Farmers and nature associations join forces to safeguard open space for food production while ensuring greater biodiversity and improving the quality of the landscape. Businesses and citizens jointly collect rainwater to bridge long periods of drought. A municipal council makes plans with residents to deseal the village square and transform it into a space for providing cooling, rest and relaxation. These initiatives do not happen on their own, but thanks to commitment and perseverance shared interests are made comprehensible and connected in a robust coalition. An integrated, ambitious and future-oriented project arranges the individual interests of all these actors in a new puzzle. This is the logic the Open Space Platform has acknowledged, honed and replicated over the past decade. 

Open Space Coalitions portrays the growing practice of collaboration in the open space. The book consists of four parts, each drawing on the experiences of 179 open space projects supported or initiated by (or that were meaningful to) the Open Space Platform over the past decade. 

In the first part, we condense the diversity of actors, themes and scales of work within these 179 projects into ten future stories of open space coalitions, illustrated by artist Chloé Dierckx. They reveal what connects all these projects: the power of collaboration to promote the necessary change in gardens, fields, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, landscapes and even entire river basins. 

The second part highlights the fact that this change is not only promising, but possible and even starting to take place. The photo report by Bob Van Mol shows samples of activities and achievements on the ground. Journalist Esmeralda Borgo zooms in on four inspiring projects and shares the story of the driving forces behind them, the ambitions, the process and the breakthroughs.

In the third part, we explore the projects in-depth. We share successful and less successful experiences using ten key questions that any initiator of an open space project can apply. 

The fourth and final part takes stock of the 179 projects. The set of maps, accompanied by voices testifying to a practice of learning-by-doing, illustrates the replication of open space projects over the past decade. 

Open Space Coalitions thus draws on 179 large and small open space projects from the past decade, bundling their insights in ambitious future stories and tools for the next wave of projects for open space in Flanders. The book is the result of research, interviews with a diverse range of open space actors and onze eigen Architecture Workroom's 10 years of experience as a driver and facilitator of the Open Space Platform and its programmes. 

Year: 2023

Publisher: Architecture Workroom Brussels, Vlaamse Landmaatschappij, Public Space

Authors: Lene De Vrieze, Griet Celen, Bram Vandemoortel, Joachim Declerck, Marie van Loon, Leonie Martens, Louisa Contipelli, Emma Bierens, Lars Vermeulen

Photography: Bob Van Mol

Illustrations: Chloé Dierckx

Graphic design: Something Els

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