Belgian architects Eva De Fré and Dieter Leyssen engage in a dialogue with New York based architectural critic, curator, and educator Nina Rappaport on the relation of spaces of production in cities and the process of gentrification. In the light of the ongoing transformation of the Brussels canal area, theywill discuss new possible paradigms for sustainable, hybrid, and transparent urban industries that also take into account the worker in the city and the new economy.
Nina Rappaport is curator of Vertical Urban Factory, an extensive traveling exhibitionand book of the same name with Actar publishers. The project focuses on the spaces of production in cities—both Modernistand contemporary—and incorporates the architectural, technological, and economic factors that shape their design, function, and social impact. In the project, Nina addresses the history of the urban factory in its vertical typology while looking forward, provoking new concepts for the future of urban manufacturing. In 2013, she supervised the graduationproject of De Fré & Leyssen, ‘Keeping the Fence, the advent of Gentrification’. In this continuing research, De Fré and Leyssenquestion the prevailing paradigm of ‘tabula rasa’ urbanism on the Brooklyn’s formerly industrial waterfront. Driven by short-term economical tendencies and speculations on the stock market, New York City’s coast lines have been subjected to several transformations; from the addition of piers, docks and wharfs that can compete in the global industrial economy, to the construction of highways postwar to supportthe booming car industry, to the realization of green parks, landscapes of resilience, and high-end residences today. De Fré and Leyssen advocate a more sustainable planning strategy by re-interpreting the process of gentrificationas a mechanism to enforce existing social and economical realities in this changing urban area.
Nina Rappaport is an architectural critic, curator, and educator. She is Publications Directorat Yale School of Architecture, for which she edits the bi-annual magazine Constructs and the school’s book series. She has also curated exhibitions on Ezra Stoller, The Swiss Section at the Van Alen Institute, and Saving Corporate Modernism, at Yale. She authored the book Support and Resist: Structural Engineers and Design Innovation (Monacelli Press, 2007) and co-edited the books Ezra Stoller: Photographer (Yale Unversity Press, 2012) and Long Island City: Connecting the Arts (Design Trust for Public Space and Episode Books, 2008). She has taught at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse School of Architecture in New York, and Barnard/Columbia College, among others. She has written numerous essays on structural design, architecture, and global industrial landscapes. She is a founding board member of Docomomo US and NY/Tri-State. For more information about her, please visit
Eva De Fré and Dieter Leyssen graduated in 2013 at the University of Leuven, Belgium with the project ‘Keeping the fence. The Advent of Gentrification’, part of the Studio Brooklyn graduation studio by Ward Verbakel and Tom Thys. As freelance researches they continued this project, presenting it at the AAG Tampa (spring 2014) and Ugent (Autumn 2014). The project was selected Runner Up at the Architectural Review Graduate Award and part of the exhibition ‘Breuckland’ in DeSingel international Arts Campus. Since 2013, Eva De Fré and Dieter Leyssen are collaborators at respectively Trans Architecture Urbanism and 51N4E.