House for Seasonal Neighbours

Making space for encounter in the temporary reality of seasonal workers

The mobile ‘House for Seasonal Neighbours’ originated in Borgloon, a small town in the heart of the Belgian fruit region with the highest concentration of seasonal workers (one fifth of the population or about 2,000 people). These workers come from Eastern and Southern Europe during the picking season. The intervention addresses the need for informal meeting places, as most workers have very little chance of escaping the context of their temporary residence on the farm, except to go shopping. The mobile was designed and built by artist-architects Maximiliaan Royakkers and Ciel Grommen. Two regional archetypes – the row house and the container house – were rescaled, skewed and overlapped to form a familiar but surprising hybrid. The mobile was first set up next to a discount supermarket in the summer of 2018 for sixty-five days, the maximum period ascribed by Belgian law for seasonal workers in agriculture. In the summer of 2021, Mona Thijs used the House for Seasonal Neighbours as a mobile studio for a radio show series ‘Playlist van de pluk’. It is an investigation into the poetry of multilingualism (or the absence of a common language) and a search for music that is meaningful to seasonal workers during the picking process.

partners and actors
Ciel Grommen, Maximiliaan Royakkers, Mona Thijs (Seasonal Neighbours collective)
community, food