How Hal 5 in Leuven turned old railroad halls into a cultural meeting place

Would you like to escape the busy shopping streets of Leuven in a place where sustainability and hostility are important? Then Hal 5 is definitely something for you. Everyone is welcome there to have a bite to eat, pick vegetables, do some grocery shopping, take part in an event or organise one. For the series Reporting the city, 21bis-reporters Jill Apers and Zoë Elmhaned went to talk to coordinator Hanne Vanhaverbeke. She has been working on this temporarily project since its inception and knows better than anyone what this place has to offer.


Hall 5 is a former industrial workshop that you can find behind Leuven Station, in the heart of Kessel-Lo. If you walk to the end of the Locomotievenpad, you will find yourself directly in sight of the building. Three-and-a-half years ago, Hal 5 VZW was allowed to reallocate the building with a temporarily dynamic project that transformed the location into a lively meeting place.With its project, various organisations and initiatives are given the opportunity to spread their wings and take part in sustainable entrepreneurship for a five-year long term. Their project was organised together with 14 partners around three themes: food, exercise and community building. The location offers a bar, a packaging-free caterer, an organic bakery, a solidarity supermarket, a community garden and so much more.


One of the many facades of Hal 5

Importance of its character 

The hall is an important and protected monument in the neighbourhood. It has a rich history that goes back to 1860’s, the period of the Belgian Industrial Revolution.The establishment provided more employment opportunities in that time and subsequently a significant increase in population of its area. It had a major role in Leuven’s commerce. For this historic reason it was important for the city of Leuven to transform this railway site into a multifunctional place. By carrying out intensive restoration work, this vision has become a reality. By now, it is impossible to imagine Kessel-Lo without Hal 5.

Text and report: Jill Apers & Zoë Elmhaned, photos: Zoë Elmhaned