Synapse - The Space Between


This initiative is closed. It was realized by Howest before the Howest Foundation was set up. We show this project on this website as one of many examples of the corporate social responsability initiatives Howest University of Applied Sciences already supported in recent years.

Near to the Vlaamse Poort, where the Dansaertstraat meets the banks of the canal, there on the other side, is Oud Molenbeek. The old forgotten river meandered along the little houses and many studios of the district.

The Riverbank habitant

This is where we live, a mainly Moroccan population, a remarkable number of Pakistani families, Spanisch and Italian families, Africans, numerous authentic Bruxellois, an increasing number of  young Flemish families, new East European immigrants and especcially many children! 

Population density and unemployment are among the largest in Europe. Due to the size of families and the often too small housing, people like to dwell on the streets, on playgrounds or in parks,  which results in a very close community where everyone seems to know everyone. Almost nowhere in Brussels is the bond between the residents of a neighborhood as tight as in Old Molenbeek.

Despite poverty, the bad state of many houses, illegal dumping and the lack of greenery; the human bond makes it pleasant living in this neighborhood. The city is doing the best it can - with the limited resources available - to meet the needs as much as possible. Thanks to the district contracts, most streets are rebuilt and many houses are being renovated.

According to the principles of Mass Moving, Synapse brings art to the streets. The neighborhoods surrounding the canal are given a playful touch through flying fish and other imaginary sea creatures, which appear every 50 meters on balconies, attached to lampposts, on roofs and behind shop windows. The fish meander through the streets like a chain, from the playgrounds to the city hall. If these fish could swim hard enough, they might get across the canal, to Brussels, maybe even to Europe, bridging the space between different worlds.

Through wind and installations and with the interaction of the neighborhood, the fish are brought to life. Using iron wires, which serve as antennas, and some simple pieces of electronics, the fish seem to talk to each other, as a metaphor for the close human relationship that is so unique in that neighborhood. Now the holes in the street have dissappeared via the neighborhood contracts, my kids for instance will no longer call my street the 'holes and gaps street', but they might call it the Street of the Green Moonfish or the Snappy Shelves Street.

Students design 

Howest students of the Bachelor Industrial Product Design design these imaginary creatures. The designs make it possible for the children of Brussels, to make them themselves; with simple materials and well-thought out designs. 

Eventually, these imaginary sea creatures are hung up in the streets in a moving network.

Synapse is an initiative by CanaleTTo, in association with Howest University College and L'institut des arts et métiers.