• Customer
  • City of Ghent (B)
  • Location
  • Ghent
  • Scale
  • S
  • Period
  • 2011-2015
  • Partners
  • ARA
  • Artgineering
  • Buiting Advies
  • KPW architects

H+N+S has created a a comprehensive long term plan and a detailed Design Manual for the renewal and revitalisation of the historic Citadel Park in Ghent.

Motive

The Citadel Park (25 ha.) is the largest urban park in the city of Ghent and has a high botanical value. The park, constructed in the 19th century, is an important piece of cultural heritage and romantic architectural design. It is also the site for the Contemporary Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, the ICC Congress Centre and the Velodrome. Thus, the park also fulfils a practical function, in addition to its cultural, ecological and recreational value.

Rundown and unsafe

However, the Citadel Park has become a rundown and unsafe place and no longer meets the requirements of today’s visitors (residents, tourists, museum visitors, students). Over the years, the park has degenerated into a site of frequent vandalism and sexual assault incidences. The park has also been overdeveloped, throwing the balance between park and buildings out of kilter. Overall, the Citadel Park is in urgent need of renovation, refreshment and revitalisation. 

The design ensures that the historical value of Citadel Park is conserved and revitalised while, at the same time, prepares the Park for use in the 21st century

The Citadel Park is multifunctional, attracts diverse audiences, and possesses unique historical and ecological value. This requires a balanced design that integrates and maximises a variety of different interests. Our design acknowledges and preserves the rich history of the site, while also providing space for contemporary usage. Due to the limited scope of the ‘Green City Renewal’ project, the development of a blueprint design plan was not required. Rather, H+N+S was tasked with the creation of two products: a visualisation of the potential transformation of the area; and a design manual containing guidelines for the renewal of the park. 

Approach

A team consisting of H+N+S / Artgineering / KPW Architects was selected from amongst five candidates, via an open call for applications. The plan has been designed in close consultation with the City of Ghent Municipality, cultural institutions located in the park, local residents and citizens of Ghent. 

An internal market, demonstrating one potential usage for the new building

Pilot project

After completion of the initial consultation phase, the team commenced work on the design manual containing specific, long-term development guidelines for the park. In 2015, some of the initial steps detailed in the manual were developed into a pilot project, to test their feasibility and durability. 

Impression of the entrance to the Stedelijk Museum of Contemporary Art (SMAK).
Application of design guidelines.
Current state of SMAK.
Impression of Citadel Park.
Application of design guidelines.
Current state of the Park.

Result

Brave choices

H+N+S created an imaginative map which visualises the future design of the park. The image serves as a comprehensive, initial impression and creates a ‘target’ or ‘vision’ to work towards. The intention is to gradually update and refine the visualisation in the future, as required. The plan is based on a number of ‘brave’ or difficult design choices, such as the inclusion of less space for cars and buildings in favour of ‘the green’. 

Future prospects for the Citadel Park.
Current state of the Park.

Plan layers

The map is designed in four, integrated and interactive ‘layers’. The ‘carpet layer’ contains contemporary structures that integrate and connect the buildings with their park context. Surrounding the buildings is a new ‘circuit walk’ through the park. The ‘Romantic layer’ restores some of the historical elements of the park such as forests and ponds, inspired by Van Hulle’s original design. The ‘park edge’ is designed to gradually and subtly recede, so that it smoothly transitions into the urban surroundings.

Design manual

In addition to the map visualisation, H+N+S also prepared a manual detailing the long-term vision and design guidelines for the park. In this document, the layers of the map (carpet, circuit walk, Romantic park, park border) and the corresponding themes (planting of new vegetation, water and irrigation equipment, infrastructure, park property) are addressed and formulated into guidelines for development. Using these guidelines, sub-projects and pilot programs can be initiated. Thus the gradual, yet consistent, revitalisation of the park is underway. 

Continuation

In 2014, the City of Ghent engaged H+N+S to further develop the manual and resources into a Master Plan. Currently, H+N+S is in the process of producing two documents: a Landscape Plan; and a final design for the realisation of the ‘Circuit Walk’ layer (which will take the form of a pilot project). We are working in conjunction with Buiting, Artgineering and ARA. Substantive design contribution were made by former employees Marieke Brouwer and Claire Laeremans.

Want to know more?

Hank van Tilborg Director, Landscape architect
Jutta Raith Architect

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