The ‘Soup Station’ for commuters in Genk

Client: City of Genk 

Partner: Design Flanders

Location: Belgium

Post Ford Probes. The ‘Soup Station’ for commuters in Genk 


Photo: Conflict and Design

What was the problem?

The automobile factory in Genk (Belgium) closed its doors in 2014. The decision affected 10,000 workers and the immense terrains of the factory will now have to look for new activities.

How can we develop a new work context for the former Ford Genk workers? How can we create other, meaningful structures between services, raw materials and infrastructures? How can designers co-operate with local ‘experts’ to develop a new, local economic and environmental reality? Those questions were the subject of the ‘Post Ford’ project, organised for the 7th Design Triennial of Flanders in 2013.

What did they do?

The workshop, led by designers Irma Földényi and Daniela Dossi, focused on the social impact that the closure of Ford Genk would have. The needs of the workers in the ‘post-Ford era’ were heard, analysed and clarified.

Many workers in their interviews had mentioned to like cooking, and to be worried about their health. Also, often ‘time’ was mentioned as costly asset. They then started in the workshop, to work in teams to formulate possible answers to their questions.

Now that Genk’s monocultural industry no longer exists, new work perspectives must be developed for the population in this region. The existing knowledge and skills of the workers, combined with existing and new types of distribution and production, can provide surprising connections and insights. By searching for ways
to connect various aspects, new concepts for services and models that link local institutions and business strategies with the specific skills of the Ford Genk workers were developed into Post Ford Probes.

What was the result?

Post Ford Probes are a constellation of small, open and connective work realities to achieve a new, environmentally-based society and are based on the major existing production contexts in the Genk region, such as agriculture, mobility, craft and culture.

One of the experimental strategies developed in the workshop is Soup Station. This is a service where commuters can deposit their groceries in a mobile kitchen at the Genk train station. The supplied ingredients will be used for fresh soup made by a chef (a former Ford Genk worker with culinary skills and ambitions) and can be picked-up in the evening by these same commuters. This scenario was further developed and tested as a prototype in January 2014 during the 7th Design Triennial.

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