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LABIOMISTA flourishes as garden of the future

With the central theme "Future Garden," LABIOMISTA continues to grow in 2024 as an inspiring meeting place for visitors from home and abroad, and as a breeding ground for ideas and collaborations. The park surprises with many new animals and artworks while work is in full swing on a new pyramid-shaped building: Future Garden. This complex will be home to a pair of tapirs and is the lever of the LaVieBreede neighborhood project. An artistic plan, designed by Koen Vanmechelen in collaboration with the city of Genk and the neighborhood, that aims to integrate, revitalize and strengthen the neighborhood around LABIOMISTA.


"The future is in our Gardens" reads LABIOMISTA's campaign image. The sixth season finds inspiration in the new complex, Future Garden, currently under construction in LABIOMISTA. Visitors have the unique opportunity to witness up close the development of this "garden of the future" that will provide space for a couple of tapirs, a studio and a laboratory space (started up i.s.m. UHasselt). The project will be officially opened in the summer of 2024.

"In Future Garden, man, nature and technology merge. As we struggle with ourselves and our environment, a possible revolution germinates in our gardens - the cradle of our future," says Koen Vanmechelen."LABIOMISTA invites us to ignite this transformation ourselves by reconnecting with the earth beneath our feet.In Future Garden, we bring together scientific insight with knowledge from art and with healthy 'farm sense.'Thus, we seek a new way forward and nurture unconventional ideas that can allow the future to blossom in unexpected and imaginative ways." Young people in the annual LaMouseion thought experiment will also work on this theme over the summer. During the children's rights festival "Day of Cosmogolem," this year on May 19, "Dream Garden" will translate the approach to the youngest visitors.


The rest of the park also underwent a metamorphosis during the winter break with three newly installed monumental sculptures, a new interpretation of the imposing eagle enclosure and a host of other animals symbolizing the rich diversity of our planet. "A wide walkway takes you along different continents where the white ear pheasants from the Himalayan mountains, zebras from the African savanna and the Darwin Nandu from the Andes tell age-old stories.In LABIOMISTA, every step, sound and sight expands your view of the cultural patchwork of our world.It is a chance to dream about the future," Vanmechelen says.

The three new sculptures: Caduceus, See Me and Domesticated Giant depict how "cross-pollination" is LABIOMISTA's modus operandi; nature and culture, local and global, art - science and community. Everything comes together in the 24-acre park.


By attracting both national and international audiences, partnerships and investments, LABIOMISTA has created new economic opportunities for local people in a region with significant challenges. Since opening in 2019, LABIOMISTA's revenues are fully reinvested in the public role of the park and in projects in the neighborhood. A conscious decision was also made not to develop commercial hospitality activities on the site but instead to focus on promoting the growth of local businesses and neighborhood initiatives. This vision is made concrete in 'LaVieBreede'; an initiative by LABIOMISTA & OpUnDi Genk based on a concept by Koen Vanmechelen. With this initiative, the further transformation of the Genk-North district is realized, based on the connecting narrative and the opportunities LABIOMISTA offers. Together with the neighborhood, an innovative, sustainable and accessible development plan is being developed. One example is Nomadland with its allotments, picnic areas and open spaces for events is, as is Mixed Menu Kiosk, the hands-on activation project for young people and neighborhood residents looking for work.

Mayor Wim Dries: "Through the community operation of OpUnDi Genk, we continue to reach out to the neighborhood from LABIOMISTA and are committed to lowering some demographic barriers. Of the more than 170,000 visitors since LABIOMISTA opened in 2019, 12% were from Genk. Admission will continue to be free for Genk residents and anyone under 18 in 2024."

Mixed Menu Wallpaper

Leveraging Future Garden, "Mixed Menu Wallpaper" is being launched this year in King Baudouin Avenue; a participatory project that starts from the rich and diverse culinary traditions that characterize the neighborhood. "Mixed Menu Wallpaper, like a menu, brings an array of diverse ingredients: colorful neighborhood recipes on façades and flags in the street, façade benches or 'tile swipes.' This is how the gardens of the future germinate in our neighborhoods as well," Vanmechelen says. Together with residents and local merchants, we use these ingredients to build a clear identity that depicts the diversity of residents and encourage the further flow of visitors to the neighborhood. "So more green, color and meeting space in the street, building on LABIOMISTA as a catalyst," concludes Mayor Wim Dries.


Season 2024 runs from March 30 to November 3, tickets are available from March 12. Visitors are welcome to join in reflecting on the future inspired by the (living) artworks. The season also traditionally opens and closes with an Open Studio where visitors also get access to the artist's studio. This year that will be on April 7 and November 3. Also mark Saturday, Aug. 24, in your calendar because that's when the sunset concert by B-Classic and AFF will take place at LABIOMISTA.



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