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Thesis Award 2023

Every year since 2016, the Brussels Studies Institute (BSI) has awarded a prize to an outstanding master thesis on Brussels. This year, the BSI Thesis Award 2023 will be presented to Mika Hasselbring on Thursday 9 November at an award ceremony at the Halles Saint-Géry for his thesis on the role that small and medium-sized enterprises could play within local energy communities, applied to the Brussels North Quarter. The second place went to Joelle Spruytte and Sarah ten Berge for their analysis of how refugees perceive the infrastructure of the five Brussels reception centres. Finally, Antonin Lucic and Vera Vaessen won a shared third place for their studies on the history of the gendarmerie base in Ixelles and on the Dutch-language hip-hop scene in Brussels around the artists Zwangere Guy and STIKSTOF.

  1. Mika Hasselbring’s master thesis is entitled “Energy Communities & Productive Activities – The transition of Brussels’ North District to Renewable Energy” and was submitted as part of his Master in Urban Studies (VUB/ULB) under the guidance of Fabio Vanin and Griet Juwet. The research was praised by the jury for its innovative nature and its importance and societal impact for Brussels. “This master thesis impressively explores how energy communities can help address the two biggest challenges of our time, global warming and social inequality, which converge on a large scale in major cities like Brussels,” the jury said. Mika Hasselbring receives a prize of €2,000 and the BSI will produce a short video presenting his master’s thesis. He will also receive guidance in writing a peer-reviewed scientific article for the electronic journal Brussels Studies.
  2. Joelle Spruytte and Sarah ten Berge wrote a master thesis entitled “Life in Limbo. A spatial analysis of the Brussels reception centres and the lived experiences of their residents” (Master in de ingenieurswetenschappen: architectuur, KU Leuven, supervisor: Viviana d’Auria). This very graphic dissertation traces the journey of asylum seekers and the way in which they land and live in five Brussels reception centres. The thesis is very well structured and clearly indicates the needs of the refugees at each stage. Sarah ten Berge and Joëlle Spruytte have won a video presentation and coaching to write an article for Brussels Studies.
  3. Third place was awarded, ex-aequo, to Antonin Lucic and Vera Vaessen for their master theses “La caserne de gendarmerie d’Ixelles. Origine, construction, vie interne et adaptation, de la fin du 19ème siècle à 2018” (master’s degree in History, ULB, supervisor: Serge Jaumain) and “The thousand and more. Hybrid identity in the performance of Zwangere Guy and STIKSTOF” (Master in Dutch literature and culture, Utrecht University, supervisor: Geert Buelens).

The laureates, as the 18 applications, reflect the high level that young researchers manage to achieve, the importance of research on Brussels and its potential impact on Brussels’ policy. This exceptional edition of the BSI Thesis Award also shows the growing interest in research on Brussels within both French-speaking, Dutch-speaking, and even universities abroad.

List of the 17 theses evaluated by a jury composed by academic experts:


  1. HASSELBRING Mika Lauri “Energy communities & Productive Activities – The Transition of Brussels” Master in Urban Studies/Geography (ULB / VUB)
  2. TEN BERGE Sarah & SPRUYTTE Joelle “Life in Limbo A spatial analysis of the Brussels reception centres and the lived experiences of their residents.” Master in de ingenieurswetenschappen: architectuur (KU Leuven)
  3. LUCIC Antonin « La Caserne de Gendarmerie d’Ixelles. Origine, construction, vie interne et adaptation, de la fin du 19ème siècle à 2018 » Master en Histoire (ULB) (thesis only available on request)
  4. VAESSEN Vera “De duizend en meer. Hybride identiteit in de performance van Zwangere Guy en STIKSTOF” Master in Nederlandse Literatuur en Cultuur (Universiteit Utrecht)


  1. BEECKMAN Paulien “Circular reconversion of office buildings to social housing, Understanding the decision process” Master in Architectural Engineering (VUB)
  2. BETANCUR ARENAS Juliana “Women’s Participation in Urban Cycling beyond the Brussels Canal: A study on Motivators and Deterrents” Master in Urban Studies/Geography (ULB / VUB)
  3. CONTIPELLI Louisa “Towards environnemental justice? An analysis of urban greenspace (re)distribution in Brussels” Master in Urban Studies/Geography (ULB / VUB)
  4. HANCART Sacha « La répartition des compétences et le fédéralisme coopératif en matière de sans-abrisme à Bruxelles : des cache-misères ? » Master en Droit (ULB-UMons)
  5. HORCKMANS Robine “Motivaties en praktijken op de Brusselse tweedehandsmarkt” Master of Science in Sociologie (VUB)
  6. INGHELBRECHT Eline “United in Biodiversity? Are Brussels’ citizens’ collectives for UGS preservation protecting their own backyards or constituting an urban environmental movement?” Master in Urban Studies/Geography (ULB / VUB)
  7. MALINOWSKA Sylwia « L’histoire des réverbères à Bruxelles aux XVIIIème et XIXème siècles » Master en Histoire (ULB)
  8. MOUTAOUAKIL Anas “Connecting mobility policies to urban fabrics. The exnovation of the private automobile in the Brussels-Capital Region and its outskirts” Master en Sciences et Gestion de l’environnement (ULB)
  9. NELISSEN Matthis “The Occupied City. Pathways and Deadlocks for a Social Just Brussels” Master in de ingenieurswetenschappen: architectuur (KU Leuven)
  10. ROSIER Alexia « La nature intégrée au bâti : analyse et outil pour acteurs immobiliers bruxellois » Executive Master Immobilier (USL-B) (thesis only available on request)
  11. VANHUFFLEN GARNIER Hector « Vers de nouvelles accessibilités. Le réaménagement de la chaussée de Waterloo et ses alentours au service d’une mobilité plus durable » Master en Architecture (ULB) (this candidate does not wish to share his thesis)
  12. VAN SWIETEN Anaïs « Quelle structuration donner à la coopérative de logement pour une solution de logement abordable à destination de la classe moyenne bruxelloise ? » Excecutive Master Immobilier (USL-B)
  13. VIAENE Mumtaaz “Architects can’t create housing alone. A social and durable reconfiguration of the Gandhi estate with its inhabitants” Master Architectuur (KU Leuven)


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