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Community-driven Acceleration of Urban Transformation

Design practices around the world are renewing their approach to turn the ambitious goals that policies set themselves into concrete projects that make tangible a more sustainable, inclusive and affordable future. Community-driven practices are making it possible to accelerate much-needed urban transformation in many places at once. Internationally renowned practices such as Anupama Kundoo and OOZE architects share their insights and approaches in this event. In conversation with policy makers, we look for models to give framework to these socio-spatial projects.

Erik De Deyn


date June 29, 2022 | 11:45 - 13:15
ICC: Voices from Cities Room B
Brussels Regional Government
Polish, Spanish, English, French + CART
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
VC-B 9


The Brussels Capital Region has a long tradition of investing in urban renewal at the neighbourhood level through the Neighbourhood Contracts and Urban Renewal Contracts. The role of community-driven initiatives has been key in these projects, which created a fertile ground for many actual civil society initiatives that plea for new forms of city making, responding to the changing societal challenges. The COVID19 pandemic brought the debate on living together in the city to a head. In 2020, the Brussels Region launched the Good Living initiative. Experts came up with conclusions into an ambitious framework to future-proof all Brussels buildings, streets and squares, a real guideline in the Brussels transition to a people-minded city. Not only the goals but also the methods to reach those ambitious goals have to be renewed. In the proposed event Brussels’ Secretary of State Pascal Smet outlines the design and conclusions of this process.

Many citizens organize themselves in civil society around the social changes that are coming our way. There is more and more evidence and conviction that citizens can leverage new partnerships with public and private actors to make social transitions happen in concrete projects. For example, the energy transition can only be realized if we enable local projects of collective renovation and local energy communities as part of the neighborhood of the future. The transition of water policy, to make it more armed to deal with the impact of climate change, can only succeed if water management is tackled simultaneously at all scales and in many places. Referring to the harvest of the cultural innovation platform The Great Transformation, Roeland Dudal from Architecture Workroom Brussels will present several examples of innovative practices in Brussels where community-driven initiatives provoke an acceleration of urban transformation and are carrying the seeds of future places for Brussels.

We invited two remarkable and innovative practices that are internationally active on this front. Eva Pfannes from OOZE architects and urbanists, was involved in Rotterdam's Local Energy Action Plan that integrated local community dynamics in the energy transition policy of the city and co-initiated the King's Cross Pond Club
, a community-driven initiative of natural bathing in the midst of urban regeneration in London.

RIBA Charles Jencks Award winner Anupama Kundoo founded her practices in the experimental town of Auroville, India, from where she developed a sustainable approach to architecture and urban design based on experimentation and reuse of materials. Based on her experience as practitioner and as a teacher, working worldwide, she will explore the importance of a different attitude and strategy to deal with values, knowledge, resources, and communities locally in order to respond the global societal challenges.

After this conversation with both community-grounded practices, a round table discussion wil search for lessons-to-learn on different policy levels. Sociologist and philosopher Eric Corijn (expert Global Parliament of Mayors / Cosmopolis, VUB Brussels) will bring in how the government can make a structural and cultural framework to stimulate community-driven urban transformation practices. Some extra invited policy actors will react from his/her experience with communities and urban transformation in his/her city.


The aim of the session is to inform cities and regions about the need for new coalitions between community-driven initiatives, coupled with new policy frameworks and alternative financing models that drives resilience in urban transformations and accelerates the ongoing societal transitions.

Session speakers

Mr. Pascal Smet
Secretary of State
Brussels Capital Region
Mr. Roeland Dudal
Architecture Workroom Brussels
Ms. Eva Pfannes
OOZE architects and urbanists
Ms. Anupama Kundoo
Mr. Eric Corijn
co-director policy and research
Global Parliament of Mayers