Transgression/Transition: an exploration of the Senne and its surroundings


presentation_ERforS2_web-Presentation at Enough Room for Space, Drogenbos (Belgium)-

Transgression/Transition, an exploration of the Senne and its surroundings is an ongoing research project on the Belgian Senne river. The project started in April 2015 and has known several moments of exploration and presentation since. In August 2015 Transgression/Transition initiated a field research along the Senne by walking the 103 km course of the river. These pictures are both the result and an object for further investigation.

On display at Enough Room for Space from 17 October 2015 till 13 March 2016.


The source of the Senne is in Soignies (Wallonia) and flows into the river of the Dijle at Heffen (Flanders) from where it finally reaches the Schelde and the North Sea. The Senne flows through the three Belgian regions -Wallonia, Brussels Capital Region and Flanders- and passes the city of Brussels and some thirty villages. The river has no existing trail that follows its course. At certain points it flows underground or along private property.

Even though the Senne is a small and unnavigable river, it has had a very eventful history. It is an undervalued river, much maligned and rather tucked away than seen. For centuries, the Senne has been used as an open sewer where not only the excrements and waste water of thousands of families flowed away, but also heavy chemicals from adjacent factories.

Because the river has been diverted, polluted and forgotten, its surroundings became a site for all kinds of informal use. The decades-long absence of a comprehensive and inter-regional planning policy, fueled by the ostrich politics of the three Belgian regions, has made the river into a ‘non-place’ or ‘fringe’. The Senne manifests itself as an area of transgression, meandering through city and countryside. Transgression / Transition will explore the river with these considerations in mind and see how its surroundings today offer room for that what falls outside the norm.

However, there appears to be a growing consciousness among planners and politicians for the revaluation of the Senne valley. Today the transgressive space of the Senne is in transition: in view of the potential economic and commercial interests parts of the river and its surroundings are being (re)developed. In such a situation of valorization all the facets of the space come to the fore: the use and its users, the stakes and those who hold it.

By taking the river as its directory Transgression/Transition wants to explore the surroundings along the Senne in order to visualize and outline the traces of both formal and informal spatial use.


Supported by: Enough Room for Space