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Discover child-friendly Brussels at our World Conference

Zennepark, Brussels. Photo by

Not only is our Child in the City World Conference an opportunity for you to meet and learn from your professional peers, but it also offers the chance to get out in the communities of Brussels.

Our three-day conference from November 20-22 includes a number of field trips, which will showcase some superb examples of projects that are already making a difference to youngsters’ lives.

What about a walking trip to see an example of urban diversity in action? Then look no further than Kappellekerk Nieuwland. This guided walk takes you past realisations of a sustainable neighbourhood contract Jonction , through redesigned public spaces, like Skatepark Kapellekerk or Nieuwland, a school with multicultural initiatives for young and old. These projects give a place to everyone in the heart of Brussels.

Still on foot, you can also choose to find out more about urban school planning policies in Brussels. The historic centre of the Belgian capital is a vibrant neighbourhood thanks to its residents and a lot of children and young people attending the many primary and secondary schools in this area.
This tour allows you to visit a number of school sites, and it’s here you will discover refurbished playgrounds and stroll along pedestrian streets in the schools areas, which gives sufficient space to the very young in the city centre.

This walk also takes you to the heart of Dansaert, an iconic district known for its design stores
es, but where you will find other creative projects such as the cultural and sports centre Hageltoren/Tour à Plomb, the primary school ‘Kleurdoos’-playground, a school street and the Institute De Mot Couvreur. These experiences offer a vital, thought-provoking insight into the co-creation of school urbanism and also, crucially, show you that schools are becoming much more than educational institutions.

If walking’s not your thing then you can also hop on a local Metro with us to visit the Heyvaert Abbatoir, which is the reconversion of an impoverished industrial neighbourhood. This district has one of the city’s highest rates of young children,  and as such it is seeing investment in in housing and new cultural facilities such as the Manchester site, but also in public space such as the new Porte de Ninove park and Libelcohal.

Another impressive site is Recyclart, which is a longstanding social and cultural project, combining a craftsmanship center for low-skilled workers to enter the job market with an arts centre, bar, restaurant and nightclub. In addition, they organize an educational project on architecture for children called ArchiKids.Cultureghem uses the famous site of slaughterhouse and market place Abbatoir as a public cocreative space of 10.000 m² on the days when there is no market. On Wednesday they host the largest covered playground in the city. pe, and second most in the world, Brussels shows a striking diversity in its city centre.
These projects give a place to everyone in the heart of Brussels
From stately institutions, contrasts between the upper and lower city, hidden spots to a variety of neighbourhoods. This walk takes you past realisations of a sustainable neighbourhood contract Jonction, through redesigned public spaces, like Skatepark Kapellekerk or Nieuwland, a school with multicultural initiatives for young and old. These projects give a place to everyone in the heart of Brussels.

A celebration of culture and the arts meanwhile can be seen at Noordwijk, a very densely populated district that is also with creativity. Examples like Art Basics for Children work towards a new cross-curricular educational culture where art (education) is woven into the curriculum. The ABC House is a dynamic research centre which focuses on art, culture and education. It organises many workshops for creation, but also has an architecture studio, children’s kitchen, lab class and quiet room, which invite its visitors to discover and experiment.

This tour ends with a visit to Zinneke in the Masui building, a permanent meeting, creation, training and production place. This non-profit organisation organizes the biennial Zinneke parade. It showcases the artistic production of residents, associations, schools and artists, coming from all over the Brussels Capital Region.

Everyone who visits Brussels should get on a bike at least once, and so naturally we can also offer you a bike tour to the distrcit of Bockstatel, which is a great example of old neighbourhoods and new developments – and the children there – working alongside each other.

The immense industrial buildings of Tour & Taxis have been given a second life with four hectare Gare Maritime as its stunning new centre. Right next to this impressive piece of architecture, you’ll find the non-profit organisation Parckfarm. It thrives on neighbourhood residents for agricultural, social, educational and ecological activities and is a place to be for many children. A new connection for active mobility leads to Laeken’s old town square: the innovative parc Pannenhuis designed in the track bed of a former railway line. This park challenges traditional concepts of a playground and stretches out to a brand new sports and youth infrastructure. Just across the road we find Community Centre Nekkersdal, a place where six organisations work together to welcome babies, children, young adults and their parents.

Click here for more on the field trips.

Click here for the full conference schedule and here for the list of speakers and presenters.

Author: Simon Weedy

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