Archipel is a unique collective workspace where artists, theatre makers and craft workers produce and experiment. Since 2018 they have been housed in the stunning, raw former cattle halls on the Slachthuissite, located in the ‘Den Dam’ neighbourhood in Antwerp North. In addition to the permanent team of ‘Archipellers', each with their own practice, Archipel also welcomes guests. These individuals or organisations are given the space to work in complete focus on new creations. Archipel initiates social and artistic interventions through exhibitions, performances and debates, but also through the organisation of workshops and festivals. Archipel is not only a studio, but also a learning space that builds bridges with the neighbourhood and the city through participatory projects and that experiments with inclusive models of collaboration.
In the middle of the former cattle halls, there is a 1500 square metre shed that was transformed by the Archipellers into an atelier with furnished storage. The basis of the Atelier is a large open space that allows the Archipellers to work on large installations, works of art and decors.
Besides the regular team of Archipellers, Archipel also invites guests. These individuals or organisations are given the opportunity to work on their creations in a shed of 700 square metres that serves as a temporary, multifunctional creation space. Both Archipellers and guests will have the chance to use De Grootte for a maximum period of 3 months.
This raw vacant terrain in front of the halls serves on the one hand as a parking lot for visitors of the Antwerps Sportpaleis and, on the other hand, provides a free space for local residents. It unfolds itself as the playground for projects that connect locals and artists. The permaculture experiment De Moestijn and Koer Tisane, among others, germinate here.
TOREN VAN BABEL
In the summer of 2019, a large tower was built in the city that formed an impressive polyphony of many languages and cultures. The Tower of Babel was a collaborative project, and simultaneously a platform for sharing multilingual poetry, a laboratory for superdiversity and an ode to the city's multilingualism. The Tower of Babel was the basis for a city poem by former city poet Maud Vanhauwaert.
On the night of 9 to 10 April 2020, this remarkable tower collapsed into ashes. It was however precisely this loss that made clear how the Tower of Babel had grown into a powerful symbol for the neighbourhood and, by extension, the entire city. A follow-up story on the site is currently being worked on with various partners.
BabelBühne is a sustainable and usable sculpture made up of terraces and water features, inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon. It is a meeting place for all kinds of languages and a melting pot of different arts, sounds and tastes. BabelBühne is the follow-up story to the collaborative project Tower of Babel, which in the summer of 2019 was an impressive ode to multilingualism and confusion of tongues.
The design of the Buurtsculptuur stemmed from the many dreams of the people living in ‘den Dam’ neighbourhood. In this way, the Archipellers developed a modular user sculpture, which can be transformed into various types of playground equipment and a market stall, or can serve as a stage element and can be defragmented into several multicoloured picnic tables. After three years of travelling through the Damwijk area in all kinds of shapes, it returned to the site and now serves as an occasional outdoor bar.