Creative Harbor
An inclusive, circular design solution for a ‘making and learning lab’ in Leuven, Belgium.


The Creative Harbor is a design solution for a ‘making and learning hub’ which reuses an old grain mill room in a former beer brewery in Leuven, Belgium. The design focuses on applying and promoting circularity while providing a vibrant space which encourages creative cooperation between different age and social groups. In a cafe and workspace with flexible, modular furniture a multitude of functions can be hosted, e.g. circular workshops, lectures, or exhibitions, and many more.

Project description

The Creative Harbor applies and promotes circularity while providing a space which encourages creative cooperation between different age and social groups. In a cafe and workspace with flexible, modular furniture, a multitude of functions can be hosted, e.g. circular workshops, lectures, or exhibitions. The design is not only a space, it also provides a system of services within, and around it. From a colorful brand and social media presence, to collaborations with schools and elderly homes in the area, the design's pre-services aim at bringing people together in the Creative Harbor. Services include circular furniture made with the use of open source design (and our own addition to it) which can be adapted to the needs of the space, as well as events in the space. The post-services are tangible and intangible: knowledge and a sense of community, sustainable merchandise, and items created during workshops. The space has a strong identity and can move locations, spread in time.


  • Products
  • Services
  • Design systems

Contact info

Adela Hankus Iske Tjolle Rani Veroustraete

Cumulus ID: TMoreBEGreen2020

Your institution

Thomas More University of Applied Sciences - Belgium - Department of Interior, Design and Architecture / Post-graduate Space and Service Design

Faculty/Course advisor

Nansi Van Geetsom Andrea Wilkinson Jolien Maes Jan Roekens

Your stakeholders

Public organization: SOM (Samen Onderwijs Maken)

Overview About Your Solution

Welcome to the Creative Harbor. Our design reused and rejuvenated a grain mill room of an old industrial beer brewery in Leuven, Belgium. The project is commissioned by SOM an organization dedicated to innovating education with the local community. Our main aim is to create an open, vibrant space which promotes and encourages creative cooperation between different age and social groups, and strives for a circular design.

Our initial research: measuring the space, learning about its surroundings, history, and the people around it, was followed with brainstorming and testing our design. Thanks to feedback from the clients, our tutors and peers, we ended up with results which involve different actors making the design participatory.

We propose a modular, all-inclusive and circular space which serves as a cafe area and additional ‘white space’, workplace. The furniture (chairs, shelves, lockers) in the space is open-source design OpenDesk. We contributed by creating our own tables which can be combined into a huge worktable and separated into smaller workplaces, as well as reused in different spaces and contexts. OpenDesk furniture can be locally laser-cut from singular wood plates, significantly cutting down its carbon footprint. Furthermore, a stair podium meant for various sitting or even lying options can also serve as pedestals during exhibitions. Apart from the space itself, the Creative Harbor offers a service system. This includes pre-services: a visible and memorable brand, recognizable city mark, a proposal for social media (e.g. Instagram) as well as connections with elderly houses and schools in the area (through information sessions and fliers). The services within the Creative Harbor include workshops which aim to create a social impact and involve citizens, e.g. retired electricians ready to give a simple class of ‘how to fix a lamp’. All workshops revolve around sustainable and circular ideas. Lectures on various topics, including explanations of circularity, as well as exhibitions of local artists and art schools are additional proposed uses for the space. Post-services comprise of souvenirs in the form of anything created in the ‘making and learning space’, leaflets and postcards made from recycled paper as well as a sense of community between people of all ages from all sorts of social and national backgrounds.

Circularity flows within the Creative Harbor in its structure as well as the ‘making and learning’ opportunities on site.

Project Images

The making and learning hub will temporarily be located in the old industrial harbor – Vaartkom in Leuven, Belgium. The Creative Harbor is our solution for the unused grain mill room, aiming to revitalize the area by making it attractive and inviting.

Project Images

This design is a system, and includes elements of space, service and product design. The components create a strong visual style and brand, and can be relocated, as the Creative Harbor expands in the future. The loop of the design is closed by an encouragement of reusing and refurbishing it.

Project Images

The Creative Harbor includes indicated Pre-Services, Services, and Post-Services, adding up to the service design of this project.

Project Images

The unused grain mill room can be rearranged in an infinite number of ways, fitting the needs of different events. All furniture is meant to be used in all scenarios (no storage needed) and can be minimized by putting the tables and pedestals together, or expanded by laying out the furniture.

Project Images

Our table design contributes to the OpenDesk platform of open source design furniture. The tables come in various heights and can be put together in a large workspace or used separately. Modular pegboards serve as flexible walls where items can be hung, attached or stored.