picture: Bas Bogaerts

As part of the IABR Atelier BXL Productive Metropolis, a call is being put out in conjunction with the Brussels authorities for research by design into the desired building types for a high-quality interweaving of habitation and workplaces in the city. Two design teams will be appointed to explore and portray the challenges and the future of the productive districts on the basis of two test areas each.
The final date for submission is January 20, 2016

International challenges and tendencies underline the need for the reintroduction of production industries into our regions: from manufacturing that links together knowledge, innovation and production, to a circular economy that concentrates on shorter chains and flows of raw materials and energy. The Flemish-Brussels metropolitan region has a large number of unemployed semi-and unskilled workers, while old industrial zones in the city and its periphery are decaying. The BXL Productive Metropolis Workshop proposes breathing new life into these old industrial sites by focusing on attracting innovative production activities. The city as a melting-pot of knowledge and workers is considered the ideal basis for the development of a circular economy or for local assembly, linked to a global logistical system, thus offering opportunities for the Brussels canal zone and the adjoining industrial zones in Vilvoorde. The results of this process of research by design and sharing of knowledge are to be shown at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and at BOZAR in Brussels.

The main partners in the project are the Brussels Capital Region, the Flemish Region (Ruimte Vlaanderen and OVAM), the Province of Flemish Brabant and the IABR.


This call addresses design teams who are interested in carrying out research by design for the Brussels Capital Region. The project zooms in on 4 specific cases, each in close collaboration with those actors in the Brussels authorities that are involved. The two selected teams will each focus on two linked sites. In these areas, an examination will be made of the potency and essential spatial conditions that are necessary to be able to play a vital part in the development of the productive districts in the metropolitan area of Brussels, with habitation and work positively interwoven. Concrete spatial proposals are expected that can be employed for the actual practice of development. These projects will derive their substance from ‘urban meetings’ at which knowledge will also be exchanged with the Flemish research projects and with international experts. The intermediate and final results will form part of exhibitions and programmes for the public at IABR and BOZAR in Brussels.

The cases that are the subject of the research by design are in the following districts (possibly subject to change): Masui (Schaarbeek, Brussels), Birmingham (Anderlecht), Biestebroek (Anderlecht) and Delta (Oudergem, Elsene, Watermaal Bosvoorde).

The preliminary specifications of the assignment can be found here.

For more information on procedure and budgets, go the website of Architecture Workroom Brussels