An abandoned factory on the edge of Aalst has been turned into a creative hub for local entrepreneurs. The building known as Cimorné was formerly used to manufacture a cement decorated with broken glass known as ciment orné.
The striking 1920s industrial interior has been taken over by several small businesses including a bike store, hipster barber, a bakery and a plant shop with greenery hanging from an old canoe. You can drop in for lunch, a coffee or a chat.
The factory interior is lit by circular lamps made from suspended bicycle wheels. There is also an wooden indoor bike course. The bike theme even extends to the toilets where the walls are covered with nostalgic photographs of Belgian cycling heroes.
Sarah Bael and a friend opened her plant shop Drift here in 2017. Her ideas, expressed a few years ago in a letter to potential customers, seem almost utopian. ‘We love the sound of a twig snapping in the silence of a forest, the glow of gold and bronze, the fragility of moss and the roughness of stone.’
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.