Masui has lately received lots of attention in the media and the associative world. It is being profiled as one of the last productive citadels in Brussels. But to which extent this is happening for real?
Last week, a couple of interns at Brussels Perspective (the Brussels' Regional Planning Agency) presented the conclusions of their study about productive activities at Masui. Likely, more than one had to frown.
First of all, very little of what was analyzed could actually be considered productive: wholesalers in food items and construction materials, garages, some retailers again in construction materials and food… last year, while we were working in the CRU3 (Urban Renewal Contract at West Station), we encountered quite some ironworkers and other metal processing activities, printing businesses, garment industries… Nobody talks though of West station as a worthwhile site for urban industry ;)
Second consideration: absolutely everybody is convinced about the need to keep these businesses in place. Who are we to chase them away anyhow? But is heavy concurrence, as a result of overpopulation of similar businesses, and low profit margins, growth-restrictive, next to a business model based on mere survival and incapable of generating jobs something to really keep? As a matter of fact, what is so sexy about this form of (pseudo) production?
New studies proliferate by the day, unraveling the difficulties of survival of some established urban industries but also pointing at the incredible opportunities that innovation and entrepreneurship offer to newly born businesses… even if we are against any form of selection to be made by the government to decide which industries should stay or should go in the city, because we seriously believe that if a company wishes to stay somewhere is only after careful economic consideration, we would lavishly support any form of planning that would inform companies on what they really do. Not that Grandes Marees or Van Wezel, both located at Masui, would need it. The smaller actors do need it, indeed!
More about the guided visit organized by BRAL: https://bral.brussels/en/artikel/explore-masuivergote-het-verslag (also available in French)
More about the presentation at Perspective – Bureau Bruxellois de la Planification: