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  • Location: Aarschot, Belgium
  • Program: Residential, 310 units
  • Area: 72.700 m²
  • Year: 2019
  • Status: Study

The project in Aarschot embodies a vision where harmony between nature and urban development is central. Located on the edge of the city center, by the Demer valley, the Nonnenlanden site offers a unique opportunity to connect urban livability with the rich ecology of the area. This zone, characterized by its proximity to water bodies and sensitivity to flooding, provides a canvas for innovative urban planning that respects and integrates natural elements into the development.

The project aims to be more than a residential area; it aspires to be a living environment where the boundaries between private and public green spaces blur, allowing biodiversity to thrive. By embracing the existing poplars and surrounding natural landscapes, a green backbone is created that serves both aesthetic and ecological purposes. The planned buildings, ranging from low to higher layers, are carefully designed to complement the natural contours and existing green structures, creating a symbiotic relationship between the built environment and the landscape.

Central to the design is the creation of a public green space that acts as a gathering place for the community and a natural basin for water management. By enhancing the existing hydrology and integrating smart water management practices, such as the natural overflow of the Heilaak stream, the risk of flooding is reduced, and rainwater is utilized to nourish the landscape.

The nearby Bloemberg forest area plays a crucial role in enhancing the ecological value and quality of life within the Nonnenlanden project. This biologically valuable forest, connecting with other green areas like Meetshoven and the Achter Schoonhoven nature reserve, serves as an essential green lung for the area.

The integration of the project with the Bloemberg forest area is a deliberate choice to promote biodiversity and create ecological corridors. By preserving and enhancing these green connections, animals can move more freely, and plant species can spread, contributing to the ecological resilience of the region. It also offers educational and recreational opportunities for the community to discover and appreciate the natural richness of their surroundings.

The vision for the Nonnenlanden site focuses not only on creating living spaces but also on promoting a lifestyle that de-emphasizes car dependency. By emphasizing pedestrian and bicycle connections to the city center and integrating parking solutions smartly on the periphery or underground, a tranquil, green oasis is created, inviting relaxation and interaction away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With its 310 planned housing units, this project represents a progressive model for urban development, enhancing quality of life through the integration of natural elements and sustainable design. It’s a place where residents not only live but also become part of a living ecosystem that supports and expands the local fauna and flora, bringing Aarschot closer to a greener, more resilient future.