Mohamed Ridouani, Deputy Mayor Leuven
What used to be an abandoned, run-down part of Leuven, is now a hip area booming with creative and artistic activities. The neighbourhood around the Vaartkom is revealing itself as a vibrant area by the water. In order to strenghten these dynamics and turn this area into a creative hub with international appeal, the Vaartopia project was introduced. Vaartopia is Leuven MindGate's response to the need for a create hub with affordable space for the creative sector of the Leuven region.
Vaartopia aims to be the answer to the creative entrepreneur's call for more affordable space in Leuven by investing in meeting areas, art centers and coworking spaces. The Vaartkom has an enormous amount of potential to further strengthen the liveliness and momentum in and around Leuven, plus it is the ideal spot for creative individuals to co-create with KU Leuven's scientists or technical experts from imec or other spin-offs.
Together with partners such as Leuven's public services Economy and Culture, AGSL, OPEK, De Hoorn, Cas-co and of course Leuven MindGate, Vaartopia created a strong case which was granted a subsidy from Flanders funds for urban renewal.
Next to the refurbishment of the buildings, another essential part of Vaartopia is public space. The Vaartkom is seeing less traffic while the square in front of OPEK (picture below) has become a pleasant, contemporary magnet for meeting.