“Traditionally, art institutions and cultural infrastructures such as theatres, museums and libraries were built to support the values of the nation-state. Such institutions had the task, among other things, to simulate a uniform language and a monoculture for a population within a geopolitical space. From the 1970s onwards there has been strong criticism on this model […]. A solution is then sought in a more multicultural approach where multiple cultures must be represented equally. However, multiculturalism is based on an identity policy that takes harmony and consensus too easily for granted. Other models are to be sought. Instead of smoothing out dissent and suppressing tensions, can’t we make them visible and ‘liveable’. It makes no sense to assume equality between cultures, when there is an urgent need to focus on the ‘lesser’ in a society, on those who are not yet represented and do not have a voice independent of their cultural background, gender or social class. Such model does not focus on identities, but on the democratic free keeping and releasing of common necessary sources, such as education, language, culture, but also labour, health care and housing. Such resources are the subject of continuous struggle and discussion.”1

Such solutions are yet to be designed!

Capping of the ring road and fractures of society: design and build for the meantime

The capping of the heavily congested ring road in Antwerp will bridge areas and communities that have been separated for decades. For some communities this new piece of infrastructure is seen as an asset for new opportunities, whilst elsewhere communities are not really interested in being connected with each other. Moreover, the long construction period of the new infrastructure risks to increase separation of the involved communities, rather than bringing them closer to each other.

Can the cap of the ring become a new common? And for whom? Can temporary commons provide solutions for overcoming the decrease of interaction during the time of construction? Can the construction period be an occasion for intensifying communication between communities?

The city administration wants to involve all inhabitants of these neighbourhoods in the definition of a program, and solutions for the meantime. IDW aims to lever this process.

IDW2020 immerses itself in such an affected area, and occupy empty buildings in the area Luchtbal and Lambrechtshoeken. 17 groups of 17 students and their workshop leaders will work, lecture, discuss, eat and drink and design new commons, either as drawn or built concepts, implemented services, or as tactical interventions. As a real living lab tutors and students will also have the occasion of working together with residents of all ages and all origins.

1Paraphrazing Pascal Gielen, “Emancipating Cultures beyond Multiculturalism From Canonizing Cultural Institutions towards Commoning Art Constitutions”, Bilgi University Istanbul, February 28, 2019.