In 2017, sogent initiated a competitive procedure with negotiations to appoint a private partner. The project area includes a factory shed with heritage value and an old fire station. The team consisting of the architecture and engineering firm DENC-STUDIO, Dhooge & Meganck Architecture, Atelier Arne Deruyter, Matexi Projects nv and Matexi Oost-Vlaanderen nv emerged as the award recipient.
EXTRA PUBLIC GREEN SPACE
The project area is (too) heavily paved in its existing condition, which means that its natural value is also limited. The design team did not start from an analysis where it wanted to build, but from a research where it did not want to build (anymore). “We began to pit, soften and soften”, it reads. Since the former fire station on Peter Benoitlaan, designed by ir. Van De Vloet, has no heritage value and its visual character is limited, it will be demolished.
The part southwest of the central heritage building is still the only open space with vegetation in full soil. “We basically want to keep it that way and give it a public status,” according to the design team. In contrast to the highly programmed existing park, the new public park space will have a more natural layout.
With the exception of fire truck accessibility, the design keeps motorized traffic out of the interior area.
The parking of the car is collected underground with access close to Peter Benoitlaan. Two underground floors must keep the basement footprint as small as possible. “The conscious choice to go deep into the ground locally allows for robust green design to be realized elsewhere, making maximum use of ecosystem services,” says the design team.
Only after securing additional public and green areas did the designers move on to the architectural design. “Historically, the location has been a patchwork of large brick volumes. It is still like that today. We are therefore convinced that this place, in a certain sense, requires powerful buildings, each with its own identity. The footprint of the designed buildings and sidewalks is smaller than the existing ones. For example, we focus strongly on spatial efficiency. The names of the buildings are a nod to the site’s industrial past: Schietspoel, Knoop, Zelfkant and Bobijntjes.”
The design focuses strongly on climate-adaptive elements. In response to the existing relief, a strong blue-green structure is created, both in the private collective part and in the new public part of the park. This creates natural water retention and the design team makes optimal use of the soil’s sponge effect. In addition to the good infiltration capacity, we create sufficient buffer capacity through height differences to be able to absorb strong peaks. A robust green structure forms the counter-moulding of the buildings. In contrast to the former open park, the new landscape design deliberately opts for maximum greenery.
The landscape design creates transitions from fairly dense and intensely towering green areas to open zones. “We distinguish between tall-stemmed trees, multi-stemmed trees, flowering shrubs and climbing plants, fragrant perennials, aquatic plants, etc. Heat- and drought-resistant plants are adapted to both the current climate and the microclimate scenario. The different parts of the park and garden will have shady places and places to hide.”
HUNTING VENUE WITH URBAN DYNAMICS
In order to maintain and stimulate the vitality already built up, the project proposal further introduces to the housing program DE KNOOP: fertile ground with urban dynamism, with added value for the local residents and the wider neighbourhood.
DE KNOOP consists of four studios and measures slightly larger than 1000m²: not too small to be significant; not too large to avoid inconvenience.
Since the choice of location is extremely important to the viability of DE KNOOP, the designers will place it in a clearly visible, easily identifiable, accessible and hospitable place, centrally located, along the cycle and pedestrian axis, in the heart of the site.