OO Kortrijk – Van Marcke site

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  • Location: Kortrijk, Belgium
  • Program: Mixed-use
  • Area: 155.000 m²
  • Year: 2019
  • Status: In progress

The design team OMGEVING – UAUcollectiv wins Open Call Van Marcke site: the complete study assignment for the preparation of a master plan and any implementation assignments for the Weggevoerdenlaan site in Kortrijk. The design proposal is not a traditional master plan but an experimental, generation-proof development strategy. The qualities present, the character of the existing structures as well as the specific topography create the perfect conditions to start from the existing situation and to focus on sustainable principles of circularity, reuse, and identity.

“Space identity” is the core theme that can best define the competition proposal in a concise way. Nothing is as easy as approaching and tackling the site from an optimal functional layout and architecture, but inspiration, character, and identity are very difficult to create in an artificial way.

An innovative approach should lead to a continuously learning city district

In a classic development approach, the framework is usually established within a very short term within which commitments and collaborations are entered into. As a result, all opportunities are quickly filled in and it is difficult to adjust them throughout the entire process in function of social trends, needs, and evolutions. After all, the ownership becomes filled in and fragmented in the short term. This problem is known in the fragmented, parceled out, and urbanized Flemish landscape. Van Marcke, the Kortrijk city council, and the design team, therefore, want to approach the Van Marcke site differently. According to the design team, a strategic site like this must evolve with the social transition and be able to respond appropriately to new opportunities, opportunities, and insights. After all, a social transition is not a one-off affair, but a continuous improvement process.

a strategic site like this must evolve with the social transition and be able to respond appropriately to new opportunities, opportunities and insights.

The unique position of one landowner offers the possibility to (continue to) approach the project area as a whole, albeit with many stakeholders and users. A cooperative steers development and is both an operational steering post, an investment fund, and a management group. To realize this incremental transition, a curator is appointed who monitors and directs the unity and quality of the development.

A clear spatial framework as an organizer

In order to maximize flexibility and legal certainty in the future, a clear and simple spatial framework has been developed that forms the guideline for all future developments within the Van Marcke site. The spatial framework is shaped by the concept of urban rooms and public joints. The urban chambers are the development fields. These development fields transform over time through changing use and evolving buildings. The public joints form the public space between the various urban rooms. These joints connect the various urban rooms to each other and anchor the Van Marcke site with the urban fabric of Kortrijk.

The composition and architectural character of the existing buildings is the starting point for the interpretation of the urban rooms. Each building has its own identity of location, orientation, appearance, and structure, which makes it possible to accommodate a new function of a temporary or permanent nature. In order to streamline this process somewhat over time, each building is given a passport, so that it is possible to make comparisons and see which interpretation best suits which type of building. In addition, the building passports indicate which elements of a building are valuable and must be preserved. After a first clean-up of the site, a beautiful, valuable hull is created that can immediately serve for temporary use such as laser shooting, exhibition space, showroom, etc., or forms the basis for a definitive use such as housing, SME, school, market hall, etc.

Within the public joints, the existing paving will be retained but will be broken open and upgraded in various ways. A strong greening of the industrial Van Marcke site transforms the place into a pleasant mixed environment with clear added value for Kortrijk. Three simple principles are used for the design of public space: intervening punctually, piercing, and opening. All flows are collected within the joints. The development is car-free due to the provision of mobility hubs on the edge of the site. A collective logistics system provides the necessary transport on the site, waste flows are also designed at the site level.

An ideal cross-section of the district comprises, on the one hand, the elementary basic needs such as housing, shops, schools, culture, and relaxation, on the other hand, employment in SMEs and services such as office activities are a supplement that leads to a good balance between living and working. In this way, the Van Marcke site will become a lively city district in the future where collectivity is central.