In order to prepare our cities for a long-term post-pandemic recovery, new ways of working, living and learning are to be developed. This summer school aims to explore the potential of in-between spaces/places in this regard. These are hybrid spaces, spaces in transition, boundary zones… places that are undefined, in a state of becoming.

The summer school will take place from Monday September 13th till Friday September 17th, 2021. It intends to offer an experimental playground where diverse urban actors can inspire one another and initiate processes of collaborative city-making. The USquare-site (Etterbeek) will serve as our home base. Participants will explore needs and challenges, produce scenarios and tools for working towards desirable urban futures, in and beyond the Brussels context.

Our aim is to foster rich encounters and dialogues. We therefore welcome people with diverse personal, professional and disciplinary backgrounds. Whether you are an engaged citizen or student, working in a Brussels-based organization, public administration, university, or want to start-up your own initiative, you’re very much welcome! A variety of activities will be proposed, building on participatory and engaged methods.

Do you have inspiration for making Brussels a more just, inclusive or healthy city?
Would you wish to share your experiences and/or aspirations?
Preregister now!

Who can apply?

We intend to involve diverse urban actors: scholars, artists, professionals, youth, activists, policy makers, etc. The summer school activities will be organized in English, French and Dutch. Translation will be foreseen where needed.

Two participation modes are proposed:

  • an OPEN format, where you take part in one or more activities of your choice,
  • a more intensive GROUP format, where you will explore a key-topic in a collaborative learning trajectory spanning the entire week.

The first format is open to anyone interested in the proposed activities. The second format requires a more intensive engagement. You need to be available for participating in at least five times half a day of collaborative inquiry with your group.

How to apply?

Participation in the summer school is free of charge, but participant numbers are capped.

All registrations are handled through this FORM (click to open).

In a first phase (pre-registration) you will be asked to indicate whether you are interested in taking part in the GROUP sessions or would like to participate in the OPEN format.

In a second phase (final registration) you will need to indicate in which activities you will take part and, if you would like to take part in the GROUP format, send us a (short) bio (300 words max).

The deadline for submitting applications is July 15th 2021.

Participants will be informed of acceptance by August 15th 2021.

All participants will receive a certificate of attendance. PhD-students (VUB) participating in the learning GROUP format, will be rewarded 2ECTS.

The summer school programme consists of JOINT activities (key notes, discussion, networking and celebration moments allowing to connect diverse perspectives and experiences) and PARALLEL sessions (activities allowing in-depth exploration of a chosen topic and/or practice a certain method in smaller groups).

Five steps will guide the learning process: CONVENE (coming together), OBSERVE (gaining experiences and exploring diverse perspectives), REFLECT (connect experiences and perspectives), ACT (materialize learning), HARVEST (showing, celebrating and planning next steps).

Some activities are OPEN TO ALL interested people, others are RESERVED to participants that are committed to participate in a collective learning trajectory running through the entire week. Three groups will be organized. Each one of them will be working on a different topic:

GROUP ONE: In this group the concept of in-between spaces will be explored through participatory mapping and heritage-making methods. Taking advantage of the rich history, vibrant present and exiting future of the summer school location, the USquare neighborhood will be used as an exploratory case for surfacing forms of representation, friction and negotiation characterizing the urban sphere. Participants will become more aware about the variety of cultural assets and resources, both tangible and intangible, shaping the dynamics of the inquired site. They will explore in how far spaces and moments of friction can foster cross-cultural and -disciplinary dialogue and understandings.

GROUP TWO: In this group the concept of in-between spaces will be explored through participatory walking and experiential futuring methodologies. Participants will discuss topics such as environmental justice, urban ecologies, and community-based sustainability transitions. A number of urban-farming, upcycling and recycling sites will be visited, making participants more aware about the resources-flow shaping the urban metabolism. The experiential futuring workshop will allow them to formulate needs and guidelines for working towards a more ecologically, economically and socially robust city. Participants in this group, will explore the importance of collaborative city-making processes for working towards sustainable and just urban livelihoods and environments.

GROUP THREE: In this group the concept of in-between spaces will be explored through collaborative design and decision-making methodologies. Participants will get the change to cross-pollinate experiences from diverse local and international Urban/Citizens/OpenLab initiatives and collaboratively formulate some guiding principles for installing and governing the Brussels Research Open Lab in an inclusive, ethically and ecologically sound manner. The question to be explored in this group, is how to design in-between spaces so that they foster true engagement and can function as transition spaces, enabling pioneering urban practices in which diverse urban actors have an active voice, choice and agency.



Location: U-Square-site

Address: Rue Fritz Toussaint straat 8 – 1050 Brussels

Foods & drinks: Drinks and snacks will be offered by the coordinating team. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch.

Field trips & transport: The summer school will propose diverse field trips and excursions. Some will be organized by bike, others by public transport. All transport related costs need to be covered by the summer school participants.

Online environment & tools: A selection of activities will be proposed in hybrid format. The online sessions will be organised in MS Teams. Participants will receive the e-link to the sessions they are interested in well in advance.

The detailed programme will be available by June 25th.

Organising Team

The summer school is an initiative of the Brussels Research Open Lab (VUB/ULB), communa, centre d’écologie urbaine asbl, Ebxl, Urban Foxes –  supported by

Project team members are: Minne Huysmans (VUB), Etienne Toffin (ULB), Julie Bertone (VUB), Gregoire Wallenborn (ULB), Linde Moriau (VUB), Benjamin Wayens (ULB), Brecht Van der Schueren (VUB), Antoine Dutrieu (communa asbl), Rebeca Fernandez Lopez (communa asbl),  Joost Vaesen (VUB), Simon De Muynck (Centre d’écologie urbaine asbl), Bram Dewolfs (Academy For Urban Action), Lien Mostmans (VUB), Fanny Sbaraglia (ULB), Ian Komac (VUB) en Lynn Tytgat (VUB).

This event is sponsored by Brussels Centre for Urban studies (BCUS).

For any questions regarding proposed formats and/or topics, you can contact

Funded by Brussels Centre for Urban studies (BCUS).