Permanent organizes various public meetings and events to build up and share tools, skills and knowledge on how to develop and organize affordable and solidary urban spaces to work, interact and live, with a specific focus on the role of the artist. These events can consist of a walk, an intervention on the street, a workshop or talk or an online meeting. Together they shape a bottom-up trajectory that accompanies and nourishes the development of our mixed-use infrastructure.

Bas Van Heur and Verena Lenna on The Future of Culture is Common

Article on Cultural Trends

Bas Van Heur, Menna Agha and Els Silvrants-Barclay wrote an article on the Permanent Building Beyond summer school in Cultural Trends, available here.

Building Beyond summer school

in this 3-day public summer school (9 to 11 september 2021) we took stock of different voices, experiences and practices of sharing and commoning within changing urban settings. Our core concerns were the ownership models, spatial conditions, and grassroot processes of collective infrastructures, focusing in particular on tensions and opportunities that emerge when creating infrastructures for shared and mixed use, and on the role the arts can play. All lectures and roundtables were documented and can be viewed here.

Workshop #5 - Building as Becommoning: Brick by Brick

This workshop focuses on the construction site. How creative interventions in the building process could extent the paradigm of cheap and fast and turned it into solidary and durable. How could we imagine a building at the same time as a construction site while already making use of the building? We will look for methodologies that engage contractors in a project while leaving room for an appropriation integrated development by the users themselves, methodologies that re-invent the time line of a building from foundations to final use, cross fertilizing construction, use and appropriation over the course of time.

Both considerations will be addressed within the framework of a defined construction language which deals with intelligent structure, materiality, sustainability and degrees of finishing.

As a preparation different attitudes will be explored by investigating prominent examples, expertise and shared experiences in search of a becommoning.

Workshop #4 - Building as Becommoning: The Many Ones

In this workshop we will zoom in on the building and uses in and along the building. The focus lies on the overlap between the different needs resulting in a spatial complexity with a good sense of sharing. How can we envision shared collective spaces, while preserving safe space and specific needs of specific users and partners? Where do we draw the line of what can be shared and what does that imply in terms of collective and public spaces ?

The workshop focusses on the interest and advantages that can be mutualised between the different partners and their activities, while raising awareness on potential sensitive consequences by reflecting on how a place can tolerate friction or disagreement.

The notion of sharing also questions to what extent a building can become public. What needs to remain a safe space, what space is there for overlap. The personal history and the intimacy we have with some public buildings, is sometimes the only connection to wander through the space.

Introduction ARCH (Action-Research Collective for Hospitality)

We invited ARCH (Action Research Collective for Hospitality) to give a brief introduction on their inspiring initiative and examplary methodology. Welcome to join their presentation and a round of questions.

ARCH was created in January 2019, in the continuity of the work carried out at Metrolab Brussels on the theme of “urban inclusion” with the intention of pursuing observations, analyses and practical considerations on the qualities of hospitality in Brussels’ urban spaces, mainly where this issue seemed most pressing: the Maximilian Park, the North Station, the Northern Quarter.

The collective has gradually been built up through the voluntary involvement of many researchers (academics or not) and practitioners with diverse backgrounds (sociologists, architects, urban planners, artists, activists, anthropologists) in a collective action research project aiming to promote urban hospitality in Brussels, which is a metropolis either crossed and impacted by migration movements. Urban hospitality is understood as the ability of an urban environment to open up and welcome newcomers who come forward; here more precisely, people in migratory situations occupying different places in the Northern Quarter. Witnessing the deplorable conditions of their extreme reception, vulnerability and distress, ARCH members have come together to highlight their situation and call on the people of Brussels (particularly public authorities, administrations and urban affairs professionals) about our common duty of hospitality and humanity.

The research was developed over a short period of time, in close collaboration with the Citizen’s Platform – which welcomes hundreds of people every day among the 800 migrants and refugees present in this part of the city. The Platform co-defined the lines of the survey with ARCH members according to some of the needs and problems it faced on a daily basis, and contributed to the implementation and progress of research activities, as well as the production of results. We conducted this inquiry using a combination of methods based on collective exploration of the neighborhood, ethnographic observation.

Workshop #3 - Building as Becommoning: Outside In

In this workshop we will give the floor to the neighboring organization of the fire department in the quartier harmonie. What do they imagine for the future uses and users of this site? What sort of functions are needed in the neighborhood? what connections beyond the neighborhood would be desirable? By bringing the outside in we want to build up a durable alliance amongst the social and urban fabric around the building of the fire department.

Bringing these organizations together will strengthen their agency in the future of this location and enable them to give direction to the alternative proposal of Permanent. The current partners of Permanent want to support the appropriation of the potential of this site by the neighborhood, with this workshop we share some tools that could help to do so and develop possible partnerships that would ground a solidary proposal for this particular site.

Workshop #2 - Building as Becommoning: Holding up the Mirror

In this workshop we will studied the current partners of Permanent (Level Five, Globe Aroma, CLTB, VUB) in detail from an organizational point of view. Next to collecting data on their current activities, we reflected on their spatial use and evaluated the way each organization works. By holding up the mirror we wanted to research alternative organisational schemes and potential spatial configurations. At the same time the different partners learned about each others identities and ambitions.

In preparation to this workshop, we will visited each current partners' venue and to collected a wide range of parameters through different mapping tools which illustrate their current and potential dynamics. Dialogues with users, imagery, storytelling, … played an important role to give a more complex understanding of the organizations and spaces. This workshop will served as a first step to envision the potential of sharing within and around a possible location. Both topics are further researched in workshops 3 and 4.

Workshop #1 - Building as Becommoning: Imagining Permanent Through Lived Experience

Users of Level Five, Globe Aroma, CLTB, VUB (the current partners in the Permanent coalition) will be asked to give an insight in their spatial experiences by sharing their daily activities.

Through a collection of images and questions that illustrate very concrete to more abstract attitudes, we try to bring about a conversation that opens up the imagination of what Permanent can be. In this conversation we take into account a set of yet unknown users and uses, "the neighbourhood," wherever Permanent will finds a place this will always be an equal partner.

This conversation will introduce and challenge the following workshops: Holding up the Mirror, Inside-Out, The Many Ones, Brick by Brick. We see these workshops as the starting point to develop a set of tools and practices enabling groups that roam temporary and precarious space to build, through solidarity, more autonomous structures from the ground up.


Workshop 2020.08.28

written and visual documentation of the workshop on 2020/08/28. The workshop focussed on the needs of the different partners and finding out what gradations of overlap in use there could be between them. This was worked out spatially by a team of architects on the basis of the plans of a formar fire department in BXL.


Article in RUIMTE

Article on Permanent by Els Silvrants-Barclay for RUIMTE magazine.

text-en.pdf text-fr.pdf text-nl.pdf


This is the text we use to pitch Permanent.

introduction-NL.pdf introduction-FR.pdf