R0 9-10, Brussels, Belgium (2014-2016)
Living in the northern municipalities of Brussels between 2013 and 2015, the Laarbeek wood (Laarbeekbos in Dutch, Bois du Laerbeek in French) was first and foremost a recreational place where I would go for a run after a long day of business. I enjoyed the open horizon and vegetation
No one could ignore the dense infrastructure surrounding the wood: a railroad, the ring road R0, the take-off/landing trajectories for international flights, the fields, and a farm.
There was also something about the Laarbeek's western edge and windbelt. I later found out the frontier between Brussels and Flanders lies there in a ditch. I also found out the wood was a Natura 2000 site, a European program aiming to protect wildlife's natural habitat. Both gave the wood strong boundaries, I thought.
However there was the dreaded extension of the ring road on the Flemish side, north of the wood. A project which would, if laid out as planned, absorb 5 hectares of the Laarbeek wood (ie. almost 20 percent of its current area) and therefore impair the wood's integrity. Ultimately, I viewed the wood as a small natural enclave.
Of course, there's nothing natural about a such fenced site with access rules neighboring the dense infrastructure I previously described. Clearly, particulate matters or exhaust gases filter in the well-meaning boundaries and attempts to keep the visitors away of its core where a special kind of garlic sprouts early spring.
The wood then became a place where I could exercise approaching limits and bringing them into the frame, prior to playing the big field, for instance in Iceland.
The project's name derive from the exits number 9 and 10 on the ring road (R0) where the Laarbeek is located.