In 2014, the Smart cooperative signed a 27-year lease for the occupation of a 6000m² former industrial laundry in Molenbeek.
The goal is to install within the building a community of artists and creative entrepreneurs and to offer a varied cultural program as well as spaces for rent.
The ambitious project takes the name of LaVallée, from the name of the street in which the project is located, and develops rapidly inspired by the dynamics of the Third Places.
The project is organized around three main activities
The provision of work spaces, the rental of event spaces and the production of events.
The site now houses the professional activities of about 180 creative entrepreneurs, including graphic designers, visual artists, stylists, journalists, architects, craftsmen, etc.
This cohabitation encourages synergy between residents and promotes exchanges in terms of skills, network, material and knowledge.
Whether on its own initiative or in coproduction,
LaVallée organizes a multitude of events.
Among them are the Apéros LaVallée that take places on Fridays during the summer, the local market, the open-air cinema, calls for projects for residency programs, collaborations with partners such as the Goethe Institute, the Open Earth Foundation, etc
Appeared in the nineties, the term “third place” refers to different spaces (coworking, fablab, hackerspace …) complementary to those found at home and at work. It offers the comfort and conviviality of home in an environment adapted to work.
These generally open spaces encourage meetings and exchanges between the people who frequent them and offer an alternative solution to the traditional entrepreneurial operation. Thus, they rely on the dynamics of sharing, the proximity of the occupants and the synergy between disciplines.
LaVallée is located in a former industrial site that was built at the end of the 19th century. It is emblematic of the history of Molenbeek since it developed at a time when industrialization was profoundly changing the face of East Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.
The site consists of seven parcels that were previously dedicated to activities as different as hide working, furniture manufacturing and trucking.
his diversity reinforces the historical richness of the site and is symbolic of the current development of LaVallée: studios hosting a variety of artistic activities and offices have replaced the tanneries, refineries and laundries of the past.
Each building had its own history before Euroblanc “the Penguin” intervened in the 1970s to bring them together in a single site. The machines have now almost all disappeared, except for a tanker and an elevator that were used by the laundry. But the memory of LaVallée’s past does not fade away.
The large halls, the sheds and skylights typical of industrial architecture; the recurrence of characteristic materials such as brick, metal, mechanical tile and sheet metal; the huge chimney, the most visible emblem of LaVallée : all of which bear witness to the industrial and artisanal activities of the past. They tell the story of a city, a neighborhood, the people who lived there and the jobs that made them live.