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waste of the city - the city of waste.jpg

31 January 2016 – 6 February 2016

Designing Houthalen-Helchteren's recycling

Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium
DEADLINE: January 4th 2016
Waste of the city/the city of waste.
Designing Houthalen-Helchteren's recycling
OSA KULeuven
Municipality of Houthalen-Helchteren 

Building the city with available waste materials has been a natural practice for ages. Rome was constructed on layers of debris. Ocean edges have been remolded with landfills all over the world.
Benefiting from available waste processes and materials is something we lost since industrialization and more linear processes of urbanization and consumption dominate the practices of today. It is however an urgent necessity to rethink this resource consumptive processes. The focus of the intensive urban design workshop in Houthalen-Helchteren (HH), a municipality in Central Limburg with about 30.000 inhabitants, will be the premise that the combination between local resources and waste flows shape and will continue to shape our environments. Houthalen-Helchteren (HH) that has a complex and multilayered relation to waste, is indeed an emblematic case-study.

Since the 1980s, HH hosts one of Flanders' largest landfills and multiple waste and recycling based businesses. Centrum-Zuid, a business park in HH, is built on top of the schist residue from a flattened mining slag heap. Today, HH is in full transition towards the circular economy in which waste is again considered as a resource. Centrum-Zuid aims to redefine itself into an industrial ecosystem.
Cleantech education, start-ups and production facilities are under construction, the Remo landfill is being remined for raw materials and energy. All these places related to 'waste' are woven together by the former Coal Railway track, a partially abandoned infrastructure that is targeted to become a carrier of the region's next economy.

In the urban design workshop we will push the concept of recycling as the spatial driver for HH on multiple scales. Starting from the reconstruction of how waste shaped HH's geography over time, we will then speculate on HH's next identity by envisioning transition scenario's towards the circular economy as well as the potential relations between Houthalen-Helchteren and the Coal Track. Our interpretation and design tools will be centered around the section, aiming to relate complex material and immaterial flows and systems to their spatial footprints on multiple scales. How to envision spatial developments for HH where infrastructures, waste flows and resources are linked into a coherent vision?

Building further on previous editions of design workshops Reviving the Coaltrack (2014), Pond Urbanisms (2013) and Stiemerbeek (2012), this one week intensive urban design and landscape urbanism workshop will take place from Sunday 31/01/2016 to Saturday 06/02/2016 (7 days and 7 nights), in Houthalen-Helchteren (B).
The workshop, hosted by the municipality of Houthalen-Helchteren, will be coached by Bruno De Meulder and Julie Marin (OSA KULeuven), Matteo Motti (Politecnico di Milano) and several invited critics in the field of urban design. It will involve a close cooperation with external experts and local stakeholders at the Flemish, provincial and local levels (municipality Houthalen-Helchteren, Greenville, The Locals, Quares, vzw Centrum-Zuid, TOP Limburg). The workshop results will be presented to and debated with various publics and become part of the Architecture Biennale IABR 2016 exhibition in Rotterdam – The next economy.

13 young professional urban designers and landscape architects (or graduated architects that are following postgraduate courses in urbanism or landscape architecture or graduated urban designers and/ or landscape architects) are invited to participate. This call is also open to graphic designers and digital experts (programmers, data visualizers, ...) with a strong affinity with urban design.

On-site accommodation, transportation and catering will be fully supported by the organization.

Please send a CV and a short portfolio before January 4th 2016 to:
Julie Marin | Email:
Matteo Motti | Email:
(who can also provide you all further information you might require). 

Sunday 31/01/2016 – Saturday 06/02/2016 (7 days and 7 nights) 

15 international, graduated urban designers, landscape architects, urbanists, graphic designers and the like.

Event schedule:

  • Start: 01-31-2016
  • End: 02-06-2016.