From the armchair factory to the tie factory
Foundation of a factory... of links
In 2010, Joëlle Yana and Xavier Campion had already been developing their project for an atypical cultural space for ten years. Affected by social isolation and convinced that individualism was the evil of the century, they dreamed of creating a place based on encounters and interest in the Other, an oasis where audiences and disciplines could meet.
They visited by chance a factory in the lower part of Saint-Gilles, which was certainly in a poor state of repair, but full of promise. They gathered a few friends around them (Thomas and Catherine Delvaux, Geneviève van Tichelen, Damien Roegiers, Emmanuel Donnet, Benoît Herssens), who constituted the "knitters" of the first hour. They created, with a good dose of unconsciousness, a cooperative (Théodore SC) to launch the project and house the utopia.
The Link Factory was up and running, and more than forty co-operators joined them in the months that followed.
At the time, the building still housed a furniture factory, after having been a pasta factory and then a shoe factory. For nearly three years, volunteers and co-operators from all walks of life joined in the adventure and rolled up their sleeves to accompany the first phase of the renovation. We can never thank them enough : they made it possible for the project to blossom and for La Tricoterie to open on 6 March 2013..
During these different phases of renovation, we tried to keep the industrial soul of this century-old place by renovating the 1600m² of the building while preserving the original architectural elements, but also by carrying out the necessary upgrades to welcome the public, by injecting a maximum of daylight and by optimising the energy issues. This renovation was carried out by numerous craftsmen and artists who also contributed to the development of a singular and coherent aesthetic, particularly regarding the furniture and equipment.
The first two years of operation of the site were joyful, chaotic, and full of surprises. Everyone had to work hard and learn new skills. But thanks to a remarkable collective energy, , the boat stayed afloat.
After five years of opening, the project was structured : the Théodore cooperative, owner of the buildings, became the sole organiser of the project’s event and catering activities, while La Tricoterie ASBL became solely responsible for the socio-cultural programming. An organisational chart was drawn up, the project became more professional, and the services, skills and expertise diversified.
2021 : the Nieuw Beginning
In 2021, La Tricoterie has started its "New Beginning" : following a major fundraising campaign, the cooperative has grown from 47 to 342 co-operators and has raised more than €500,000. Thanks to these funds, the cooperative was able to buy the last piece of the old industrial factory : an 800m² building located right next to the first building purchased in 2010.
After more than a year and a half of work (in COVID time !), the new spaces of La Tricoterie were inaugurated on 16 September 2022. The public was then able to discover the centrepiece of this renovation : the Boudoir, a 150-seat showcase with optimal acoustics and designed to host classical music, unamplified light music and theatre. The design was carried out by Jeannot Gillis, engineer and co-operator, as well as by Bernard André, architect, but also with the important contribution of our entire team. The acoustician Daniel Léon also provided valuable advice.
On the first floor, the new building now includes another new room, le Grenier, , as well as two green roofs and facilities that make almost all the Tricoterie’s spaces accessible to people with reduced mobility.
La Tricoterie, today, is...
... more than 1600m²
... 7 spaces dedicated to our programming and available for hire
... more than 100 people employed each month
... more than 500 activities per year
... more than 85.000 people come through our doors every year !
Our project won the Social Economy Award in 2016, and we continue to grow every day, staying true to our philosophy and values. It is the wonderful encounters we have been lucky enough to make over the past ten years that have made this wonderful human adventure possible. Thank you to all of you who have supported us for years and given our "Link Factory" its full meaning !