On Friday, 28 October, the afternoon will mostly unfold off campus in the shape of eight different thematic excursions exploring particular aspects of the urban ecology of Brussels.  These field trips will combine walking and public transport.

Not only are urban spaces essential to a rethinking of “Wildness without Wilderness,” but very often they are also sites of unsuspected forms of poiesis, energy, and instability.  It therefore seemed important to include in the conference debates urban spaces in general and the local ones of Brussels in particular (all the more so as the Belgian capital has one of the highest number of protected green spaces in Europe, whilst it also epitomizes many of the environmental challenges facing other cities worldwide).

Besides wanting our thematic excursions to privilege the complex nature/culture interaction within the urban environment in which our conference will be “embedded” for four days, we also wished to create a synergy with some other components of the EASLCE 2016 programme. 

On the one hand, these local field trips will extend certain aspects touched upon in Frans VERA’s keynote earlier on Friday, 28 October.  On the other hand, they also present a marked contrast with certain forms of the “wild” that will be explored later on the same day in the documentary about and talk with American writer John Nichols.  Last but not least, complementing the Dutch documentary that will close the conference, our city walks will also present another facet of the “Big Nature in a Small Country” paradox, one which in fact pervades the different countries and spaces forming the Benelux.

There will thus be a choice between the following:

3 visits of urban nature reserves organized by the Belgian Circle of Naturalists (NATAGORA):

a) “Réserve du Rouge Cloître”: one of the most interesting semi-natural zones of Brussels, which combines a string of ponds and meadows, unique fauna and flora, and the remnants of monastic architecture.


b) “Réserve des Enfants Noyés”: a unique mosaic of ponds, rivers, and forest, home to much rare fauna and flora, and forming part of the “Natura 2000” European ecological network for the protection of biodiversity.


c) “La Vallée de la Woluve”: the Woluwe, one of several small rivers coursing through Brussels, runs through protected land that combines semi-natural sites rich in biodiversity with some of the finest examples of parks and gardens landscaped in the English style.  The Woluwe Valley also forms part of the “Natura 2000” European ecological network for the protection of biodiversity.


3 visits organized by L’Atelier de Recherche et d’Actions Urbaines (ARAU):

d) Brussels as a cradle and hub of Art Nouveau, an arts and crafts movement deeply inspired by the forms and vitalism of nature, as shown by the many fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture still gracing several parts of the capital.

e) The consequences of the 1958 World Fair on the urban landscape and urban planning of Brussels.

f) Brussels and its model garden cities: an exploration of the city’s green suburbs and socially utopian past.

A visit to the underground world of Brussels and its network of sewers, organized by the Sewers Museum and combined with a “Brussels by Water” boat trip.

A visit to the “Jardin Massart,” ULB’s experimental botanical gardens, home to approximately 2000 species.

Each visit will be led by a professional tour guide.  The visits are in French with consecutive English translation provided by our MA students or Permanent Education students.

COSTS VARY FROM 3 EUROS TO 10 EUROS PER PERSON (so the excursions are modestly priced and ULB will take care of the public transport costs for each participant).  The costs go towards the remuneration of tour guides and should please be paid in cash on the day to the student helper accompanying the group.

FOR EACH OF THE TRIPS, THERE IS NO MINIMUM SET FOR THE NUMBER OF VISITORS, BUT THERE IS A MAXIMUM ONE OF 15-20 PARTICIPANTS, DEPENDING ON THE EXCURSION.  So even if only a few of you choose one particular visit, it will automatically go ahead.  However, we are also trying to avoid too big a group for any destination, which is why we kindly ask us to fill out the form on the next page, indicating the 2 trips which have your preference.

To be returned please by 16 October 2016 to Sandy at Sandy.Ciroux@ulb.ac.be

A renvoyer à Sandy, SVP, pour le 16 octobre 2016 à Sandy.Ciroux@ulb.ac.be