Architecture Workroom Brussels is a think-and-do tank for innovation in architecture, urban planning and other fields relating to spatial development. By getting designers involved in the planning process, Architecture Workroom is helping to create a context for innovation within the practice of design, while simultaneously promoting the role and the meaning of spatial design in the formulation of a—crucial—innovative response to the social problems inherent in a rapidly urbanising world.
All over the world, growing numbers of people have been leaving the countryside and heading for the cities. As the cities turned into repositories for converging masses and cultures, they were transformed into dynamic tangles of opportunities and challenges. Today’s global demographical, ecological and economic challenges all come to a head in the cities, where they become tangible and material. This has also been happening in Europe, a largely established urbanised continent. Planning, designing and executing the required physical environment for our urbanised society will provide us with what will probably turn out to be the most effective leveraging tool for tackling the social challenges of the 21st century.
These radical social changes only emphasise the importance of cities: any demographic growth today is urban growth, any response to the ecological crisis will mainly focus on our urban environments and it is the global network of cities and metropolises that provides us with the greatest part of our wealth production. This situation has brought some new, very real social problems to light, which require a new way of thinking and a customised approach - whereas architecture and urban planning are still harking back to established principles and fixed planning methods. This is why Architecture Workroom has been seeking alternative solutions, by concentrating on innovative design principles that connect more fluently with today’s urban societies.
Architecture Workroom is hoping to find the key to this connectivity by working at a range of different scales of spatial development. All too often, intercity cooperation fails to transcend the level of the conurbation, yet as cities have been sprawling to become urban regions or even bigger metropolises, they have no choice but to adapt their policies to accommodate this new urban and socioeconomic reality. A number of issues that never used to feature on the agenda for urban development, such as water management, agriculture and world economic activities, have now become topical. As a consequence, not just architects and urban planners, but politicians, administrations, market players and citizens will also be required to come up with new ideas to adapt the city to its increased size and its new role. As a small cosmopolitan metropolis and the capital of Europe, Brussels is an ideal operating base for Architecture Workroom—as well as a laboratory—from which to contribute to this crucial overhaul of design practice.