Cities are defined by the emptinesses between contrasts that they cannot hide.
Brussels is no exception to this. The city is a sour cocktail of high housing prices, many homeless people and an ironic number of vacant buildings.
In 123 King’s Street – situated somewhere in-between the Royal Palace, big companies’ headquarters and several multinational hotels – a seven-storey office building was one of those unused spaces. Until in 2007 tens of people without housing occupied the building and quickly signed a temporary agreement with the state owner to let them live there.
This legal squat has become a temporary palace of ongoing protest against many of society’s aberrations. The non-profit collective Woningen 123 Logements has created an alternative world. Sometimes its doors are opened to let people peek in, participate and contribute.
Instead of wasting gigantic amounts of food, you can have a hot vegetarian meal made from non-sold food from nearby (super)markets during the Tâble d’hôtes (every Sunday from 19:00). Instead of blind consumerism, you can make or mend your own schoes, clothes or accessories at the Freeprix atelier. Instead of the rage of cars, you can assemble or repair your bike at 123Vélo (Tue and Thu 18:00-21:00). Instead of couch-potatoeing, you can visit or organize a concert, exposition or film screening at the Bokal Royal. Instead of lamenting Brussels’ sometimes hideous facades, you can revel in the intriguing graffiti and paintings on the 123’s inside.
Golden Rule of the House: you always decide for yourself how much you pay for everything…