms, but also in organic terms. Just as a human body breathes, drinks, eats, uses its senses, and excretes waste, so vital material flows (such as water, energy, food, cargo and people) can be identified and analysed in the "body" of the city, its metabolism. When designing with flows, the city is no longer seen as a static, defined territory, but as a constant flow of goods, capital and people.

Scientists, policy makers and designers are more and more interested in this way of looking at cities.The metabolistic approach was key to the thinking behind the last biennale, IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE, and IABR tested and applied the method in two IABR–Ateliers, Rotterdam The Urban Metabolism and The Metabolism of Albania.
The approach urges us to rethink the current political, ecological, economic and social systems. However, the practical applications of the approach, and in particular its spatial translation, are at present rather limited. A strong belief in the potential of this approach for more circular, inclusive and resilient cities underlines the need to collect and exchange the existing knowledge and establishing the agenda for the crucial next steps.

Keynote: Dirk Sijmons (H+N+S Landscape Architects, curator IABR–2014)
And contributions from: Philippe Vandenbroeck (ShiftN) and Nadia Casabella (ULB).
Moderator: .Fabric.

Time: 14.00 - 17.30
Location: Atelier Flemish Government Architect, Ravensteingalerij 54-59, Brussels
Language: English
Admission: free. Register via this link.

Designing the Future sessions
This debate is part of the debates program Designing the Future and is organized by AWB and IABR, with the Flemish Government Architect, the Flemish Association for Spatial Planning and the Brussels Government Architect.

Various global and local challenges present themselves increasingly as complex spatial issues: energy transition, the socialization of health care, sustainable mobility, and others. This has resulted in a renewed belief in the potential of design based on the assumption that it can help us realize the future that we want. At this point in time, there is a need to merge the knowledge, insights and experiences that have been produced. What are the lessons learned? And more importantly, what are the next steps? How can we translate intentions into practice? How and with whom do we start? The Designing the Future sessions are devoted to the development of a shared agenda for designing a better future.