In the 1970s, the lively neighbourhood around Brussels-North Station was destroyed to make room for ‘Little Manhattan’, a modernist dream with the two World Trade Centre towers as its crown jewels. The project failed, leaving the towers and surrounding area largely abandoned. Since late 2017, the owner of the towers has shown a renewed interest in the area. Closely witnessing the changes from their studio space on the 25th floor of WTC tower 1, Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve decided to enter the debate by making a film with the actors that claim a voice in the transition: politicians, an activist, the private owner, designers and others. Taking the WTC towers as its object, the film project unravels power relations between the different actors involved in the urban redevelopment, and traces the influx of new progressive, ecological and horizontalist ideas and their impact on the area.
WTC A Love Story uses fiction as a method to explore what stories enter the stage when the process of political representation is accelerated.
Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve
Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve work together under the name ‘431’. Since 2015, they shared an office space on the 25th floor of WTC tower 1 with a large group of other artists. They initiated the filmproject ‘WTC A Love Story’ to investigate if they could have an influence on the transition in the Northern Quarter by making a film about it.
Mathieu Berger is a researcher and professor of sociology at UCL. As part of Metrolab Brussels, he co-initiated the collective ARCH, researching the qualities of hospitality of urban areas in Brussels, on the Maximilian Park, the Brussels North Station and, more broadly, the Northern Quarter.
Marie Anaïs Bluteau
the social designer
Marie Anaïs Bluteau works for Vraiment Vraiment, a design office based in Paris. She moved to Brussels to represent Vraiment Vraiment as part of the coalition of Lab North.
the Brusselse Bouwmeester
Kristiaan Borret is the Brusselse Bouwmeester – Maître Architecte of Brussels Capital Region since 2015. The Bouwmeester is an independent government official who stimulates and supervises the quality of urban development projects. Kristiaan Borret helped Befimmo and Up4North set up collaborations with the design and architecture firms that are part of Lab North.
Gert Bouquiaux and Pieter Torbeyns
the community workers
Gert Bouquiaux and Pieter Torbeyns work for the local community center De Harmonie, which helps elderly and those in need of care in the Northern Quarter. De Harmonie is part of the non-profit organization ‘Buurtwijk Noordwijk’, which was set up during the demolition of the Northern Quarter in the ’60s and ’70s to defend the interests of the inhabitants of the quarter.
Jan Denoo recently finished his masters Urban Studies at the VUB with a thesis on urban experimentation as a new mode of planning the Northern Quarter. He initiated the activist Facebook-page ‘Which Way is North’, which he describes as “an attempt to break open the debate around the Northern Quarter”.
Chaïma Ghaïda and Arnaud van Puyenbroeck
the social workers
Chaïma Ghaïda and Arnaud van Puyenbroeck are coordinators of ‘Projet de Cohésion Sociale Quartier Nord’. They assist the residents of the social housing blocks next to the WTC towers in organising neighborhood activities.
Werner Joris is Head of Business Development of Befimmo, the real estate company that owns the ground lease of the WTC towers since 2017.
the spokesman of Bxl Refugees
Mehdi Kassou initiated the Citizen Support Platform for Refugees in September 2015, during the peak moment of the migration crisis in Belgium. The initiative’s history departs from the Maximilian Park at the foot of the WTC towers, where a migration hub emerged in 2015.
Sven Lenaerts is a freelance consultant and program manager of Up4North – an association set up by property owners of the Northern Quarter, aiming to redynamise the area. Up4North initiated the coalition Lab North; a collaboration between Up4North, design agency Vraiment Vraiment, and architecture offices 51N4E and Architecture Workroom Brussels.
Ans Persoons is head of the political party Change.Brussels, and deputy mayor alderwoman of Town Planning, Public Spaces and Dutch-language Education and Affairs of Brussels Capital Region since 2018.
Freek Persyn is founding partner of the architectural office 51N4E. Winning a competition organized by the Brussels Bouwmeester, 51N4E was assigned 27,5% of the contract for the transition of the WTC-towers. The remaining 72,5% of the contract was assigned to the architecture firm Jaspers-Eyers Architects.
- A project by
- Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve (431)
- Produced by
- Daan Milius & Hans van Hezik for Video Power
- Pieter Dumoulin
- Kwinten van Laethem
- Caszimir Cleutjens
- Graphic design
- B&R, Bern/Bruxelles
- Kaaitheater, A+ architecture in Belgium, arp:
- The Arts and Heritage Agency of the Flemish Community, VGC, The ministry of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region responsible for Mobility and Public Works, Provincie Limburg (NL), Gemeente Maastricht, Mondriaan Fonds, Jan van Eyck Academie
- Lietje Bauwens, Mathieu Berger, Marie-Anaïs Bluteau, Kristiaan Borret, Gert Bouquiaux, Jan Denoo, Wouter De Raeve, Chaïma Ghaïda, Werner Joris, Mehdi Kassou, Sven Lenaerts, Ans Persoons, Freek Persyn, Arnaud Van Puyenbroeck, Pieter Torbeyns
- Tom Adjibi, Kris Cuppens, Valentijn Dhaenens, Davis Freeman, Hervé Guerrisi, Stefan Jakiela, Heike Langsdorf, Hervé Piron, Janneke Remmers, Nathalie Rozanes, Stine Sampers, Peter Vandenbemt
- special thanks to
- Daan Milius & Christopher Roth