Are you looking for quirky places where culture, entertainment and industrial heritage go hand in hand? Add these hotspots to your summer agenda!
It’s a familiar phenomenon in many cities: abandoned factories, empty warehouses and other building complexes waiting aimlessly for demolition. What a waste of space. Creative repurposing is a powerful tool against vacancy and dilapidation: make room for art and culture!
Brussels understands this and temporary occupations are blossoming here. You mainly see them along the banks of the capital’s canal. Start-ups, fab labs, arts centres, associations and entrepreneurs are breathing new life into dormant sites and transforming them into locally anchored urban laboratories and creative breeding grounds.
And what's more, all summer long they organise cultural events, cosy aperitifs and - whenever possible - crazy parties. Believe us: you don’t want to miss this!
Recyclart has been a fixture for lovers of subcultures for over twenty years. The parties are legendary and the programming is offbeat. But there’s also so much more going on. With its woodwork and metal construction workshops, Recyclart Brussels trains talent for the labour market. This was the case in their previous location in the Marolles train station, and it still is in rue Manchester in Molenbeek's Heyvaert neighbourhood, where the Recyclart team transformed an old printing office into a warm, creative nest. You can go to Recyclart for a rollercoaster of concerts, performances, installations, expos and pure summer fun with a twist. While you’re there, treat yourself to one of Bar Recyclart’s vegan dishes. They come highly recommended!
Right next to Recyclart is Decoratelier, an artistic centre that set up shop in a former sugar refinery. It has been a home for artists, local residents and sympathisers since 2019. Decoratelier is attentive to the needs of vulnerable groups and focuses on inclusiveness, participation, synergy and artivism. In the courtyard, local youngsters personally constructed the Molengym equipment. Since then, they have become first-class managers and sports coaches. In August, you can experience all kinds of cultural activities at the second edition of the summer festival Something when it doesn't rain. Just thinking of the performances, film evenings, neighbourhood kitchens, concerts and experimental dance evenings for eager night owls already fills us with glee.
(c) Ivan Put
When talking about hip places with a great vibe, it’s impossible not to mention the LaVallée arts centre. This former laundry is located in the heart of Molenbeek and is a sanctuary for artistic cross-pollination. The studios and offices are an ideal base for creative people, especially from the applied arts. But LaVallée is also a comfortable space for local residents and anyone who wants to come there to chill out and soak up some culture. From 21 August, you are welcome to attend aperitifs and evenings full of music. There is nothing more enjoyable than sitting at the tables in the cosy courtyard to enjoy a snack, drink(s) and quality DJ sets all evening long.
Tour & Taxis
Tour & Taxis is in a league of its own: in fact, it is an entire district in itself. This iconic industrial site has been a hotspot for centuries and is constantly changing. From postal sorting office to goods station to a haven for festivals, fairs and museums: Tour & Taxis is always buzzing. Over the coming months, Summer of Tour & Taxis will pull out all the stops, bombarding us with numerous festive and cultural events. Here’s just a sample of what’s on offer: an urban jungle with electronic beats by Plein Air by Fuse, the Hyperrealism Sculpture exhibition and the largest open-air photo exhibition in Europe.
BE-HERE is situated next to the Tour & Taxis site in Laeken. For decades, this former BYRRH distribution centre stood idle, until the authorities decided it was time to give it a complete overhaul. BE-HERE is now a sustainable village in the city, a lively hub of social and circular economy businesses. But it is also a haven for music ensembles and theatre producers. In its beautiful, glass canopy-covered hall, you can get a craft beer from La Source, a lunch box from Fermenthings, and an exotic cocktail at vintage trainer bar Karat. And yes, that’s a thing! On Friday evenings, the atmosphere is buzzing with DJs and late-night shopping fun at the Friday Apero Afterwork. A little further down the road, you can have fun in the BXL Pump Park! BE-HERE is clearly a place to be!
Allee du Kaai
The spontaneous action zone Allee du Kaai emerged on the banks of the Brussels Canal in 2014. It was one of the first participatory projects to tackle vacancy through temporary use while simultaneously creating a social neighbourhood dynamic. The abandoned warehouses soon became a beacon of social commitment and a meeting place for local youngsters living in precarious conditions. The Allee du Kaai team is still fully committed to connecting people. In July and August, they will open their doors on Wednesdays and Saturdays to anyone who wants to experience this feat of urban magic. The site is absolutely beautiful with vegetable gardens, a skate park, a dreamy picnic spot, colourful murals and lots of surprising activities. If there is one place where you literally have to set foot, it is here.