Buda Factory

The conversion of a former textile factory into the Buda Factory represents the final chapter of the transformation of Buda Island into an arts island. The Buda Factory is an economic-artistic workshop and operates at the interface between art and design, economy and education, and science and technology. Entrepreneurs, students, artists, scientists and active citizens come together to meet and work (collaborate) on artistic projects or innovative products.

Buda Island is located in the densely-populated centre of Kortrijk. This area was an island for industry that relied on the water, especially for textile production, occupied by a number of (social) housing blocks and several care institutions. The Buda district became vacant in the 80s and 90s, due to the departure of the former industry. At the end of the last century, the City of Kortrijk started to repurpose and redevelop the district. The city council transformed many of the industrial artefacts into urban clusters for new cultural programmes, in its aim to become a city of culture and design. The 'Buda' urban renewal project focused on co-production: the City of Kortrijk not only worked closely with other authorities such as the Intercommunale Leiedal, but also with public and private partners.

The mutual coordination of spatial transformation and socio-cultural programming characterises the conversion of the industrial premises of the abandoned Desmet-Dejaeghere textile factory as well. The factory is owned by a local care institution, which initially wanted to demolish the building in order to construct a new one comprising a day-care centre and residential and care facilities. Ultimately, the residential and care campus was integrated in a unique multifunctional zone with cultural activities, housing and a semi-public inner area. The empty factory was redeveloped to produce a new type of cultural venue: a workplace for innovation, production, creation and cultural expression. Designregio vzw, a cooperation partnership between the City of Kortrijjk, Intercommunale Leiedal, Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen and Voka, played an important role in this endeavour.

In the design by the architectural firm 51N4E, the unfinished, industrial character of the building is preserved as much as possible. The architectural team of 51N4E arranged the existing and additional rooms in such a way as to enable maximum flexibility in the use of the space, which promotes the blending and interweaving of functions. Art and product development are united in the Buda Factory. The Buda Factory houses amongst others the Buda::Lab. The Buda::Lab is a public workplace where creative people, designers, makers, children, students and schools can get creative. Ideas are converted into concrete projects and new skills are taught in workshops. During the course of the development, a number of facilities were added to the Buda Factory. Temporary exhibitions also take place and offices, work, meeting and networking spaces are being developed. In addition to serving as a creative breeding ground for artists and designers, the Buda Factory will also become a place where entrepreneurs, students and educational institutions can take up residence. The new purpose of the Buda Factory reaffirms manufacturing’s place as an integral part of the urban fabric. The link with the neighbourhood and residents is maintained through initiatives that respond to local needs, such as a repair café, and through extensive cooperation with students from local creative study programmes and schools in the neighbourhood.

making industry, learning
innovative aspects
ownership, cultural change
building, district, municipality

Buda Art Factory in pictures
The Buda Factory is the first economic-artistic workshop in Belgium. Among other things, it houses the Buda::Lab, a public workshop where creative people, designers, makers, children, students and schools can get creative.

The indefinable feeling of the Buda factory
articleThe indefinable feeling of the Buda factory
"The aim is for the laboratory to become a meeting place between industry, artists and schools. Hopefully our open approach will lead to interesting encounters between people from different disciplines and result in exciting, innovative projects."

The indefinable feeling of the Buda factory

photo: Thomas Peeters / De Tijd, 2012

New identity for a city district
articleNew identity for a city district
The reconversion of a former textile factory into the Buda Factory is the final piece in the transformation of Buda Island into an art island.

New identity for a city district

photo: Kenniscentrum Vlaamse Steden, 2018

Buda: a creative island for Kortrijk and its region
articleBuda: a creative island for Kortrijk and its region
"In the mid-1980s, the Flemish government planned major infrastructure works to straighten, widen and deepen the Leie. The municipality of Kortrijk and the intermunicipal association of Leiedal used these infrastructure works to stimulate urban development." The redevelopment of the former industrial island of Buda is the result of this effort.

Buda: a creative island for Kortrijk and its region

photo: Vlaamse Overheid, 2015