Design the transition II | Transitory occupations

25 April 2019, 17:00 - 19:00   —  
The Eco-Century Project®
— Conferences

In several cities, changing urban sites are the subject of a new body of practices classified under the expression “transitory urbanism”. This encompasses all initiatives that aim to temporarily reactivate local life on unoccupied land or buildings when the use of the site has not yet been decided or while a project is being created. Transitional urban planning invests in empty buildings, built-up sites at the scale of urban projects or vacant lots, with multi-site strategies or on an ad hoc basis.

The opening up of possibilities on these sites sparks innovation, creativity and diversity of uses, catalysts for an open city, co-built and meeting the needs of its active inhabitants (residents, workers, students, etc.). Transitional urban planning often succeeds in creating social value in a short time, which traditional urban projects only do in the long term. These grassroots initiatives therefore question the modalities of the urban fabric.

Transitional town planning does not aim to temporarily occupy a space, unlike temporary town planning. The notion of transitory town planning wants to take on both dimensions of the term ‘transition’: on the one hand, that of the passage from BEFORE to AFTER which raises the question of the capacity of transitory uses to support and influence the transformation of a project site and to achieve a qualitative connection between past, current and future uses of the place; and, on the other hand, that of the ecological transition which raises the question of the capacity of these transitory uses to convey the story of the (energetic, ecological, economic, social and political) transition. In the debate on density, transitory urban planning constitutes one of the best weapons allowing civil society to fight for a qualitative city densification, structured and regulated by public space.

It will also be a question of pinpointing the risk of an “eventisation” of urban policies to the detriment of a systematic work on spatial injustices, which could then relegate the transitory to temporary, undoubtedly less of a driving force for a real transition.


Case study 3


  • Anna Ternon, architect-urban planner, PhD student Metrolab Brussels, CULouvain
  • Brussels Ecosystems’ team

Case study 4



  • Chloé Salembier, doctor in Anthropology, lecturer, researcher CULouvain



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