Inspired by what some might consider the only redeemable aspect of the coronavirus lockdown measures – more peace and quiet in emptier public spaces – two women in Brussels are opening the city’s first “quiet room.”
“It’s an urban problem. During the lockdown, we noticed that the stagnation of daily life in Brussels has been a relief,” Anna Van Hoof, one of those women, told Bruzz. “It literally became quieter, and the realization grew that we need rest.”
Van Hoof, a writer, and Lilith Geeraerts, a journalist for Bruzz, are opening a Brussels quiet place at the beginning of May.
Geeraerts was partially inspired by a similar place in an old library in Ghent, where she used to spend time as a child.
“That was a place I really liked to go to, because it was just quiet there,” Geeraerts. “As a child I always loved going to libraries and that space in Ghent was a very nice and calm place. You could escape from the world there.”
That was missing in the bustle of Brussels, felt Geeraerts, and together with Van Hoof they decided to tackle the issue.
They’ll begin with a temporary location at Le Tri Postal, the former mail sorting centre at Brussels South, and eventually move closer to the center of Brussels where they perceive the need as being greater.
In order to avoid having the room become another space to gather and work, digital devices will be banned.
“We don’t want it to accidentally become a coworking space. Brussels already has enough of those,” explained Geeraerts.
Instead, visitors can snuggle into a cosy chair with a book, knit, draw, or just simply relax. They plan to hold workshops on meditation.
“The effect of too many stimuli and the situation of hyper-communication makes it increasingly difficult for people to be alone in a comfortable way,” Van Hood said. “It’s important to come to oneself, to not be overwhelmed every day by the rush of daily life.”
The pair have started a campaign on Growfunding for the venture, and have so far raised almost €5,000.
Growfunding is a Belgian platform for civic crowdfunding. In cooperation with the Flemish Community Commission, each contribution is matched by 33%.