Metrolab Brussels' scientific program is structured by three main axes of research - urban inclusion, urban ecology, urban production - which correspond roughly to the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable urban development. The first topic tackled by researchers has therefore been urban inclusion in 2016-17.
Urban inclusion can be adressed from various perspectives : social, spatial, economic, cultural, educational, political, etc.
Inclusion, as one of the general objectives for urban policies backed by European funds, is defined in reference to its opposite, exclusion, and other related terms such as segregation, marginalization, stigmatization, discrimination. Can we really address issues of urban poverty and social injustice from this dualistic approach? In a city like Brussels, what can be the possible impact of the socio-spatial interventions planned in the ERDF program on the condition of poor individuals and households ?
The stakes for those in Metrolab working on this line of research is to develop a reflexive, realistic and processual conception of the inclusive achievements of a specific project, or the ERDF program as a whole. Rather than to accept a priori the dualistic opposition between "the included" and "the excluded", we look closely at the urban situations addressed by the projects, to clarify the kind of problems they raise and to scrutinize the publics which are directly/indirectly related to these problems and their consequences.
Because these publics are themselves reflexive and expressive on their situation/problems, we will also have to consider their own conception of what inclusion is or ought to be.
In addition to the individual and collective researches of this topic, Metrolab researchers organised numerous seminars and a international conference.
One of the main outcome of this urban inclusion cycle is the "Designing urban inclusion" publication which gathers the results of the 2017 MasterClass and critical insights from guest contributors and Metrolab. Benoit Moritz, Louise Carlier and Marco Ranzato are part of the editors. In this publication, you can also find the article "Inclusive urbanism as gatekeeping" written by Benoit Moritz and Mathieu Berger (sociologist, Metrolab-UCLouvain).
This article can be read here in French, and here in English.