Away from the favourites of mainstream culture, off the beaten track, Brussels celebrates and beats to its own rhythm. Brussels’ underground culture is breathing new life into abandoned spaces, transforming them into exciting and innovative artistic places of curiosity.
These five underground venues are not to be missed.
1. Recyclart: pioneer of Brussels’ underground culture
The resistance fighter of the Brussels underground scene. In early 2018, Recyclart, a multidisciplinary artistic organisation, was forced to move from the Brussels-Chapelle station where it was originally established. It is now located in a former printing house on rue de Manchester in Molenbeek. Its new home is spacious and cosy with its retro bar and wooden terrace – the ideal place to enjoy a summer aperitif.
Recyclart is a three-in-one venue. It’s an art centre which hosts exhibitions, concerts, conferences and social events. But it also has an artisanal production centre, Fabrik, which organises training courses for low-skilled job seekers. And not only that, it’s a bar and restaurant with a sustainable and ethical philosophy: fresh vegetables, little waste, veggie dishes.
2. La Vallée, Berlin-style
It’s hard to imagine such a spacious place nestled in this city-centre neighbourhood. With its large interior courtyard and industrial style, La Vallée is reminiscent of underground locations in Berlin. Today, this former laundry hosts exhibitions, concerts, conferences and other workshops – and offers workspaces to more than 150 creative entrepreneurs involved in all kinds of projects.
Four years after its opening, this place is more dynamic than ever. LaVallée celebrates Belgian urban artists and is a refuge for independent culture. A Mecca of underground Brussels that certainly deserves a visit.
3. Studio CityGate, a creative hive
Studio CityGate has awakened the soul of this former 22,000m² pharmaceutical factory. A gigantic space, transformed into a real creative hive buzzing with temporary occupants. Each floor tells a story. It is now home to a skate park, a recording studio (Volta), exhibitions, a coworking space and a climbing wall, among other things. And at the very top, the large windows offer a breath-taking view of the city.
Located 10 minutes from the Gare du Midi, Studio CityGate is an underground Brussels venue with a thousand faces, every single one of them welcoming and friendly. A place for the whole family. Want to check it out with your children? Great! Some areas have been designed especially with them in mind.
© Merlin Meuris
4. See U, project laboratory
Brussels is certainly full of surprises. Located in the former Fritz Toussaint barracks, the temporary project See U has the look and feel of an urban and creative laboratory. With its social and sustainable philosophy, this venue, which opened last spring, has already become a staple of the Brussels underground scene.
Just a stone’s throw from Etterbeek station, See U is quite the eye-catcher. With its 25,000m² and its huge street-art fresco, it is the largest temporary occupation project in Brussels. A cinema, organic markets, craft workshops, Elektronic brunch: this is where all generations come together, creating a vibrant atmosphere. See U has also become home to all kinds of projects (more than 80 in total), each of which can use the offices and premises for a period of two years.
5. La Manufacture 111: the kings of underground hip hop in Brussels
Fans of urban music and street art have found their new spiritual home: Manufacture 111. This urban creation centre located in Ixelles hosts exhibitions, concerts, dance events, projections, live painting events, and much more. The Manufacture 111 project first took off in Paris before being launched in Brussels in 2017.
Its goal? To celebrate urban cultures by offering a multidisciplinary programme. This Brussels underground venue has earned quite the reputation by regularly hosting legendary hip hop groups from the 90s. Souls Of Mischief, Non Phixion and the Snowgoons have graced the stage there recently... The fans love it!