Something was different in Brussels on the morning of 18th September. Instead of waking up to the relentless thrum of traffic, Brussels woke up instead to the tinkle of bicycle bells. Car free Sunday had arrived – and it wasn’t long before thousands of cyclists on bikes of all shapes and sizes joined the throngs of pedestrians in the hip-hop and definitely happening carnival atmosphere of Brussels city centre. Extreme sports enthusiasts got an early fix with high wire walkers dissecting the skies between buildings, BMX stunt bikers thrilled the crowds and outdoor concerts revved up the volume and whipped up the crowds. In the midst of all this frenetic energy, one small oasis of calm stood out: – the TURAS Mobile Green Living Room. Planted right in the middle of everything in Place de la Bourse, the green living room provided a shady refuge for all generations to sit down and take some time out from the joyful chaos unfolding all around.
Mad scientists entertaining children. Image Siobhan McQuaid
During the afternoon, the Green Living Room came to life as a platform for street theatre performers. Armed with watering cans and overgrown vegetables, mad scientists entertained children under the watchful eyes of their parents and grandparents. Shouts of discovery were heard as children made the living room their own – unearthing hidden strawberries down low and up high and inventing new games of hide and seek among the leaves and flowers on both sides of this green space.
As the afternoon dwindled on, families gradually retired home and the green living room welcomed the first of the evening visitors – groups of teenagers hanging out in admiration of each other while later on courting couples took advantage of a quiet moment to steal a kiss under the planted ceiling. From first light to late at night, thousands of visitors of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds came to enjoy the atmosphere of car-free Sunday in Brussels. The TURAS Green Living Room blended seamlessly into the background – almost like it was always there on the corner of rue Paul Devaux – a source of shade and solace, calm and quiet, nature at its best in the city centre.
Green Living Room at night. Image Siobhan McQuaid.