CITY MINE(D) AND WATER
City Mine(d) is a platform for urban interventions. It emerged in 1997 from a network of community activists, architects and artists with as founding aims the revitalisation of deprived areas in large metropoles through interventions in public space. Its work has since gained acclaim for its impact on urban governance, its pioneering role in social innovation, or its new approach to urban development. City Mine(d) already delivered over 100 projects in 23 European cities, and organises networking and exchange between initiatives active in urban public space. City Mine(d) currently has offices in Brussels and London.
Over the last years City Mine(d) has moved on from punctual interventions to a more sustained focus on subjects that shape life in cities more widely. From 2006 to 201, Micronomics formed the common denominator for a variety of initiatives that explored a bottom-up perspective on the urban economy. Practical experiences like the WaffleBank, Soupmachine, MicroMarché, conferences, debates, festivals and short films were the expression of an active interrogation of the way economic activity is measured, of local skills in a globalised economy and of the role of public good in the urban economy.
In late 2010, City Mine(d) renewed its activities in Brussels’ European neighbourhood. Together with local actors it identified a derelict space in the shadow of the European parliament building, that could serve as a place for meeting and experiment. Being in the valley of the river Maelbeek, the place of water in the area turned out to be a common thread among the different initiatives brought together in a space now called “Friche Eggevoort”. Civil society groups active around water in the city are Maelbeek Mon Amour, Chercheurs d’histoires, EauWaterZone and Open Source and as a hub connecting all these initiatives the Etats Généraux de l’Eau de Bruxelles [The Estates General of Water in Brussels], a citizens movement aiming at “reconciling water and city” by means of action and research.
Although very interested in water as a common good, solidarity within river basins and new professions to be generated from an increased role for water in the city, City Mine(d) could not hide its hands-on streak. It decided to explore the potential of rain water by means of a rain harvesting pavilion, now called ProperWaterPavilion, at the same time investigating the technicity of water management and sanitation. Other projects that spun off from this challenge were the Pacco-test, a surface water test-kit, and the City Mine(d) TAP, a low spillage hands-free tap. This booklet shows how the challenge of building the ProperWaterPavilion became a generator of ideas and desires, sometimes only remotely related to water, but also how such initiatives can bring together local residents and strengthen their voice in the processes that shape their local area.
At the time of writing, June 2013, City Mine(d) is an active part of the collective PUM1 in the European Neighbourhood, it continues working with the ProperWaterPavilion2, and makes the Pacco-test ready to go live. In the near future its focus will also shift towards experiments in “augmented democracy”.3 Starting from the idea that policy should be made first and foremost by those subject to it, and that it should be based upon local knowledge and lived experience, the “augmented democracy” project will propose a set of online tools along with a number of methods to facilitate decision making in an attempt to make local democracy more inclusive and more fair.
Eau Propre | Proper Water
by City Mine(d)
is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Belgium License