Parckfarm in Molenbeek wins Public Space Prize

Summary

The urban community space Parckfarm in the canal district of Brussels has won the Public Space Prize for its ingenuity in method and design

Built by residents

Parckfarm, the urban farm in Brussels developed on a former dumping ground by local residents, has been awarded the Public Space Prize 2015. The annual award is presented by the Antwerp-based Public Space Infopoint to the best public space project in Brussels or Flanders.

Parckfarm is part of the Parckdesign project, which involved creating a park in the Molenbeek district from the NMBS line 28 by Pannenhuis metro to the canal, following what used to be the freight railway to Tour & Taxis. The first phase is complete, and the second phase – from the Jubelfeest bridge to the canal – is now under way.

Parckfarm is built around a glass farmhouse, which is the centre of local activities and a cafe as well as the administrative offices of the non-profit that runs the site. Parckfarm is also home to a communal kitchen, a series of beehives, an animal park with chickens and sheep, and a communal wood-fired oven where locals can bake bread or pizzas.

The project was one of 50 considered for the prize. The committee was looking for evidence of a new approach to initiatives involving spontaneous participation that forced organisers to let go of traditional design ideas. “In that respect, Parckfarm stood head and shoulders above the rest,” the committee said. “We have never seen something on such a scale in Belgium.”

Parckfarm was developed by local residents, who took it upon themselves to clean up the area and to start gardening on the former waste land. The public project was meant to end last autumn, but, thanks to its huge success, it was extended for a year. The new non-profit that runs the site is now seeking support to keep it running indefinitely. The Public Space Prize is expected to give a boost to the fundraising currently taking place.
Photo courtesy Parckdesign