Photo: Bob Van Mol

Is a collective approach to the energy transition of the built environment needed, in addition to the traditional house-by-house approach? That’s what many local governments, civil society organizations, and private partners all over Flanders, Brussels and the Netherlands confirm! Last week’s conference during the FTI festival in Hasselt set the stage for a conversation about five prototypical breakthrough projects that could kick-start a district energy transformation: from the renovation of an apartment building and how to involve all residents, to collective solutions in the fragmented space of allotment areas, to shared heat projects in typical urban blocks. 
The publication we produced as a conversation starter can be found here (NL). Guest speakers fuelled the discussion with inspiring examples. The final debate underlined the need for multidisciplinary ‘living lab’ environments to test in real time how technical, social, financial, legal and policy levers can be interlinked. The Flemish, Brussels, and European innovation policies should create space for additional capacity, dedicated budgets and knowledge platforms for local experiments and collective projects to help shape the societal innovations needed for our neighbourhoods of the future. 
‘Cities Making Places: De energietransitie in bestaande stadswijken en dorpskernen versnellen’ taking place on March 18, 2024 was programmed by Architecture Workroom Brussels and VITO NEXUS, as partners of The Great Transformation 2020-2030.

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