Launching ARCH (Action-Research Collective for Hospitality)

An initiative of Metrolab Brussels, ARCH is a collective of scholars and practitioners (sociologists, architects, urban designers...) engaged in voluntary action-research work for the advancement of urban hospitality in Brussels.


Following an initial collaboration with Médecins du Monde in the context of the book "Designing Urban Inclusion" devoted to ERDF projects, METROLAB researchers wanted to pursue action research on the qualities of hospitality of urban areas in Brussels, by moving towards the most obvious places with regard to this issue: the Maximilien Park, the Brussels North Station and, more broadly, the Northern Quarter.

Involved in a collaboration with the #Bxlrefugees platform, which welcomes, supplies and hosts hundreds of people every day among the 800 migrants and refugees present in this part of the city, ARCH intends to produce in the coming months observations and proposals concerning the social and humanitarian situation in the North Quarter.

ARCH intends in particular to develop four lines of inquiry:

  1. NORTHERN QUARTER What are the formal and informal areas/places of resource and hospitality for migrant population in the Northern Quarter, and what’s the impact of ongoing urban policies and development strategies on them, especially on the Maximilien park ?
  2. HUMANITARIAN HUB What are the qualities of hospitality of the North Station Hub and how can the BXLrefugees platform improve them, through a collective reflection on the the layout of its reception and accommodation areas?
  3. ACCOMMODATIONS How to implement accommodation strategies for the refugee population that would not be limited to mass shelters and to individual hospitality ?
  4. POLICY What are the ongoing social and urban policies in the northern quarter ? How can the expertise currently mobilized in the reflection on the future of the North Quarter, based on a mainly architectural and urbanistic perspective, be opened to the knowledge, skills and commitments of the many actors involved in this humanitarian work and to the knoweldge produced by social inquiry and action research?

To know more about ARCH, watch this video and check out the Youtube channel Arch Brussels:

ARCH is made of :

Groups of researchers involved in urban issues

Metrolab Brussels
Metrolab Brussels is an interdisciplinary and interuniversity (ULB/UCL) laboratory for applied and critical urban research, funded by ERDF-Brussels and based in the Northern Quarter. Drawing from the works of an international Masterclass on the spatial conditions of hospitality in Brussels urban projects organized in January 2017, Metrolab published Designing urban inclusion (2018). This experience of action research on issues in urban inclusion and their vicinity with Maximilien Park led them to initiate a collaboration with the BXLrefugees platform.

Mathieu Berger
Louise Carlier
Marco Ranzato

EPFLausanne, LASUR (Laboratoire de sociologie urbaine)
Laboratory of Urban Sociology (LaSUR) is a research center of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, oriented towards the comprehension of urban experiences within a social science perspective. It focusses on the social conditions that produce and appropriate cities or territories, and confronts urban phenomena through the mobility capacities of its actors. The LaSUR leads a research project on urban (in)hospitalities and the place for the newcomer in precarious situation in european cities, in a partnership with Metrolab.

Marie Trossat
Joan Stavo-Debauge
Luca Pattaroni

KU Leuven, OSA architecture&urbanism, MaHS & MaUSP (Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning)
The research group OSA Urbanism & Architecture focuses on Brussels’ North Quarter as an exemplary site to study the spatial dimensions of inclusion and exclusion in evolving development conditions. Design research has occurred in the context of Open City (1995-2000), Côté Nord (2017-2018) and North Side Stories 2.0 (2018-2019). OSA is a partner in the EU-funded project “Designing Inclusion” together with the University of Sheffield, Politecnico di Milano, Housing Europe and Architectes Sans Frontières International. Research focused on the capacity of urban practitioners to make a meaningful contribution to the reception of migrants and refugees in urban areas.

Viviana d’Auria
Racha Daher
Claire Bosmans

Collectives of Urban Practitioners involved in research processes

MAMA states maintenance as a way of being and making architecture : maintenance practices are integral part of the designed and built environment that they transform simultaneously. As from March 2019 MAMA has a research in residency at the public agency Brussels Mobility on the maintenance process as a design tool for public space. MAMA is based in Brussels.

Koen Berghmans

431 initiates frameworks for the creation, curation, and research of forms of knowledge production and presentation such as spatial interventions, text, performance and film. 431 is based in Brussels.

Wouter De Raeve

Wrkshp is a design and experimentation office that focuses on the fields of city, architecture, scenography and design.

Paul Sosson

BXL.WILDLIFE is a research and experimentation project that focuses on the relationships between the urban environment and its inhabitants (their modes of occupation, displacement, production or destruction), through various events and interventions.

Vincent P. Alexis

Participation in these sub-groups is possible for any student, researcher, or associative/volunteer interested in an inquiry work on these issues.


illustrations by Pam & Jenny — Website design & development by Variable