Call for proposals 4

How to activate public space in (g)local times

Briefly introduce yourself.

We are a multidisciplinary practice and research platform based in Prato, Italy. Fascinated by different cultures and people, we develop unconventional strategies and aesthetics in search of new iconographies rich in symbolism and meaning. Geometry and art are the tools we use to trigger sociality and spontaneity in the city, embrace diversity and address contemporary social and spatial needs.

What is diversity for you and which aspect(s) of it are you most concerned with?

In the past five years, we have led a cultural centre in Macrolotto 0, Prato’s neighbourhood known as one of the biggest Chinatowns in Europe. We designed, developed and realized a small square, Piazza dell’Immaginario, reclaiming the space of a previously neglected parking lot. Besides the design of a new public area, this project features a political message: through bottom-up processes, architecture can merge different social groups, trigger moments of sharing and host various visual, performative arts as well as local, spontaneous events. Today diversity tends to be banned: from monoculture agriculture to cataloguing of knowledge. Our civilization keeps ‘throwing away’ diversity to simplify and trivialize the complexity of everyday life, imposing univocal, often Western and capitalistic, lifestyles, knowledge and practices. However, from our previous experience, we strongly believe in diversity. We are driven by our constant interest in operating and finding ways to enhance multiculturalism and social interactions in the city.

What is the idea, proposal or initiative you wish to propose?

We propose developing the first of a series of workshops to trigger a social, spatial, and political regeneration process within the municipality of Schaerbeek, Brussels. For its multi-ethnicism and urban diversity, the area between Gare du Nord and the Faculty of Architecture and Arts (KU Leuven), represents a suitable place for activating new social dynamics. We expect to collaborate with local authorities, associations, students, residents, researchers and experts from the nearby institutions, with which we have already established contacts in presenting our vision within the Urban Culture lectures' program. Through collaborative design and artistic practices, we can empower social minorities, improve living standards and generate new urban rituals. Re-interpreting the 2017 Vienna Design Week workshop (image), which helped redefine a marginal area of the city, we propose exercising our (g)local knowledge in Schaerbeek through workshops leading to further small-scale interventions and rethinking of the area.