Introduction to Cureghem and Abattoir, Brussels 

Jan 20, 2023 | Brussels (Cureghem)

Cureghem, an integral part of Brussels, embraces the spirit of diversity and resilience. Abattoir, a former slaughterhouse turned into a living lab of sustainability and a place where business, living, leisure and education meet, is the heart of this vibrant district. Covering 10.5 hectares, Abattoir is fueled by renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, and a commitment to human connections. 

Cureghem: A Patchwork of Diversity  

Cureghem, recognized as “an unimaginable patchwork of diverse groups”, traces decades of disinvestment and political neglect. Cureghem, the most populated district of Anderlecht in Brussels, is characterized by a rich interplay of cultures, different lifestyles, marked by the continuous influx of new residents and constant movement. Cureghem’s narrative is one of resilience, where communities coexist amidst challenges.  

Shaped by its industrial past, today Cureghem hosts ultra-globalized economic activities (such as second-hand car trade of Lebanese and African car dealers), and a high concentration of various productive sectors (meat, food, energy, etc.). The market for second-hand vehicles is fading and will eventually leave Cureghem. These changes suggest the prospect of gentrification as inhabitants consider converting industrial spaces into middle-class homes. 

Abattoir: A Living Lab of Sustainability 

Formerly known as “The belly of Brussels” (a former slaughterhouse), Abattoir has evolved into a thriving space, hosting food industry start-ups to meet the urban demand for fresh and safe food. The vision for Abattoir extends beyond traditional farming, aiming to integrate food and energy production while embracing digitalization and insights into energy streams. The Abattoir project, initiated in 2007, has some parts already implemented and operational. Others, like the redevelopment of the slaughterhouse as “Manufakture” and the construction of residential spaces and offices for the “Kotmet” student housing project, are still in the planning or development phase. 

Abattoir is run by Abattoir s.a., a service company that includes activities such as construction, the production and distribution of energy, urban and environmental management of the site, market organization, and sociocultural events. Supported by DUSS-Explorers for its sustainability programme, it collaborates with partners like Urban Harvest, Eclo, and BIGH for urban agriculture, and with entities such as Clean-Invest, Foodmet, and Cultureghem for various sustainability initiatives.Top of Form 

Challenges and Opportunities  

While facing challenges, Cureghem remains an arrival district, offering support through informal structures and networks. Affordable housing, administrative intricacies, and balancing established and newcomer communities enrich Cureghem’s narrative. Cureghem isn’t merely a physical space but an experiential journey. Despite differences, residents find common ground in shared aspirations for education, safety, and mutual respect.

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