MolenWest: a new temporary occupation project, next to the Gare de l’Ouest railway station in Molenbeek
Space for sports activities, containers for fun and creative activities for young people run by local organisations and a fablab accessible to local residents: these are the main components of MolenWest. This new temporary occupation, initiated by the Urban Development Corporation and the municipality of Molenbeek, is planned for a site belonging to the Brussels-Capital Region.
The 4,500 m2 site is located at the corner of Chaussée de Ninove and Rue Alphonse Vandenpeereboom, right next to the entrance to Gare de l’Ouest metro station. The Region is currently working out how it will be used permanently in the future. Meanwhile, for a period currently planned to last three years, the Urban Development Corporation (SAU) and the municipality of Molenbeek have cooperated to make a temporary occupation project possible there. The aim is to provide a response to the needs of the local area surrounding this key public transport hub. It has been decided to create temporary spaces where locally active non-profit organisations can carry out their activities, on the basis of the ‘Autour du Parc de l'Ouest’ Sustainable District Contract programme and the diagnosis of the ‘Gare de l'Ouest’ Urban Regeneration Contract (CRU 3).
Minister-President Rudi Vervoort is ‘delighted by the new Molenwest project, which closely reflects the Regional Policy Declaration, promoting as it does both temporary occupation programmes in the context of regional projects and the work of civil society’.
Mayor Catherine Moureaux emphasises that ‘this district unfortunately has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the Region. We needed collective activities, and the introduction of this project is extremely positive because it will enable high-quality voluntary organisations to further increase their availability and get closer to the young inhabitants of this district.’
The conversion work is scheduled for early 2020 and the start of the temporary occupation is planned for the sprint of 2020.
The municipality and the seven organisations will hold an event to present MolenWest to the public on the site on Wednesday 11 December 2019.
The initiative is linked to the Gare de l'Ouest Urban Regeneration Contract (CRU 3) and the Autour du Parc de l'Ouest Sustainable District Contract, the latter of which includes plans to create a district centre to accommodate voluntary activities on a permanent basis.
A number of coaches will run free mixed sports sessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are also plans to reserve a time slot exclusively for women to enable them to discover street soccer, as women’s participation in sport in this area is below the regional average.
Street soccer demonstrations will also be held in local schools in order to introduce the activity to young people.
In addition, Sport2be aims to encourage the integration of vulnerable young people by developing a first link with them through sport. Support will then be offered through individual coaching by an occupational integration manager. Visits to companies and training organisations will be held to enable the young people to find out about different work and trades and how businesses function, and to prepare for recruitment interviews.
Centrum West D’Broej
The Centrum West youth centre, currently located on Rue de Menin, will extend its activities to MolenWest and continue to offer residents a range of activities in a larger setting that opens onto public space. Activities will include sport, workshops and sessions for young people and the elderly, and women's groups.
Centrum West will also arrange for three young people from the Don Bosco Training Centre to be supported by a coach and given training in carpentry, painting and landscaping; these young people will be in charge of maintenance work at MolenWest.
Samen Voor Morgen (Ensemble pour demain)
A bilingual non-profit specialising in bringing public spaces to life and forging social ties. The organisation offers various activities: a reading club for children, cookery classes, discussion groups, various games and social occasions with an emphasis on diversity and sharing.
La Rue will run a large project to support the renovation of energy-intensive privately owned housing according to various sustainable development criteria (insulation work, interior renovations or minor energy-saving alterations) in the selected buildings. Emphasis will also be placed on the renovation of the deteriorated building façades in the Gare de l'Ouest district. As part of this project, La Rue will run a permanently staffed office for residents on the site and hold information evenings there.
Fablab at the Cultural and Social Cohesion Centre
A fablab called ‘Fabwest’ will be installed on the site, with creativity and making workshops at which high-quality tools and machinery are available for use. These workshops will be open to children, young people and their families on particular days. Courses will also be organised during the school holidays. Finally, a bicycle repair shop will also be run there.
Information point for Autour du Parc de l'Ouest Sustainable District Contract and Gare de l'Ouest Urban Regeneration Contract
The socio-economic coordinators of the Autour du Parc de l'Ouest Sustainable District Contract and Gare de l'Ouest Urban Regeneration Contract will run an information point for the general public concerning these two urban development programmes.
A new schooling support class for around fifteen students twice a week – secondary level.
Every Tuesday, the various organisations at MolenWest will join forces to propose an activity day for schools. For example, by arrangement, a class could spend the day at MolenWest and experience an introduction to the fablab in the morning, a workshop in the use of a pizza oven at lunchtime and a sports activity in the afternoon – programme details to be defined.
Finally, the space will be co-built with local residents. There could be a collective vegetable garden, climbing equipment – and who knows what else? Anything is possible!