The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Paul-Armand Verhaegen

Paul-Armand Verhaegen

Co-founder, Area3001 (1977)

Can you describe what you do?

I’m a data scientist and engineer by day and the father of three amazing daughters by night. I studied in Leuven for three years, went away, then came back for ten more years. I now no longer live in Leuven, although I still come here every Wednesday for our Area3001 hacker-space meeting. I love this scene, made up of highly-intelligent and kind people, and I’m very proud and humble to be able to call all these amazing geeks my friends.

How do you perceive Leuven?

To me, Leuven is almost synonymous to an open mind. The injection of young ideas and morale from University graduates can be felt throughout every conversation you overhear, whether at the groceries or by the school gates. Still, I would to see more young people get passionate and involved in tech, though.

The injection of young ideas and morale from University graduates can be felt throughout every conversation you overhear.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city?

Without a doubt, the University – or rather, the students who make up the University. I rent out student rooms on the side, and my other half and I try to be a little different from your typical landlord, creating an atmosphere where students can really grow and see each other as more than just flatmates. Maybe I’m trying to give back a little of what Leuven gave to me? Leuven has the highest concentration of like-minded people, and without these people, my personal and work lives would both look very different.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

Marie Jeanne, maker of the finest fritjes available, probably best encapsulates the spirit of Leuven nightlife. Pretty much anyone from my generation and up will have an anecdote to share about this godmother to the students.

area3001.com