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Over Toestand International

Het eerste internationaal project vond plaats in Kremenchuk (Ukraine), waar een verlaten cinema werd omgebouwd tot een centrum voor jongeren. In de daaropvolgende jaren werd er een betonnen structuur verbouwd tot een alternatief sociocultureel centrum in Prishtina (Kosovo), een plein nieuw leven in te blazen in Granada (Spanje), en kreeg Tetova (Macedonië) er een nieuw skatepark en sociocultureel centrum bij.

Toestand plant slechts zaadjes. Aan het einde van elke intensieve bouwperiode worden de plekken dan ook volledig overgelaten aan de lokale bevolking en in het bijzonder aan de reeds betrokken jongeren. Deze werkwijze werpt zijn vruchten af. Het alternatieve socioculturele centrum in Prishtina genaamd Termokiss, draait vandaag meer dan ooit op volle toeren. Ook in ‘Social Cultural Space Tetova’ volgt de ene activiteit de andere op.


The Project

Having a space where you can be yourself is really important in the development of youngsters. Often they don’t have the money or funding to rent or gain access to a space. That’s why we focus on vacant buildings: Abandoned or unused spaces that youngsters can use so they can have a safe haven for developing themselves and their activities. This project aims to reinforce existing local initiatives of young people, and to guide that sense of initiative into specific  results. In doing so, we transform a potential threat for a neighborhood and a city at large into an opportunity for personal and community development. The space will be tailored by (marginalised ethnic groups of) young people for inclusive and diverse activities.

To develop a functioning cultural centre, the input of the locals is essential. This local network plays a central role in gathering both the necessary people and ideas that are needed to build a centre that meets the needs of the local community. We want to offer a place where youngsters can bring together people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, thereby breaking down the barriers that have been affecting the population for such a long time. To reach this goal, the group of youngsters involved in the project will need to manage the space themselves and will need to create a new NGO.

By bringing together a diverse group of young people from different countries, and by working together to build this new space, we want to create an educational social dynamic and stimulate cultural exchange. Through collaborative project management, the participants will gain a positive identity, deepen their understanding of other cultures, learn foreign languages, and feel part of a bigger whole.

By practicing collective group processes, all participants will have the opportunity to express themselves, and to experiment with ways of making decisions and executing them in joint cooperation.

Project’s vision

This project offers many learning opportunities, allowing volunteers to expand their knowledge through project management or by developing manual skills (wood or metal working, taking pictures,...). We think that building, sharing know-how, learning about different ways of living and having fun together is the perfect way to get to know each other.

Project’s objectives

  • Empower all the participants (both local and international) 
  • Reappropriate empty buildings 
  • Offer people new experiences: Every country, city, building, person or group is different.
  • Create a space open to everybody, and especially the youngsters. 
  • Co-create a place with the local communities and the international volunteers, where you can experiment and express yourself freely.

Who are we?

Every year our group is becoming bigger. People from the previous projects join and more Belgians want to join. We cannot take everyone along, but we do know that this year we’ll have about 100 people coming to Sarajevo. The whole group covers a range of different nationalities: Belgian, Kosovar, Macedonian, Swiss, Spanish, Austrian, German, Italian, Turkish, French, Moroccan, Albanian, etc. On the following 2 pages we present you the different groups that are organizing this year’s project

Toestand - Belgium

Toestand is a non-profit organization that focuses on the socio-cultural reactivation of vacant spaces in the city. Free (as in free speech, but also as in free coffee) space is scarce, especially in the city. At the same time, many places are temporarily empty for various reasons, for example because of a change in owners or a waiting time for planning permissions. By using these places temporarily, we provide them with social control and we thus safeguard them from bad intentions. At the same time we create a socio-cultural place that provides added value to a neighborhood and a city. In doing so, we turn a threat to the neighborhood into an opportunity.

Ecology, culture and social cohesion are central to all our projects. Since 2012,we have worked with over 100 permanent partners and managed more than 40,000 m2, both in Belgium and abroad (Ukraine, Kosovo, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Macedonia and Albania). Additionally, we also support other projects of temporary use.

Toestand is the leading partner in this project. They have been doing the project for five years now. They hope that this project is a seed and that the created organizations will start organizing the same projects on their own in the future.

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