Geopolitical borders Honorable mention 1
Work title: METROPOLITICAL VOID (0000801656)
Brussels, Belgium is one of those cities were shaped by politics. As multiple capital city – of Belgium, the EU, the NATO and a number of other international organizations – it is a place for exchange, cooperation and debate on both a national and a worldwide basis. Its development has greatly benefited from this status, but this over-politicization of the city makes it a place for protest and conflict as well. A polemic about the territorial and linguistic status of Brussels and of some municipalities in its close periphery has sparked off such a deep political crisis that Belgium is deprived of government for over a year now – a world record.
In fact, urbanization processes are the very cause of the problem. [Sub]urban expansion across the language border line and related processes of cultural and political change have ushered an intricate lot of complex issues, stirring up overall competition for control over the country’s main economical centre. The periphery of Brussels has become a political battle field for the capital city, which is now so disputed that Belgian democracy can no longer function properly. In parallel, EU democracy is also put under pressure, as it is challenged by the overall rise of nationalisms across the continent. And once again, Brussels might be part of the problem as it fails to embody the European ideal in a transparent and understandable way.
This project seeks to reframe the way Brussels is to address its representative and organizational role for democracy and political integration, through the use of landscape as a powerful political construct. A nearby forest is identified as border landscape, its latent structural role recognized and used as urban principle for generating a new metropolitan form. The city is reorganized around this neutral space that cannot be claimed by anyone, taking as center the Metropolitical Void. The traditional model for the city is thereby reversed: the border becomes center, the center becomes border.