Art embraces Nature

Two new discovery tours on the VUB campus: Humanistic Sculpture Park & Living Campus Walk

This summer, the main campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel boasts two more trails. Inaugurated today, the Humanist Sculpture Park and the Living Campus Walk are two discovery tours based on art and nature, that can be explored on campus and virtually. VUB students played a prominent role in the development of the trails, making the campus not only an oasis of peace in the city, but also a real living lab for our students.

The inauguration took place during an open-air event organised by VUB in honour of its staff, celebrating all its employees who have been in service for 20, 30 or 40 years or who retired or became emeritus in 2020. This tribute normally takes place during the New Year's session in January, which was cancelled this year due to the corona crisis. Though the measures have since been relaxed, the traditional giant VUB staff BBQ was not to be. So VUB decided to honour its employees with this event and start the coming summer holidays on a positive note.

The Humanist Sculpture Park

The Humanistic Sculpture Park is a unique open-air museum with a permanent and temporary art collection. The works of art symbolise or question the values and philosophy of VUB, expressing the principle of free research and a liberal attitude to life. You can find out more about the works of art via a QR code.

The collection of the Humanistic Sculpture Park originated in 1980, with the first sculpture donated by the Former Students’ Union. The aim was to improve the aesthetic appearance of the university grounds, to which little attention had been paid until then. Since then, the open-air collection of sculptures has expanded and, over the years, developed into a collection with a humanist slant.-The humanist message is an explicit reason for acquiring and placing the works on the campus, to serve as a visual reminder of VUB’s values and philosophy. The participating artists are not only well-known names in Belgian art, they are also free thinkers par excellence: Georges Dobbels, Paul Van Gysegem, Lin Yang-Cai, Jos Delbroek, Camiel Van Breedam, Bart Soubry, Willy Vandendorpe, Colin Waeghe, Mark Cloet, Johan Tahon, Nick Ervinck, Jean Bilquin, Philip Aguirre y Otegui and Etienne Desmet.

The permanent collection is now complemented by 10 temporary outdoor sculptures by a new generation of artists. They are exhibited in four clusters of two to three sculptures each, which are positioned close to one another. After two years, they will make way for a new generation. The project is an initiative of Pilar, the cultural centre on the campus, and the first cluster of temporary sculptures was completed by the residents of Barak Lili M, Pilar’s artist studio on the See U site. Several works are linked to VUB’s The World Needs You campaign, while others are a visual response to the social and architectural context of the campus. Pilar also worked with art students to create an educational framework. Within Professor Dr Karin Nys’ course on museum didactics, they developed art routes for various groups, and one student, Bjorne Baeten, wrote her master’s thesis on the sculpture park.

The new scultptures are by artists Bart Lescrève, Nina Van Denbempt, Juan Pablo Plazas, Leyla Aydoslu, Klaas Vanhee, Jóhanna Kristbjörg Sigurðardóttir, Pieter De Clercq, Leendert Van Accoleyen, Elise Eeraerts and Dan Stockholm. The Living Campus Walk is a voyage of discovery through the flora and fauna that grow on our campus. Living stands for keeping our city and planet liveable. How do we limit climate change? How do we prepare for a future in a more extreme climate, with heat, drought or extreme precipitation? Via the QR code on the signs you can discover what VUB is doing to reduce its climate impact.

On the walking route, which was co-created by the students of the GreenTeamVUB, you will find rare orchids, sun turtles, gullies and green roofs, you will experience how the VUB swimming pool operates sustainably and how the campus is an answer to heat islands in the city. The GreenTeamVUB put together the Living Campus Walk based on interviews and archive material and worked closely with VUB researchers.



"In our GreenTeam work, we were impressed by what is going on at VUB and looked for a way to make this knowledge accessible to everyone, very spontaneously and informally. The Living Campus discovery tour is the result," says Milan Calloens, a student on the VUB GreenTeam.



"The Living Campus Walk is a small part of VUB’s blue-green strategy. In this living lab, the engineers of the Hydrology department and the scientists of the Biology department, with the Directorate of Infrastructure, investigate how to shape the campus environment of the future. Climate change brings extreme weather conditions with heatwaves, drought and extreme precipitation. How do we adapt the buildings and the environment so that as much rainwater as possible can seep into the ground and thus combat drought, how do we avoid flooding and how do we keep the city cool: by investing in water softening and greenery", says Dimitri Crespin, researcher in Hydrology.



"The biologists in the blue-green team reconcile these technical solutions with ecological added value: how do we direct infiltration or buffer zones in such a way that they are also interesting for plants and animals? The first examples are already visible on the campus, says Prof. Bram Vanschoenwinkel, Biologist.

Practical

Both walks are open 24/7 and are wheelchair accessible. The walks feature signs with QR codes giving access to reading and listening fragments.

Lies Feron Persrelaties Vrije Universiteit Brussel Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it-s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an -urban engaged university-, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.

www.vub.be/dewereldheeftjenodig

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