‘Ghent, Future-Proofing the city’
Ghent’s entry in the ‘Best Urban Regeneration’ category for the MIPIM Awards 2015 has been nominated. It is the regeneration of the historic city centre, the first phase of which was completed in 2014. Work is currently proceeding on the ‘Krook’ and ‘Bravoka’ subprojects'.
The investments in the old city centre have been driven by the rapid rise in numbers of (international) tourists and shoppers, who ask for a more varied range of shops, hotels and leisure options. Ghent already offers the largest pedestrianised shopping area in Belgium. Unoccupied areas, including historic buildings, are being reclassified for urban development purposes. The weaving together of previously isolated areas has set up a smooth flow of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Through traffic for cars is excluded, but access to public parking facilities for visitors to the city is being improved. To future-proof the city centre, it is crucial to strike a subtle balance between living, working and shopping/recreation, and the approach therefore makes provision for attractive residential properties and public green spaces, which should attract young families.
An historic city with a long-term future vision
Following the completion of the first phase, ‘Kobra’, work is now in full swing on the subprojects ‘Krook’ and ‘Bravoka’. ‘Kobra’ and ‘Bravoka’ link together the central city squares Vrijdagsmarkt, Korenmarkt and Kouter. They involve a sustainable mobility plan with more green space and views of the water for a balanced mix of residential property, retail (20,000 m²) and innovative workplaces. The work being done is consistent with the smart city philosophy, aimed at adding value for residents, merchants, visitors and professionals.
With ‘Krook’, Ghent plans to offer a suitable home to start-ups and companies in the creative and digital sector. This subproject is all about reviving a neglected and little-known part of central Ghent. It also includes the ‘Stadspaviljoen’, which will house the new main city library with its 250-seat auditorium, a 100-seat restaurant and the Centre for New Media, a development of the University of Ghent and the Institute for Broadband Technology (IBBT). The new building is appearing amid a medieval setting and will be an architectural landmark for the city. The open architecture will allow for plenty of public space.
Existing buildings will undergo an extensive renovation with a view to an energy-efficient, sustainable future. Green roofs and roof gardens will reflect the same priority.
New green space will be added alongside the existing quays, to prepare the city better for the predicted climate change. Moreover, culverted watercourses such as the Nederschelde will be uncovered again, creating attractive waterside spots for future developments.
Space for living, working and leisure
As well as boosting economic prosperity, the regeneration of the historic city centre will also create some 500 new direct jobs. A significant, unused space will be developed as a residential area with extensive greenery, to attract families and enable them to (re)discover the advantages of city life.
Ghent has a particularly large number of protected monuments, which have been integrated into this global project for the revival of the city centre.
Ghent’s historic centre, recently voted ‘the world’s most authentic destination’ by Lonely Planet, is preparing for the future!