For a small price, residents of Schaerbeek in Brussels can can choose to decorate the pavement outside their houses with a mosaic paving stone.
It all started about 15 years ago when Brussels artist Ingrid Schreyers decided to decorate the pavement outside her home in the municipality of Schaerbeek.
Impressed by the creativity and how the mosaics on the paving stones brightened up the street, her neighbours — and many more residents of the commune over time — took inspiration and designed their own.
These efforts can be seen all over the neighbourhoods of Schaerbeek while walking its streets. The commune is now famous for this trend and its authorities are fully on board, offering interested residents the opportunity to make more colourful additions.
Free placement and free creative rein
For a fee of between €30 and €70, people can choose between paving stones via the commune’s website. They come in three sizes — 14x14cm, 15x15cm and 20x20cm — one for all types of pavements in the commune.
"Each inhabitant can choose from one to three cobblestones, depending on demand and availability," explains the road and works service of the municipality. "The placement of your mosaic on your pavement is taken care of by the commune free of charge."
For the design itself, residents are given free rein, or at least to a certain extent. "Obviously, your pavement can not convey hateful messages, such as racist statements, etc," stated the municipal administration.
"The municipality reserves the right to refuse the placement of a mosaic if it is contrary to the conditions of the regulation."
As well as brightening up the urban environment, they are also a source of social interaction. "They encourage people to stop, to observe,” said one resident of the commune. "They promote discussions between neighbours and offer Schaerbeek residents the opportunity to share a little of their personality."