Hertstraat, Ghent

Hertstraat, Ghent

2023
EvoltaProjectsHertstraat, Ghent
Client
Ghent City Council
Location
Ghent
Architect
Public Space Team

Greening and depaving of 6 streets in Ghent

Innovative urban development for a climate-robust city

Between the Muinkschelde River and King Albert I Park lies a piece of Ghent with a special history. For centuries, the Muinkmeersen remained a marshy area within the city walls where the monks of St. Peter’s Abbey bleached linen, among other things. In 1851, part of it was set up as a zoo, after which the city bought the land and developed it as a combination of an urban park, avenues with mansions and avenues with workmen’s houses. The neighbourhood became an example of urban development innovation from the early 20th century.

One hundred years later, the City of Ghent wants to reclaim the historic district as an example of urban development innovation. Not in response to population growth and housing a growing working class this time, but rather to prepare the city for tomorrow’s challenges. Our Public Spaces team is responsible for the entire study assignment, from study to design, tendering and supervision of the works.

Climate change is at the top of the City of Ghent’s list of challenges. Periods of extreme heat and heavy rainfall are becoming more frequent, as the city’s many pavements create an urban heat island effect. The design of the Hertstraat cluster therefore maximises the use of depaving. This frees up space for façade gardens up to 2 metres (!) wide, tree basins and wadis. There is maximum possibility for water infiltration in the many green areas and permeable pavements. The greenery consists of a combination of robust and climate-resistant plant species that thrive in dry and temporarily wet soils. The innovative design allows current and future residents to find a place amongst the greenery in the city centre.

The streets will be redesigned as a residential area – as living streets with a strong residential function. This should not only slow down the speed of traffic, but also create a shared space with seating and play incentives. A place where residents can meet up.

A less visible aspect, but a significant part of the project, is the construction of sewers. Close to the Lower Scheldt and within the highly urbanised context of Ghent, this is inevitably a challenge.

Such a drastic change requires support. For this reason, we developed an extensive participation and communication process, where local residents could have a seat at the design tables to shape their street with us.

Both the climate-resilient design and strong participatory process earned bronze at the 2020 VLARIO Innovation Award ceremony.

WATT Revive, Ghent

WATT Revive, Ghent

2019
EvoltaProjectsWATT Revive, Ghent
Client
Revive
Location
Ghent
Architect
Public Space Team

Redeveloping an abandoned industrial site into a vibrant residential and working neighbourhood

A successful redevelopment with (an ecological) character

Along with project developer Revive and partners KRAS architects, Establis, Boydens and Fris in het Landschap, we transformed one of Ghent’s dirtiest spots into one of its greenest. A sustainable living and working neighbourhood in the heart of the city with no fewer than 14 Nearly Zero-Energy (NZE) homes and 59 NZE apartments, room for offices and commercial spaces, and a 2,000 m² public garden.
Our Public Spaces team helped translate the master plan into some compelling designs, implementation files and the final redevelopment.

High-quality motor oil based on rapeseed had been produced at the old Elektrion site since 1926, leading to serious soil contamination up to 7 metres deep. Initially, the area was remediated and a master plan and visual quality plan were prepared.

New life was breathed into the existing office building and the remaining structure of the historic sheds by renovating, remodelling and repurposing them into a business centre with light-filled, well-insulated office spaces, attached to a co-working space. Authentic elements were restored to their former glory as far as possible.

In addition to the office development, two multi-family homes were erected in white brick as accent buildings on the site. Just like all the other homes and apartments, they were designed in accordance with NZE standards and connected to the site’s Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES) system.

The project paid close attention to the needs of the residents. The site was upgraded to a semi-public space and made accessible to the neighbourhood. In addition, a ‘neighbourhood barn’ was provided, where residents and neighbours can organise activities. We designed the community garden and created some new soft connections between Pieter Colpaertsteeg and the Groene Vallei for pedestrians and cyclists. The neighbourhood is car-free today and accessible only to emergency vehicles and refuse services.

The landscape design puts maximum emphasis on a natural and casual atmosphere. The indoor garden is a place where people can meet, relax and pick something nice from the berry bushes on the park edges or from the vegetable garden trays. We designed a rolling park landscape, which contrasts nicely with the strong lines of the surrounding architecture. The diversified vegetation and elevation changes keep the garden interesting throughout the various seasons, providing healthy biodiversity.

This project illustrates our way of working in a complex urban environment, and shows how, in consultation with all the services, we can provide a high-quality, contemporary response to the urban challenges of today and tomorrow.