• Youtopia / Utopia


    Concept design - Strategy - Communication


    Art production - Event production - Event scenography


    People's Architecture

    In 2016 it was exactly 500 years ago when Utopia, the famous book by Thomas More, was printed in Leuven. Utopia put Leuven firmly on the world map. The university and city celebrated this anniversary with a high-profile exhibition in the M Museum, a vibrant city festival and the social project YOUtopia. Together with Onkruid the client thought about a broad, accessible, inspiring and artistic opening momentum connecting the city and its people. The project had to be an invitation to citizens from all backgrounds, cultural organizations, artists and others to talk and think about an ideal world, an ideal society, an ideal city - Utopia.

    In a society often focused on the individual Onkruid wanted to connect citizens again. Therefore Onkruid collaborated with People’s Architecture Office for there award-winning People’s Canopy. The People's Canopy is architecture for events and architecture as event. They are retractable canopies that can cycled by citizens, paraded through the city and expanded over the length of entire streets, linking disconnected public space and connecting citizens.

    The People's Canopy is a two-story high expandable roof structure on bicycle wheels that can seat up to 10 cyclists. It is designed to collapse to the size of a double-decker bus so that it can be pedaled from one location to another. When parked, a canopy can open like an accordion to 12 meters in length at a span of 10 meters to cover entire streets. Spaces for automobiles are turned into spaces for pedestrians and events.

    The design references expandable canopies popular in Southern China. These are typically used by small businesses such as restaurants and bars to temporarily expand their spaces into parking lots and public sidewalks in an informal way.

    Seven canopies were designed and fabricated in Beijing and assembled in Leuven. The opening event of the project was organized around and under a configuration of the 7 canopies on the Ladeuzeplein in Leuven. The canopies were paraded through they city and cycled by citizens of Leuven. After the event the canopies were installed in various locations around the city, linking public squares and markets. They housed a myriad of cultural events and become a recognisable fixture of the city offering identity to its neighbourhoods.

    The opening event on the Ladeuzeplein was the festive launch of the project and the heart of the festivities. Citizens were able to enjoy a unique food market, live music and could participate in one of many workshops. The event brought together citizens from all backgrounds and offered a broad momentum to celebrate 500 years of Utopia.