Peek under the corner to see the building ;)

Estonian and Belgian architects working on how to improve the city of Brussels

On 24 April, architects from five Estonian and five Belgian architecture offices will dive into a number of spatial design and architecture challenges that the city of Brussels faces. The issues they will explore have been jointly defined using expertise from Belgian as well as Estonian side, and look at how to improve the security of critically important buildings in the city, how better urban planning and architecture can support a more coherent society and how might a more digital society change the physical city around us.

The conclusions and solutions – site-specific to locations in Brussels – offered by the five teams of architects will form the core of an exhibition titled “BEL:EST A Laboratory for the City of Europe”, to be opened as part of the Tallinn Architecture Biennale TAB 2017 programme in Tallinn, Estonia in September 2017. After that, the exhibition will travel to Brussels, BOZAR, to present the case studies and spatial proposals to the Brussels’ public, opening on the 23rd of November, 2017. The programme is curated by Aet Ader (b210), produced by BOZAR and Estonian Centre of Architecture, and dedicated to the Estonia 100 centenary celebrations and Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The idea to collaborate on Brussels urban challenges, thus bringing together the knowledge and experiences of Estonian and Belgian architects was born as a joint initiative of the Estonian Centre of Architecture and BOZAR. BOZAR is often the location of architecture exhibitions representing different European Union member states, but these tend to be explorations of the architecture history of the particular country. The BEL:EST workshops and the following exhibition take a decisively different approach, showing how architects solve problems and what they could propose in the case of very specific urban sites with particular issues. According to Veronika Valk, architect and adviser on architecture and design at the Estonian Ministry of Culture, who helped to kickstart the project nearly a year ago, it is vital for us at European level to promote the best architecture practices across national borders. "Such collaboration models offer us ways to work towards shared market ideals through skills-based and problem-centred networking. Those initiatives ultimately enable us to push further architectural design services offered by local design studios in different capitals, thus offering the venturous practitioners across Europe tangible means to approach urban, architectural or design problems in other parts of Europe in intelligent ways."

Architecture offices participating from Estonia include Salto, b210, Arhitekt Must, PART and KAOS and they were selected for the project by BOZAR to show a diverse range of experience and working methods from the Estonian side. Salto architects are known as architects of several public buildings with a clear cut (Viljandi State School, Baltic Film and Media School, NO99 Straw Theatre), PART was just awarded the Estonian Young Architect title and have been both pushing for research into the future of wooden architecture as well as teaching the next generation of architects at the Estonian Academy of Arts to master the digital design era. Arhitekt Must have won local acclaim for continually contributing to the urban planning debates in Estonia by proposing bold and brave solutions to specific sites via general media. B210 architects curated the 2013 Tallinn Architecture Biennale, raising the issue of what to do with Soviet period heritage architecture, and they’ve also been leading design studios at the Estonian Academy of Arts, leading to some internationally recognized projects (forest megaphones RUUP, floating object VEETEE). KAOS architects have built a rich portfolio of museum exhibition design and invigorating delicate heritage buildings (Kohtla Mining Park, Estonian Embassy in London, Energy Discovery Centre in Tallinn).

Their Brussels-based counterparts also cover a wide range of topics and approaches, bringing diverse expertise to the BEL:EST joint operation. L’escaut defends a vision of architecture as a collaborative process where the plastic approach and the definition of uses are negotiated on an equal footing. With skills gathering architecture, scenography and urbanism, their practice is conceived with artistic, theoretical and experimental approaches. AgwA proposes a functional architecture, frank and without detours, impregnated with the concern to respond to the contextual, human, programmatic and economic stakes, by simple solutions, but always effective and ecologically and economically sustainable. Delmulle & Delmulle focuses on emphasizing the power of the environment, in order to respond to the global growing pressure by designing attractive high quality urban spaces as a catalyst for the society’s significant development. Bogdan & Van Broeck are involved in society and in the public debate and ecologically inclined towards urban renewal and densification, with activities in Romania, Congo, Sweden, Argentina, Estonia and Iceland – besides Belgium, their particular interest lies in development strategy. Lassa works for both the public and private sectors in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, operating at the intersection between the fields of art, technology and social science, showing developed ability in the field of digital design and manufacturing.

To keep in touch with the progress of the workshops next week, follow the Tallinn Architecture Biennale TAB 2017 Facebook page.

Participating offices from Estonia: Salto, b210, Arhitekt Must, PART, KAOS
Participating offices from Belgium: L’escaut, AgwA, Delmulle & Delmulle, Bogdan & Van Broeck, Lassa
Production: BOZAR, Estonian Centre of Architecture 

More info:
Maria Kristiin Peterson
ECA producer
+372 523 1121