Re-Sorting Power Territories
Investigating social-material relations

In August 2023, an interdisciplinary group on the intersection of critical thinking, research, and designing gathered in the framework of “The Last Resort” Constructlab summer school. that took place on the domain of the once-private now publicly owned and temporarily opened Rubens Castle Elewijt, Belgium. To gain a better understanding of the site’s becoming public, the Re-Sortians examined social relations and engagements in and across the thick walls of the domain. Trying to unfold and map the social and power dynamics in the once-private castle and its surroundings. Questions arose regarding our own relationship as temporary inhabitants of the domain, the heritage site and the surrounding urban sprawl. Through conversations with neighbours, walks, reflective discussions and different collective performative and building actions, a collection of experiences was nourished that culminated in a performative guided tour, interrogating the site.

We contemplated the responsibility of deciding the fate of a heritage that is not our own, we wondered what interest the local inhabitants have in our presence. These questions resonated as we co-inhabited the location for approximately two weeks.

During our time we engaged in the castle and its domain, the local citizens and the non-humans. Delving into critical conversations, we mediated our thoughts on our own relationality to a former site of power and superiority, the implications of our actions, the purpose of the summer school, and the practices of re-activation. Bridging the gap between us and the neighbourhood, we hosted neighbourhood gatherings offering forged teas and bought sweets, trying to foster an exchange of memories, ideas, potentials, and visions for the future of the domain.


Throughout the workshop, we tried to cultivate an understanding of what it means to inhabit vs. to own, to immigrate vs to inherit, to change vs. to keep, to remember or to adapt and comment or to cultivate or to abandon. We applied a critical consciousness to our actions while remaining hopeful for the future. Expressing our emotions, doubts, and hopes, we engaged and transformed our investment into a collaborative installation and a performance within the castle’s garden: We guided our audience through the castle to our physical installation, reading aloud the questions we had posed to ourselves, planting seeds for the future in the composted installation, trying to visualise our reflections on the castle, its surrounding citizens and their mutual future.