The Brussels Bike Hundred

100 portraits, stories and bicycles

We’re teaming up with Bike for Brussels to put together a 100-strong selection of local heroes shaping the city each in their own way. From designers and DJs to performers and publishers, these are the creatives riding Brussels forward.

Kevin De Roeck

Kevin De Roeck, 1993

Architect and DJ

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I study and work as an architect in offices based in Brussels and Basel. I also experiment with sound: alongside Oscar Broeckhoven, we make up the DJ duo bmom and host the Oorvijg shows on the former, Red Light Radio and, more recently, The Word Radio.

How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?

Sint-Lucas’ School of Architecture is located off Place Liedtsplein. Students commuting from outside the city by train had to walk through the red light district every morning to get there. This might be one of there reasons why so many parents preferred having their kids study in Leuven or Ghent after visiting this place for the first time with their child prodigy. Yet this feature, together with many other reasons, is precisely what shaped our school. You could feel a certain drive here, without any prejudice or boundary. We were autonomous. This was certainly incited by architect-cum-professor Jan de Vylder, as he shaped and encouraged the existing atmosphere. When working for the local architectural practice 51N4E, I came to truly recognise what architecture could mean as a game-changer in policymaking. I learned to embrace the city’s continuous challenges rather than criticise them, in order to tackle its slow nature of changing existing consensuses. Thanks to this experience, I saw experimentation as being a possible political narrative.

List three things you like the most about Brussels.

  • Brussels is a well-established museum of corner situations; a woven carpet of absurdly diverse places connected through specific frictions. This phenomenological play seems to be a trigger for anyone of its citizens. And yet, it’s all about how to deal with those encounters and embrace them.
  • This city is defined by its events and how they came into being. What goes around shows off so many opportunities. Unfortunately, our government isn’t always aware of that.
  • Its everlasting unsound position not to define itself. Think, for instance, of Bourse/Beurs or the Northern Quarter.

List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.

  • When going to college, my father wanted me to cycle to school. It was a fairly long journey and was how I met a girl from our village. After losing contact for almost a decade, we found ourselves living in Brussels. We decided to meet up again one day, and now live together in a quiet street somewhere under the concrete VRT tower.
  • A bicycle extends one’s power to move and broaden up one’s perception of space. Sporadic getaways with my first second-hand race bike together with a zoom recorder or a borrowed Nikon D850 in my hand got me to explore my new hometown six years ago.
  • My parents devoted their life to music. So as a kid, I spent almost every night in my father’s recording studio in the basement of our house in Heist-op-den-Berg. I would relisten to my selfmade samples and recordings while cycling to school the day after.

List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.

  • The axe connecting Saint Mary’s Royal Church to Place Poelaertplein, because we used to ride our bikes down there to sit on the concrete pillars surrounding this square to watch the city from above. It almost feels like flying over the city.
  • Unfortunately, frequent public transport doesn’t reach all the outskirts of our capital city – and let’s acknowledge that it’s quite heroic to opt for your bike instead of waiting for a tram. It’s faster anyways: you never have to wait and define your own pace. Cycling from Place Meiserplein towards the city centre, we often can detect a bus trailing behind as streets are blocked with cars parked on both sides, which is ironic to say the least. So we smile at the bus driver and ride on at our own speed. It’s collective arrogance as well as an approach to counter the subordinate position of cyclists in Brussels.
  • I once worked in a factory in Vilvoorde, to make some money to pay for a New York-based summer school. I would ride my bike along the canal, crossing huge, abandoned factories segregating the city from its infamous suburban outskirts. It was simply beautiful, and a good narrative for an interesting journey along Hudson River’s west bank, mostly discovered on a borrowed bike.