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(22-23) Natural City Scenes

Image: Carole Levesque

“Tree is leaf and leaf is tree – house is city and city is house – a tree is a tree but is also a huge leaf – a leaf is a leaf, but it is also a tiny tree – a city is not a city unless it is also a huge house – a house is a house only if it is also a tiny city.”

                                                                                                                                                      Aldo van Eyck


Engagement: The Brussels Way, Craftsmanship
MA34 Semester 2
English – Campus Brussels


The studio is part of an Academic Design Office or ADO. It’ s a 3 years ongoing academic design environment with links to practice and research. The ADO is runned by Nele Stragier and Kristien Vanmerhaeghe, we will be assisted by Prof. Robin Schaeverbeke, who is specialized in architectural and experimental drawing. Through the semester we will have exchange and input by Gardenist Jan Minne, also from Brussels and Hans Eelens, projectleader at the City of Brussels.


The ADO will map and create potential natural ecosystems in between the concrete and built spaces of the city of Brussels. We believe this is e necessity to create a futureproof city. The current transition of the city needs an extra dimension. Nature and wils ecology must be part of the urban biotope to make the city livable.

As Junya Ishigami says “the act of making architecture has the same value as the act of creating a landscape”

The project departs from an ambition to investigate a generous design approach, to create collective and public opportunities for nature in the urban tissue.

We will work on a line as a section axe through the inner and outer Brussels Pentagon from the rooftops of the skyscrapers (or the house of justice) to the deeper foundations of Brussels Heritage. Passing or crossing public squares, private housing, parks, towers, historical buildings and so on. Using the urban section as a tool to reveal natural ecosystems and create bodies of exchange between the built and the unbuilt. First you will walk the line and spend several days and nights to explore the line, and you will register or record your observations of physical, natural, animal and sensory experiences within the city.

These observations will be projected upon large sectional drawings in order to investigate the potential of connecting ecosystems within the city. By using large scale experimental graphic drawings from different disciplines, or better techniques, we want to explore the systemic relations between open – closed, public – private, spaces – non spaces. You will formulate an individual project within that theme from a personal interest in which you will seek a productive exchange between landscape and architecture.


In these sectional drawings we will reveal existing ecosystems to imagine and create a multitude of new natural city scenes and spatial atmospheres on the section line of Brussels. Your design will project an imaginary fragment along the section line in Brussels that reveal a 3D architectural layered space between the inside and the outside, where nature is fully interwoven. Your design will be tested in sectional drawings as well as in sectional models, or maybe even combined. Eventually we will work towards a public exhibition and a publication of the 3 years of research and design. Working on the emptiness through depth and thickness, with texture and tactility – expression and poetry, letting nature coming in through your architectural detail of the new built.

We believe this studio will be enriching and innovative and hope for a passionate and driven group with a lot of eager to make Brussels more livable. Imagining a multitude of natural city scenes and spatial atmospheres.

TEAM : Kristien Vanmerhaeghe – Nele Stragier –  Robin Schaeverbeke

PDFTowards a Grammar of Natural City Scenes 2223


Studio expo: Natural City Scenes 31/05/23

Come and see the results of the NATURAL CITY SCENES master studio (team Kristien Vanmerhaeghe – Nele Stragier –  Robin Schaeverbeke) on Wednesday 31 May 2023 at 5PM @ La Mercerie, (Arteveldestraat 70, 1000 Brussels)