The (Picard)Street as key space for Transition
Brussels, Belgium
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Location:
Brussels, Belgium
Category:
urban planning
Phase:
design development
Updated:
11 August 2021
FCFA aims to make the unprecedented opportunities of the street space visible and to enhance  change. The street is a traditional space with an enormous versatility and possibilities to climate adaptation, meeting space, soft mobility, infrastructure, ... . By making streets temporarily car-free, FCFA allows residents to explore and to experiment. Moreover, through imagination via design, long-term future scenarios are elaborated.
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Introduction
In 2018, continued insight into the harmful effects of air pollution on our health gave rise to mass campaigns by parents, schools and children in Brussels and Flanders against unsafe and unhealthy school environments. With several actions, Filter Café put air quality on the political agenda. In 2019, the NGO was created, which continues to work with its Atelier on the constructive representation of a car-free, liveable and climate-proof city.

One of these initiatives is Open Streets, a project that was initiated in the Picardstraat in 2020 by neighbours and other civic organisations. Performances by the Brussels dance company Ultima Vez, a swimming pool by Pool is Cool, an outdoor community kitchen by Cultureghem, and other interventions allowed to have a diverse program. 

This Picardstraat-intervention became even more urgent, as the COVID restrictions rendered the need for public space more visible than ever. Particular to this neighbourhood, are the densely stacked appartements without any open nor green space inside the building blocks. All the streets space is taken by cars. Behind the facades lives a very diverse group of inhabitants who didn’t know each other, simply because there is no space for encounters.

The success made it possible to replicate Open Streets in 7 different locations in 2021. For now these interventions are temporary but they aim to become permanent conditions that recuperate the space taken by cars and give qualitative public space to the people.
Open street 2020

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Impact
Working on the transition of street spaces, the impact of Filter Cafe Filtre Atelier (FCFA) occurs in different levels: 

TEMPORARY COMPLETION–TACTICAL URBANISM - The temporary use of the street in the summer of 2020, in Sep 2020 and this summer of 2021 give the residents of the street, the neighborhood and even wider areas of Brussels, ways to explore alternative interpretations of  what a street can be. The repetition of these temporary interventions in the long term aims to develop permanent qualitative streetspaces that give back to pedestrians their main role in the city, create safe spaces for children, improve air quality in the city,…  

DESIGNING FOR THE LONG TERM - FCFA is a studio that uses imagination to make the as-yet-unknown possibilities of the street visible to a wide audience through design. The street is a centuries-old space where mobility, pleasant stay and social interaction come together. It is also a space with underground infrastructure and enormous opportunities for climate adaptation such as energy capture and distribution (heat networks, smart grids,..), rainwater recovery, debitumenisation, landscape, etc. No single public service has a complete, kaleidoscopic view of what a street can become. Through imagination and design, we bring the future into focus. 

SUPRALOCAL–MULTIPLIER EFFECT - The success of these streets has been published in national and international media, which has allowed more people asking to make Open Streets in their neighborhoods. Also, it has inspired other collectives to start similar initiatives in Brussels and other cities.  
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Core team
FILTER CAFÉ FILTRE ATELIER  is a NGO that originated from the actions of pupils, parents and citizens to be more conscious about the air pollution around schools in Brussels. This first group of interventions inspired other actors in the city, such as the residents of Picardstraat in Molenbeek to intervene in their own neighborhood. The success in 2020 gave the residents of seven other neighborhoods the will to start with OpenStreets in 2021. These new interventions were possible due to the collaboration between FCFA, neighbours, citizen organizations, cultural actors and other NGOs like Zonnelied, Clean Cities, Cultureghem... 

OPEN STREETS - Different institutions came together to create the Open street Project. The aim of this new association is to enhance the relation between public space, cultural events and the inclusion of the community. Partners of the Open Street Project are: 

ULTIMA VEZ-WIMVANDEKEYBUS-KVS: Presented a choreography of protest dance of the event by FCFA 'Live On Air' in which people cycled from Antwerp to Brussels on the A12 highway, several dance performances in the Picardstraat, …

KANAL supports the project with various interactive installations and workshops (studio cité, sleeping cells, protestenctil…)

KAAITHEATHER supports with dance workshops (klapping) during OpenStreets. 

CULTUREGHEM: NGO that goes around the city with mobile kitchens (mounted on a bicycle) and cooks together with residents and children of the neighborhood. They use remaining ingredients that are collected after the market at Abattoir.

BRUSSELS 2030: financial support 
Team

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Image gallery
Girl during skate workshop

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Children in bikes

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Concert of La clinik du DR. Poembak

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Open street poster

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Kids drawing

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Collective kitchen by Cultureghem

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Family 1

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Temporary Pool by Pool is cool

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Performance by Ultima Vez

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Performance by Ultima vez

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Children cooking

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Movie projection

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Polititians during the first Summerstreet

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Bike workshop

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Workshop about the future possibilities of the street

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Skate workshop

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Hammock installation

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Family in hammock

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Dance workshop

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Kids playing

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Technical drawings
Today

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summer street

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Imagination

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plan

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Program along the axis

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Perspective

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Energy

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Circular economy

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Good move proposal

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Mobility

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Air quality

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Program of the week

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Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
Filter Cafe Filtre is an organization that has a very motivated and strong team of architects, urbanists, designers with interest in social changes and the improvement of our cities. We also count the help of other cultural and civic organizations, and have been able to develop already a lot of successful actions and manifestions. 

Nevertheless, we still need financial ressources to develop our further initiatives, in particular for temporary installations and accomodations. 
An indication of our team’s capacity:
40% funding already raised
50% expertise already found
50% builders already found
Finance: € 71,500
We still need financial ressources to develop our further initiatives, in particular for temporary installations and accomodations. This year, we have started making permanent interventions such as the installation of urban furniture (benches, parking spaces for bikes...), planting of bushes and small trees and we are aiming to transform some parts of the street into green spaces for the street. In order to make these intervention, we need funding for the design, building, installation  and adquisition of the materials. 
  • urban furniture
  • 20,000
  • Plants
  • 2,000
  • Design of installations
  • 7,500
  • Building of installations
  • 20,000
  • Work force
  • 8,000
  • Cultural program
  • 12,000
  • other
  • 2,000
    Skills: Technique
    With the summer schools we are thinking about the climate, we want to make these streets and the buildings in them more sustainable and the people more concious about alternative ways of producing and consuming energy, Therefore, we aim to have a partner that focuses on these topics and can  make our thoughts more specific. 
    Stuff: Materials, Equipment & tools
    We aim to implement permanent interventions, and to accomplish this we need more urban furniture like  benches, parking for bikes and materials and tools to build our installations, open streets and plant vegetation. 
    Planting roses

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    Hands
    During the summer streets we design several temporal installations and permanent interventions that embelish the street. Therefore we need people who can build these in different materials. It is important to create a collaborative relation between the different volunteers, as they are also part of Filter Cafe Filtre Atelier.
    Help bring our project to life!
    Location
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