Campus Atelier is based on a sensitivity to the dynamics that underlie the current urban development logic. The initiators, Elly Van Eeghem, Maarten Jolie and Olivier Giot, question the difference between who currently plans the city and who uses it. With Campus Atelier, they put the users of the city forward as city makers. The design atelier takes participatory urban planning a step further by co-producing the district together with the residents and users. The public space of the Nieuw Gent district forms the co-production site. Together with the residents of the district, Campus Atelier aims to shape what public or open space means and can mean. The key question is how to turn the public domain into public spaces that connect people. For Campus Atelier, public spaces are both large and small, ranging from a lawn, a square or a street to a hole in the public road or a privatised open space.
Campus Atelier’s work is often carried out in the border area between various parts of the city with different characters: the social housing estate of Nieuw Gent, the garden district of Steenakker and the Miljoenenkwartier. Campus Atelier operates from the Open Atelier in an old drinks factory and focuses on the immediate surroundings of the Nieuw Gent residential district, which is surrounded by a university campus, a hospital campus and schools. Campus Atelier responds to changes in the public domain that are part of the urban renewal project 'Nieuw Gent Vernieuwt'. In this environment, Campus Atelier strives to transform the 'boundaries' - or breaking points where transfer is impossible - into 'borders'. Borders are porous and unruly, but offer opportunities for openness and interaction, and make it possible to establish connections between the various parts of the city and the surrounding campuses. The initiators want to use Campus Atelier to create 'borders' by intervening in the public space, activating and/or creating more open space, making the existing hidden green open space visible, and connecting the scattered pieces of open space in the neighbourhood. By working in the boundaries between the neighbourhoods and not in the centre of the neighbourhood, Campus Atelier aims to bring people from different communities and backgrounds together in the public space. The local residents and neighbourhood organisations are the devisers, designers, builders and users of these interventions in the public space. Campus Atelier enthuses, coordinates and facilitates. New social dynamics are thus set in motion and shared places on the border are developed collectively.
In concrete terms, Campus Atelier organises small-scale interventions in the public space from the open atelier. These include a pavilion in the park, a bench in the neighbourhood square, a shady spot for allotments and a stage on a piece of wasteland. In addition, local residents can also use the Open Atelier for their own projects. Finally, Campus Atelier also attaches importance to the social activation of the public space by eating and drinking together in the open space and by organising walks in the neighbourhood, passing by public places. The daily operations of Campus Atelier are actively supported by the City of Ghent. This collaboration will continue until 2023. Campus Atelier also works closely with various local organisations, such as community health centres.
Elly Van Eeghem, Maarten Jolie, Olivier Giot
participation, solidarity, cultural change, local development?, temporary use
photo: Annelies de Vet, Elly Van Eeghem, Leo Van Broeck. Design Museum Ghent, Ghent 2021