Image of the Romanian house of our colleague’s aunt, as send by Facebook messenger.

Images of the model in Z33, and the discussions around it.

Houses for a Seasonal Neighbourhood

Contributors: Maximiliaan Royakkers & Ciel Grommen

How to transform a Flemish suburban house into a residency for seasonal migrants?

How are/can rural conditions in western and eastern Europe (be) linked?

After picking strawberries in a greenhouse in Hoogstraten (BE) for two weeks, we decided to visit our former colleagues in their hometown Maneuti. The Romanian families proudly showed us their brand new houses that were built thanks to the money of their foreign labour. The houses, sampling bits and pieces of western suburban typologies in shape and lay-out, are inhabited in a peculiar way to us, out of tune with the lifestyle we would normally expect in such a lay-out.

To understand this contrast between the production of space and form, and the way of living, it helped us to look at the traditional houses in the Romanian countryside. There we learned that the house and the space around it unfold into overlapping places between public and private, inside and outside, allowing for a convivial coexistence with neighbours and livestock.

These observations lead us to question the built environment of the Flemish countryside and its typical housing typology, the fermette. By applying a logic of appropriation of form and space we will imagine a residence for migrant workers, inspired by our observations in Romania’s countryside and fed through conversations about the built environment and daily life in different Eastern European countries.

Exposition: Z33 (Hasselt, BE) - 30 January 2022 > 17 April 2022

For the Seasonal Neighbours group exhibition in Z33 our imaginations unravelled in a model of a prototypical street of the Flemish countryside. Over the course of the exhibition, conversations with different stakeholders (farmers, policy makers, seasonal labourers etc.) were condensed into a series of models; transforming, cutting and editing fermettes.

Many thanks to Steve and Leen from Hoezaerenbosh in Hoogstraten to give us a seasonal job and becoming our friends, to our colleagues Elena, Adrian, Cornel, Vasilis, Patrick, Marek, David, Ornella, ... to share so many stories and collegial moments and to host us in Romania, to Stebo and Samenlevingsopbouw to exchange their insights, and many more.

Website updated in May 2024