État des Lieux

reflective intervention, 2014


État des Lieux is a ‘reflective intervention’ in various public spaces in Brussels. How society operates is nowhere more directly visible than in the public space. The arrangement and use of the public space are the result of countless political and societal choices, whether explicit or not. The definition of the public space is the subject of an ongoing societal debate.
The public space is not only the object of, but also the stage for, an ongoing contest at all levels of society. It is where we can witness the confrontation between the public and private spheres, between society and the individual, between collective and private property, and between control and freedom. It is in the public space that we determine what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. The public space regulates.

Whoever immerses him- or herself in the specialist literature of architecture and urban planning inevitably comes across some of the renowned names in philosophy and the social sciences. Figures such as Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Jürgen Habermas and Walter Benjamin are the ever-recurrent protagonists in the footnote apparatus of the professional literature. Although their concepts are known to a wide audience, few people have extensive knowledge of their research. État des Lieux explores precisely what these footnote figures have to say in order to hone our understanding of the public space.

In what way can the Gramscian concept of cultural hegemony be a source of inspiration in studying the public space? What influence has Habermas’s theory of communicative action had on the organization of the public space? Can a Latourian actor-network reading of the public space contribute anything to the current debate?
État des Lieux explores the way in which the ideas of philosophers and theorists are translated in the public space and how schools of thought have influenced urban planners and designers.

Over the course of six Saturday evenings in August and September, État des Lieux invites you for an immersion into theory and its relation to public space in Brussels. In a number of significant places throughout the city, theorists and experts in architecture and urban planning explore the way in which the ideas of philosophers and theorists are translated in the public space and have influenced urban planning and design.

État des Lieux is a project by Wouter De Raeve and City3 in collaboration with BC Architects and Studies, Louisa Vermoere and UPV Uitstraling Permanente Vorming. État des Lieux is organized with support of Agentschap Kunsten en Erfgoed van de Vlaamse overheid and Stad Brussel – dienst Nederlandstalige Aangelegenheden.