This historic case concerns the planning of the social area of the Faculty of Medicine of the Catholic University of Louvain and, more specifically, the design, construction and collective transformations of the Maison Médicale known as "La Mémé".
Problems and Purpose
In the master plan proposed by the University for the whole of this site, the campus appeared cut off from the rest of the urban fabric, and the functions were clearly separated, according to the principle of zoning. In response, a group of medical students protested against this plan, and demanded an alternative project. More specifically, they wanted the campus to be more integrated into the neighborhood, for its organization to be more fluid and for its design to take into account the opinions of neighboring residents. The students also wanted to be able to get involved in the design of their future place of life and study and, above all, to put into practice and implement, through architecture and town planning, a vision of society and values which were theirs. Thus, it was partly a question of replacing hierarchical relationships with egalitarian ones, of countering individualism and anonymity by rethinking living together and the community, but also of gaining autonomy and in freedom .
Background History and Context
In 1968, following the split of the Catholic University of Louvain into two independent entities, the French-speaking branch left the Flemish city which gives it its name to settle in Louvain-La-Neuve, in Brabant-Wallon. Since then, the campus of the Faculty of Medicine and the university hospital have been established in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, a peripheral municipality of Brussels.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The protesting students were met with a refusal of the University to modify the master plan, but were given the choice of the architect in charge of the design of their "social zone", that is to say of the inhabited part of the campus, reserved for housing, community facilities, and leisure facilities. Lucien Kroll was selected. The architect Lucien Kroll, and more precisely his studio, had indeed already carried out experiments in participatory architecture, for the design of a unit of 15 houses in Brussels (1961-1964), of a series of light buildings on the site of the abbey of Maredsous (1957-1972) and of the “Family house” (1965-1968), a specialized primary school, located in Braine-l'Alleud. A long-term participatory process (1969-1982) began, which brought together different generations of medical students but also professors, doctors, nurses, residents of neighboring districts, children, workers, architects and landscapers. Relations with the project manager — the university — nevertheless proved to be complicated. 
Participant Recruitment and Selection
At the beginning, the participants were not recruited in the strict sense of the term, insofar as they were the initiators of the process. As the process spread out over a long period of time, the people subsequently brought to participate were those who lived in the place (e.g. successive generations of students), people who were to be its users (e.g. children of a school which was established on the site later), or builders (e.g. masons, who had a certain creative latitude).
Methods and Tools Used
One of the peculiarities of this case is that the tools of architects and construction techniques were opened up and made accessible to the uninitiated. The flagship building of the social area, the Medical House, known as "La Mémé" is also a flexible and modular building, which has enabled successive generations of students to "participate" in shaping their lived environment, even well after the design of the project.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
As a first step, Lucien Kroll and his collaborators suggested carrying out the master plan of the site and collectively defining the arrangement of the functions, the layout of the various buildings, and the connections between them. The operation was as follows: each participant acted as the spokesperson for a different function (housing, administration, catering, shops, public facilities, etc.) and positioned colored polyester blocks representing their function consistently in the model of the site. The locations were thus discussed and negotiated, and the functions mixed. Through meetings and working sessions, the plan gradually crystallized into an organic, porous, spongy, hybrid whole, taking into account all the “compatible contradictions”. 
In addition to the master plan, the Kroll workshop set about designing and carrying out the landscaping treatment, but also five of the buildings in this overall plan: La “Mémé”, la “Mairie”, the university restaurant, the ecumenical center and, later, the Alma metro station; this was done mostly by open participation.
For the Mémé building, the participants worked on the volumetry and the layout of the functions on a large model of colored plastic foam. The building, which houses student accommodation as well as a series of public facilities and shops, was designed as a modular structure. To implement it, Kroll, inspired by the work of the SAR and John Habraken, used a system of slabs — floors without falling beams, supported by columns arranged in a grid (10 + 20). The structure is equipped with the minimum equipment to be functional (prefabricated stairs and sanitary facilities, water, gas and electricity supplies). It can be "dressed" in different ways using standard but removable window frames. Thanks to the freedom left by the supporting structure and the use of removable walls, the space can be arranged and rearranged. From the start, the first inhabitants will also be invited to place and move partitions to arrange their personal accommodation, while negotiating between them the arrangement of common spaces (roof garden, interior street, etc.). Thus, the building has the particularity of combining the imperatives of industrialization (standardization, prefabrication, etc.), and the possibilities of particularization, both aesthetic and spatial . These particularizations can also be renewed over time: the building offers residents — students, a moving and dynamic community — the possibility of making the building evolve according to the way of life and needs of individuals and the community.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The “Mémé” site is considered to be both a precursor and emblematic example of participatory architecture.  Architecture and the various participatory processes linked to its design, construction, and successive transformations have been the subject of publications , exhibitions , and continue to be debated.  They still inspire today many participatory processes and architectural achievements which are co-realized and co-constructed, but also flexible and modular. 
According to the architect, researcher and director, Elodie Degavre, who conducted a series of interviews with former inhabitants of the "Mémé", the building itself and the possibility of transforming it led some of them to take awareness of the political but also the poetic significance of participatory architecture,  even well after its conception. For years, the building has been cheerfully transformed. It should nevertheless be emphasized that with the safety standards in force today, the modular and flexible aspect of the project is compromised: the partitions can no longer be moved.
Recently, the Mémé site was inscribed on the Brussels heritage preservation list , notably asking questions about what should be "preserved": the architecture or the history behind it and the utopian ideas that are still relevant today.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
To conclude, the case is notable for three aspects:
- this is an initiative of the students themselves, who have given themselves the means to take charge of their living environment (look for an architect, define a project in accordance with their ideals, etc.);
- the tools of architects and construction techniques have been made accessible;
- participation took place over a long period of time, bringing together different audiences depending on the stage of the project.
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 Site of the Mémé in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert — Patrimoine — Erfgoed. (n.d.). Accessed January 18, 2021, http://patrimoine.brussels/news/site-de-la-meme-a-woluwe-saint-lambert
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 Durant, J. (2020, November 13). Le site de la mémé inscrit sur la liste de sauvegarde du patrimoine bruxellois. Accessed January 18, 2021, at the RTBF Info website: https://www.rtbf.be/info/regions/bruxelles/detail_le-site-de-la-meme-inscrit-sur-la-liste-de-sauavee -of-brussels-heritage? id = 10631120