Soil depths

Both urbanism and architecture usually present the ground as an inert and technical surface, defined by the zenith point of view. While the soil is thick, grained, kept alive thanks to the activity of the many living beings that literally pass through it. Soil is more than the material with which our cities are built, or on which they are built. Soil is a critical dimension of the social production of space, inscribed in the history of places, and embodying a series of close links between social and biophysical systems through the food we eat, the water we drink, or the various substances it must absorb (from nutrients to gases whose abusive presence deregulates the environment).

The desire to organize this international encounter is based on recent ideas from ecofeminism and writings on urban metabolism. It wishes to unveil new possibilities to update our relationship to (non)living matter in and around us, so that we can go beyond the city-nature opposition and begin to inhabit a regime where we could be “many”, a collective of associations internalizing the environment. The encounter dwells on a selection of authors who try to think the ontologies and epistemology of a world more than human from the ground, feminists associated with the new materialism who consider the soil as the humus-world at the root of all means of subsistence (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017; Cahn et al., 2018; Tsing, 2011), cartographers experimenting with potential soil maps (Ait-Touati et al., 2019), as well as researchers focusing on the soil composition of cities and the symptoms of an “accelerated metabolism” that needs to be revised (Barles et al., 1999; Misrach and Orff 2014). The symposium seeks to oppose them in order to understand what the consequences for our cities could be if we were ready to engage with the soil as a living matter, to avoid trivializing our relationship with the ground that would become the regurgitating foundation of the places we inhabit.


21/09/2021 - 12h00-14h00

Speakers : Germain Meulemans & Lola Richelle

Mediator : Serge Kempeneers



22/09/2021 - 12h00-14h00

Speakers : Frédérique Aït-Touati & Koen Roygens

Mediator : Francisco Davila



23/09/2021 - 12h00-14h00

Speakers : Claire Pentecost & Seth Denizen

Mediator : Bruno Notteboom



24/09/2021 - 12h00-14h00

Speakers : Ken de Cooman & Yannick Devos

Mediator: Giulia Verga



24/09/2021 - 17h00-19h00

Closing debate with : Thomas Vilquin, Pauline Lefebvre, Marie Coûteaux (BRAL), Sotiria Kornaropoulou, Benoît Burquel, Alice Paris, (tbc. Serge Kempeneers)

Mediator : Nadia Casabella


Organised by: Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre Horta, Laboratory Urbanism Infrastructure Ecology, ULB, BRAL

Mardi, 21 septembre, 2021 - 12:00 - Vendredi, 24 septembre, 2021 - 19:00