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Serre de Bockstael

Developing community-based urban agriculture in Brussels.

Project: Serre de Bockstael

Client: Ville de Bruxelles | Stad Brussel

Year: 2020

Partners included: Ville de Bruxelles | Stad Brussel

Location: Brussels


Team: Adrian Hill, Hanne Van Reusel

Sector: Public space & community, Production

Services: Business models & financing, User reserach & engagement

Why?  The City of Brussels launched “Food for change”, a project to develop urban agriculture within its dense urban fabric. The aim is to focus on local, short supply chain production of food. For this, the closest possible market gardeners and suppliers were targeted. Within the framework of an urban renewal program (Contrat de Quartier Durable Bockstael) a potential production site had been identified but the exact function of this site and how it would be managed in the long-term was unclear.


What? Osmos was commissioned by the City of Brussels to coordinate a participative process to define what kinds of community based agricultural projects could be activated on the site, what kind of infrastructure would be needed and develop a business plan for the realisation. As the end-use could remain unclear until the project was built, it was important not to over-promise any ideas to the neighbours and local residents. As a result, abstract sketches were created to present the general mood, without showing a resolved design. This meant that the design concepts remained conceptual and local residents did not feel threatened. Osmos developed a business plan for the planned greenhouse and provided input to adapt the outline of the plans according to the needs of its future users.

How? Interviews, focus groups and public exhibitions were the main modalities for feedback. Firstly, the project involved reaching out to local organisations actively involved in urban agriculture to identify how this site could support existing initiatives. Secondly, it involved looking at how neighbours and local inhabitants would react to scenarios of how the site could be used. In all events, abstract sketches were used to guide the dialogue.

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