Lab North

The Northern Quarter of Brussels is a monofunctional office district that represents a trauma in the development of the city, having caused the eviction of more than 11,000 people in the 1960s. The district, characterized by office towers and large boulevards, had fallen victim to increased vacancy and disinvestment. In response to this, in 2016, 51N4E engaged in an open network called Lab North and moved its offices to the district.

Starting with an academic workshop on the topic of adaptive reuse, we set the first step in the district. During this workshop, connections were made between owners in the district and the civic and academic organizations that would later temporarily use the emblematic World Trade Centre tower. From September 2017 to December 2018, WTC1 gradually opened up to more than 50 small organizations, an architecture school’s studio, and various colloquial events. 51N4E was engaged in multiple ways: as teacher, temporary occupant, activist, architect, exhibition designer, and urban gardener. During this time, WTC1 turned into a 1:1 model for the hybrid and multi-tenant use of vertical tower buildings.

At present, Lab North is based in the CCN building next to the Brussels North train station. Together with other practices that are part of this network, 51N4E continues to contribute to the thinking and doing process of dealing with the traumatic modernist district.

  • Location

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Description

    Open network of organisations involved in the Brussels North District

  • In collaboration with

    Up4North, AWB, VraimentVraiment, and many others

  • 51N4E involvement

    Temporal use, scenography, writing, urban design

  • Photography

    Filip Dujardin, Alexis Gicart, Tim Vandevelde

  • Image credits