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.

Piet Weemaes

Piet Weemaes

Co-founder, Noordoever (1972)

Can you describe what you do?

As one of the founders of Noordoever, I run the restaurant together with my partner Dirk Vandevoort. Noordoever is a vegetarian and vegan concept space that combines food, shopping and a work-friendly environment. We are situated in a new, up-and-coming, vibrant neighbourhood located at the edge of the city centre, in front of the little harbour. We offer fresh, organic food – all prepared on a daily basis, always seasonal – and try to work with local farmers and suppliers as much as possible.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven is a very small but ever-growing city with a large and interesting history. You have the feeling you know everyone, and this gives Leuven a cosy atmosphere. Thanks to the University there’s a wide range of nationalities, providing the city with a very international outlook despite its small scale.

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

You often hear residents claiming that even after having finished their studies in Leuven, they have no desire to leave the city, and I’d put this down to its laid-back vibe. I also love how everything in the city can be reached by foot.

I would like to see more possibilities made for bold architecture, and out-of-the-box, innovative projects.

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

Precisely due to Leuven being so small, this encouraged me to frequently travel and explore a lot of (other) international cities. This is what lead me to work on the idea of Noordoever: Leuven was still a little behind on the vegetarian and vegan food hype at the time.

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

I would like to see more possibilities made for bold architecture, and out-of-the-box, innovative projects. I would encourage Leuven’s entrepreneurial spirits to start their own businesses. Also, an improved safety system for cyclists and pedestrians should be developed. And of course, more green spots in the city centre would be welcome, although that’s a given.

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

A weekend off most likely means extra time spent with my family. That could mean a walk through the city, visiting new lunch spots or checking out coffee joints. Or some shopping on the Mechelsestraat/Dirk Boutslaan and the Parijsstraat areas, which we love. On Saturdays there’s also a small market on Brusselsestraat which offers nice local products. And on Sundays we usually head to the Botanical Garden, or visit the pond in the Kessel-Lo Provincial Domain.