La Pile: Producing and using electricity at human scale? Experimenting in Brussels neighbourhoods (2018 >, 2024

What happens behind the power socket?

Because, apparently, the electricity it delivers comes from far away, pollutes our natural environment and is more expensive than ever.

Already since 2019, as part of its trajectory, “La Pile” City Mine(d) is looking into ways to give everybody access to local, cheaper and cleaner electricity. A quest bolstered by inspiring pioneers and professionals with a technical, legal or social background. Local residents and other actors from Brussels’ Midi and North neighbourhoods felt attracted. They started experimenting for real with the insight gathered in La Pile meet ups, workshops and exhibitions.

Meanwhile, a Brussels and truly social pilot project to share solar energy (SunSud) has been carried out. A developing energy community (Pilone) and emerging questions about renovation at neighbourhood scale (Remorque Réno) open up a redrawing of the energy market to quite a number of people.

Ways in which City Mine(d) confronts complex issues.


In our everyday lives, we rely upon a number of systems: the economy, energy, water, traffic, …. These systems are complex and are set up and managed by a wide range of actors with expert knowledge. These actors have to take a variety of elements into account at different levels. Most often we feel like passive consumers of these systems. And when it comes to changing them, to make them fairer or more sustainable, we feel completely powerless.

By bringing together its end-users, City Mine(d) tries to better understand these systems, and make room for imagining and testing small scale changes and improvements. This takes place in long-running processes of which the route is not mapped out in advance. Outputs become clear along the way through the input of many (at times contradicting) perspectives. And even though not every trial leads to success, it often does lead to new insights. Of primary concern is maintaining a human scale, which, we believe, reduces the risk of waste and oppression of vulnerable users.

La Pile is an example of the search for levers for improvement in the energy system. City Mine(d) refers to processes such as La Pile as “Open-ended design”. It is inspired by system thinking as a way to better understand and influence reality.

All info on
Publication: read / download your digital copy here (Fr-En)

Illustrations by:
Fanny Monier

Pictures by:
Christopher Daley
Emily Ane Smith
Lou Boulanger
Michael Delausnay
Pragma Studio

  • Date: 2024
  • Location: Brussels
  • Type: Project
  • Status: Completed