< terug

(20-21) The Radicant II

The Radicant II: Solitude

European Quarter, Brussels

Studio Cecilia Chiappini
Preliminary Brief – 22th January 2021
maib24 2020-2021, Semester 2
Urban Cultures Engagement

This design studio lead by Cecilia Chiappini proposes a three-folded inquire. On the one hand, it starts by the concept of the radicant (1), continuing the previous experience of the maib24 2019-2020 (led with Caroline Sohie around the topic of migration)1. Then, it accentuates the experiential level by crossing it with solitude (2), and proposing a tool to explore the links with urban spaces: the analysis of storytelling in films (in collaboration with Maurizio Scarciglia). Finally, it explores the way such concepts can relate to large urban transformations2 (3), in this sense, as part of a series of design studios focused on the capability of infrastructural transformations to unlock urban developments of high density (in remote contexts under hyper-transformation in the
frame of maib34).

Usually, the design studio addresses the question of how infrastructure can potentially generate spaces of social interactions in which urban complexity and conflicts can be celebrated (referred as spaces of collectivitites).

This is broadly associated with “lively” urban spaces.3 In contrast, now, the proposal is to rethink the meaning of high-density and new ways of living, in combination with a new understanding of urban qualities, relations between private-public and collective spaces. The focus is on the new articulations of domestic and everyday life experiences trigged by the lock-downs and the pandemic. In this case, starting by the lack of interactions and by the variety of implications in recalibrating the space of residence as starting spatial frame for (social, virtual, restrictive) interactions.

Based on this, the students will produce an architectural-urban design-case proposal based on their inquiries on a specific location, starting by the provocation of a project under development.4 This semester’s location is the transformations of the European Quarter of Brussels.

Here, the Projet Urbain Loi (PUL), aims at providing 880.000 m2 of new built space in this area. Further, the Loi 130 Project makes this ambitions concrete, with the construction of towers of 190,000 m² that have just been assigned by competition.

How can such ambitious projects for urban transformation be put under question when most of the activities are done remotely, leading to empty offices and apartments? How does such a contrast help us re-imagine ways of building living and working spaces with an accent of new ways of interacting?

Evidently, the background of the inquiries is the worldwide situation triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, making it more urgent to rethink the way we live together in high density contexts, and how we transform them and keep them open to new, unexpected, circumstances.

During an intensive research-design studio, students will discuss conceptual issues, develop and test explorative tools to address the issues at stake, especially looking at “film narratives” to explore the link between solitude and urban and domestic spaces; in combination with site research based on “expectations, materialisations and appropriations,” around infrastructures and collectivities. The “learning from…” approach is tested transversally.5

The modality of the design studio is partially remote, partially presential, and the main objective is to generate urban design and architecture devices, and strategic plans, that particularly look at (inter)cultural dimension of urban spaces. In this, each student is to put in place a coherent research and design process, to define and prove a critical point of view, translated into design understood in broad sense.

1 See: The Radicant, maib24 2019-2020
2 As developed in close relation with the tutor’s PhD-research on Infrastructures under Transformation as Spaces of Collectivities”
3 The concept of livability is related to rankings to measure certail parameters that will be developed further and addressed during the
4 Previously, the design studios have addressed Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Brussels. For references, see particularly Brussels: Soojeong
Kwon: https://app.box.com/s/v3lho5we753j9ca3yu6md4kh5t06b9hi (maib14 2017-2018), Saeki Tatsuya: https://app.box.com/s/eyeun2psbcsm-
9wfar55ci3modc9h08ph (maib14 2016-2017). Toni Popovski (maib24 2016-17)
5 Inspired by Learning from Las Vegas and Made in Tokyo. See References.

