The Mechelen Hundred

Portraits of a city's people, today

Nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen has often been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. Yet teaming up with the City of Mechelen, our line-up of 100 of the city’s most prominent people, places and projects proves the extent of its potential. From artists and creatives to critical thinkers and fighters, these are the powerhouses driving Mechelen forward one step at a time.

Noro Khachatryan

Noro Khachatryan

Architectural designer at Studiokhachatryan (1983)

Can you describe what you do?

In brief, I am an architectural and product designer. My work is a crossover of architecture, product design and crafts. It is based on a combination of emotion and technique, and in the execution I pay a lot of attention to form, finishing and details.

At Studio Khachatryan, we spend a lot of time on the researching process. We design objects, interiors and architectural elements for public and residential spaces, which we produce in cooperation with local and international companies. We don’t have a permanent production team, but for most projects I collaborate with different young designers and creatives.

Currently, the studio as well as our apartment are situated in a very compact urban house in the city center of Mechelen, a former clothing store that we renovated and restyled about four years ago.

How do you perceive Mechelen? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

Mechelen is a very compact and pretty city that makes it easy to organise and enjoy our family life. For personal and professional reasons, it is extremely important for me to spend a lot of time in the big cities, but after a hectic period of working on a project or travel, I like to stay in Mechelen for a while to retrieve my focus and get some rest. I also really appreciate the prevailing modest attitude of the people here.

What would you say is Mechelen’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

From a strategic point of view, Mechelen is quite ideally situated for our business. Although we work internationally, most of my contacts and clients are based in Brussels and Antwerp. The compactness of the city also means that you can quickly build a network with like-minded people.

How has Mechelen contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Over the past twenty years, Mechelen has undergone a significant metamorphosis. I am really inspired by and optimistic about living in a city that is moving in such a positive direction. This region also has a long and deep tradition of craftsmanship that really appeals to me.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

We have to come up with some durable solutions for the empty buildings in the center of the city. Although there are already quite some restaurants, more variety would be nice, with some interesting and creative lunch and dinner options.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?

Personally I always try to attain a feeling like I’m at home in the city that I am visiting – like a local would feel. Therefore I my advice wouldn’t be to visit spectacular things or places, but rather to try and experience a part of the normal daily urban life. For instance, start your day in a coffee bar (personal tip: Kaffee Ine, situated right in front of our studio) or at a nice terrace on a cozy square.

After that, just get lost in the small streets with their many beautiful historical buildings, like the Begijnhof. Also, following the water is a good way to explore the city, and now the Dyle is exposed Mechelen has more and more water…