West 8 in collaboration with Snoeck en Partners, Bas Dirk Jaspaert, ERM and Tritel, has won the competition organized by the City of Leuven, for the revitalization of the former industrial site Vaartkom in Leuven, Belgium.
Here’s a description of the project from West 8:
The Vaartkom is a unique location close to the water’s edge and within walking distance from the historical city center. Already this district offers an exceptional urban landscape, with its remnants of a rich industrial past. Inspired by these industrial artifacts, West 8 proposes a vibrant new urban center where living, working and production function in a healthy balance.
The area of the Vaartkom is characterized by a fascinating variety of features and scale. The original port operations are almost completely gone, what remains are the remnants of a rich industrial past. An attractive district will emerge where living, working and production function in a healthy balance.
This shift to a more human use also requires an adjustment to the design of public space. The accessibility of many homes and commercial spaces should be ensured, so the area will be better connected to the surrounding technical structures. The public space around the Vaartkom transforms from an industrial to an esplanade wharf, a lounge with numerous terraces.The hardness of a port makes room for warmth, for green, for a human habitat.
The Engelsplein is an important part in this transformation. The square plays a qualitative role as transit space. The presence of the viaduct, the bus platforms and the entrance ways to the public parking define the public space. A maximum green character is created by gathering the necessary ‘hard’ surfaces under the viaduct. It is people and green who get all daylight.