Read the full studio brief (pdf)

Image left (from top-left to bottom-right):
-LOI: https://perspective.brussels/fr/projets/poles-strategiques/quartier-europeen
-Loi 130: https://ec.europa.eu/oib/loi130-competition/competition_en.htm
-Lockdown in Brussels: https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/144891/belgium-needs-short-strict-lockdown-right-now-says-expert-dirk-devroey-vub-coronavirus-figures-hospitals-germany-geert-molenberghs-measures-infections-third-wave-consultative-committee/eu/article/brussels-lockdown-live-blog/.
-The Bed Room, by Vincent Van Gogh, (1888), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

On the studio 2019-2020

THE RADICANT Architecture and migration Engagement: Urban Cultures, Campus Brussels Tutors: Caroline Sohie and Cecilia Chiappini Academic year 2019-20 Human mobility is higher than ever before and continues to surge, becoming one of the global phenomena defining the 21st century. An estimated 272 million¹ people are international migrants in the world. Migration has a radical […]


Catalina Neira – Lucie Pucholdtová: B-O-X

Latin radicandum, neuter of radicandus, gerundive of radicari – the radicant. Meaning taking root on, or above, the ground; rooting from the stem, like the trumpet creeper and the ivy. Can we use this description not only for plants, but also for people? Are people moving to other countries and across the seas a problem […]


Artun Gürkan: DIRT

Project start with tackling the Mary Douglas concept of Dirt in Urban context: For her, Dirt was ”the kind of compendium category for all events, which is a blur, smudge, other, or confuse accepted classification.”* Dirt was not about the object but where the object placed and situations of the object. It was about the […]


Sandrik Vizarraga Pavloff: HYBRID SPACE

Defintions of ‘hybrid’ and ‘hybridity: Biology « ‘Hybrid’: offspring of parents that differ in genetically determined traits. The parents may be of different species, genera, or (rarely) families. The term hybrid, therefore, has a wider application than the terms mongrel or crossbreed, which usually refer to animals or plants resulting from a cross between two […]


Tina Soltani – Georgiana Musa: THE PORTAL

Looking to the urban fabric of Brussels we can observe that it is made of overlapping historical layers, from the past till present the city suffer transformation by demolishing and adding new construction for economic reasons including the migrant’s movement in a large scale. The changes are visible today if you walk by the street […]


Anna Anuszkiewicz Ania – Vitor Breder: DENS CITY

This booklet is the last of 3 parts of a broader research developed by students of the International Masters in Architecture at KU Leuven. Led by professors Cecilia Chiappini and Caroline Sohie and following the MAIB24 Design Studio (2020.1), students were challenged to analyse, discuss and make proposals to the districts of Matongé and EU […]


Eszter Hoffmann: CULTURAL OASIS

An implementation of ‘The Radicant’ Matongé and EU neighbourhood in Brussels In this booklet you can find a proposal for the European and the Matongé neighbourhood in Brussels. This work delivered by Eszter Klára Hoffman within the Design Studio, called “The Radicant” supervised by Caroline Sohie and Cecilia Chiappini. The studio was built around the […]


Selen Sürmeli – Zeliha Öztürk: INBETWEENNESS

Inbetweenness is a research project* that focuses on the conditions regenerate in between territories, cultures, identities, and physical/imaginary states. The project presents visible and invisible layers in urban context while providing an intervention that catalyzes potential conflicts and tensions in urban/spatial level and mediates contrasting elements and existed conditions. The research starts with approaching binary […]



Preface: Integration from the homescape Set within the context of ever-increasing human mobility, the globalization of the 21st century, and the concept of the Radicant1 developed by Nicolas Bourriaud in 2009, the studio of the same name – run by Caroline Sohie and Cecilia Chiappini; explored the connection between migration, cultural identity and the built […]


Invitation: The Radicant design studio final review 27/5/20

THE RADICANT studio investigates the impact of migration flows and human mobility on the geo-political, economic and socio-cultural fabric of place. The studio examines this topic through analysis of the cultural fabric of the Matongé and Leopoldswijk; two neighbourhoods in Brussels known for their highly diverse cultural identity. Our Masters students have been exploring the […]