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Just a few streets away from downtown Brussels and across from the building where the King’s children go to school every day, an old abandoned railway station covered in graffiti, exhibitions’ leftovers and seemingly random stencils houses one of the most alternative art venues in the Belgian capital. Situated on the border between two offbeat neighborhoods, Recyclart is a true mirror of the Brussels atmosphere with all its cultures, communities and often unconventional outlook on life.
Everything started back in 1997 when the founders of Recyclart occupied the out-of-use train station Brussel-Kapellekerk/Bruxelles-Chapelle. Without the location and the neighborhood they wouldn’t and couldn’t be what they are. The station embodies the idea behind the project – alternative, slightly rough and grungy, a bit out of the way, but with a vision of connecting people and ideas, regeneration of public space and revival of the local community. When you add the noise of hundreds of trains passing every hour, it is an enchanting place you shouldn’t miss.
Recyclart ‘lives’ in the neighborhood of Les Marolles, a true Brussels quarter which echoes the feel of old Brussels. While being close to the center, the area has a completely different vibe of authenticity and individuality. Recyclart strives to breathe life into this part of town (still considered a bit rough around the edges) by capturing the energy of its inhabitants. A number of socio-cultural activities organized by the locals in collaboration with artists are engaging the community to bring them closer to the arts and to one another.
Before indulging in what Recyclart has to offer, walk around, pop into the nearby antique shops and lose yourself in the piles of memorabilia dreaming of different times, do some vintage shopping in the second-hand stores or kill time searching for treasures at the nearby flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle.
Now go back to enjoy some art. The converted cultural space hosts a variety of events all year round focusing on design, architecture and urban design, digital art, photography, experimental art, performance, music. After a stroll around, you can stay on and listen to the cool underground (or not so much) bands they welcome regularly in the concert hall. There are projects set in other groovy locations, so look out for what is happening in Gare Bruxelles-Congrès as well.
If you happen to pass by around lunch time, you shouldn’t miss Bar Recyclart’s lunch menu, which is served from 12:00 till 15:00, Tuesday to Friday. You can taste delicious food from around the world at reasonable prices. Every last Thursday of every month, the bar stays open in the evening to complement the opening of an exhibition or a concert and keep up the spirits of the public.
“The tourists who come by are usually lost looking for Manneken-Pis or Grand Place,” jokes the team, “but more and more people find our place, so there is a positive evolution.” The typical Recyclart goer is between twenty five and thirty five with a flair for the unconventional, but the reality is you can bump into anybody there – from regular visitors, artists and creative professionals to local neighbors, youngsters and random passers-by.
The space will surely make you feel at home – whether just for fun at the open-air skatepark, a beer on the benches out front or during a gig. Come in the daytime to enjoy the artistic atmosphere and meet a bunch of easy-going people or drop by at night if you are in the mood for a party.
Recyclart not only shows art, it supports art. Young and aspiring artists in a variety of fields are given space (24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a maximum of six months) and assistance to create and show their works. There is no formal procedure to apply, no age limit and no specific restrictions in genre, so if you are an artist looking for an atelier you can just drop them a line by email or show up during an event with your exceptional new project. But you’d better be really good at what you do, as it is very competitive. And if you are not, pay Recyclart a visit and you are sure to experience some exciting new minds and ideas which cannot be seen anywhere else.
Mixing culture and social economy is what Recyclart is all about, and this comes to life through the less known but most rewarding aspect of their work – the employment project. The center provides professional training for low-skilled job seekers. About 15 people are trained for up to two years through work experience in catering, metal and wood work (Fabrik), management and maintenance of infrastructure.
If this doesn’t make you love Recyclart or at least like them a bit more, I don’t know what will. Art is all about changing lives, isn’t it? Make sure you follow their website for what is on their agenda. Here is what is coming soon:
Intrastructures | Conference & Expo in architecture and urban design | 17/09 – 30/10 | Gare Bruxelles-Congrès Slice of Pie: Stig Of The Dump (UK), Joe Lucazz (FR), Hesytap Squad (BE), Nacho (BE), Marvy Da Pimp (FR/BE), Gros Thiago (FR/BE)| Concert | 18/09 | Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle Pecha Kucha #46 | Design September | 23/09 | Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle Tandaapushi | Concert | 24/09 | Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle Dans Dans & Polar Bear | Concert | 30/09 | Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle
Recylart Bar & Centre d’Arts, Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle, Rue des Ursulines 25, Brussels, Belgium
Recylart, Congres, Gare Bruxelles-Congrès, Blvd Pachéco 40, Brussels, Belgium