We are looking for new ways of collectively creating, learning, and meeting, as drivers of societal, social, and spatial transitions. Who will help us create space for the city of tomorrow? In Brussels, the demand for physical space is as great as it is urgent. Numerous promising organisations are searching in vain for a home base, where they can settle down and develop. In contrast, other organisations do have physical space available, which they would like to use to house local communities and initiatives. Nevertheless, it seems difficult to seize opportunities for sharing space and for productive collaboration.

This is why, in August 2021, the Flemish Government launched the project call 'Community Infrastructure as a Breeding Place in Brussels' providing 2.3 million euros in financial support. This call aims to connect organisations in Brussels and set up 'Breeding Places’: workplaces made of bricks as well as people, where local communities and organisations jointly design new forms of collaboration, responding to challenges in the capital. At these sites, they reinforce each other's ambitions, can develop new initiatives together and sow the seeds of future places in the city. The objective of the call is threefold: to encourage sectoral and cross-sectoral cooperation, facilitate multiple use of space and contribute to a future-oriented approach.

In this process, Architecture Workroom Brussels took on a coordinating role in a guiding trajectory towards applications for the call. We organised a working session to put various organisations in touch, identifying potential matching opportunities for substantive cross-fertilisation and sharing infrastructure. With a group of spatial, financial and organisational experts, we then supported participating organisations in completing and fine-tuning their subsidy applications. The call allows organisations to review and optimise their infrastructure - and consequently their daily way of working - with the aim of a sustainable future for the organisation. Unlike regular subsidy procedures, in this call we focused on the preliminary process to prepare the candidate applications. This gave many organisations the opportunity to learn and receive support to prepare their application files - even if organisations eventually were not selected, the project provided them with direction for dealing with their infrastructure.

In May 2022, a jury decided on the 18 application files submitted based on four evaluation criteria. Twelve applications achieved the threshold score applied by the jury and will receive an investment grant to develop as a breeding place. Amongst these, Cultureghem is creating a mobile breeding place, which can be developed in the city's public space, in association with a large group of partners (MUS-E Belgium, Pool is Cool, Brede School, SAAMO Brussel, Filter Café Filtré Atelier, Molenbeek Rebels Basketball, Nakama, Kuregem Boxing Academy). Globe Aroma, Terra Nova and Community Land Trust Brussels is integrating artistic and educational programmes in social housing. Infrastructure works at Danscentrumjette provide an innovative crossover with Labolobo and TOOP from the care and health sector. The Sint-Jans Molenbeek municipal council, in association with Ket&Co, aims to transform the existing collaboration with De Molenketjes, and BS Molenbeek with new partners D'Broej Centrum West/Overkop and Labolobo, into a meeting place and organisational network to strengthen the social fabric around the school.

In 2023, we embarked on a follow-up process with the Brussels Breeding Places that were selected. During this process, we wish to learn, share knowledge and thus help realise the Breeding Places' predefined ambitions. We are also laying the foundations for a future-proof policy that is committed to launching more Breeding Places in Brussels. The follow-up process includes intervision sessions: on-location work sessions to which we invite three Breeding Places each time. During these sessions, the Breeding Places share experience and knowledge with each other, as well as with AWB. We are also working towards a ‘Trefdag’ in September 2023, dedicated to connecting Flemish-Brussels partners and inspiring practices, also showing the first insights of the ongoing trajectory.

Year: 2021-now

Initiator: Coördinatie Brussel (Vlaams Brusselsfonds)