Iron River + Bastions

Park Belle Vue, the final piece of the Masterplan Leuven

The surroundings of the railway station in the city of Leuven, in Belgium, have undergone a true metamorphosis in the past years. The master plan, drawn up in 1998, has been completely developed, except for the final piece. For the last phase, Park Belle Vue, the Flemish government architect launched a competition. H+N+S won the competition in 2008 with the ‘Park on the iron river’ design.

The new park differs from other parks in Leuven because of its unique location near the station, between Leuven city centre and Kessel-Lo. The railway tracks are considered as the ‘Iron river’ and are used as a quality element to develop a special park design. A major task is relocating the Martelarenlaan near the tracks, which will be partly deepened during construction. In the first place the park is a relaxing green area at the edge of Kessel-Lo.

The design forms a strong green basis for future development

The design is powerful and flexible enough to cope with future changes in the programme. Green design tools, such as a modulated ground level and plants (garden strip), are the most important elements in this regard. These tools are deployed to fully benefit from the specific dimensions: 750 meters long, but only 50 meters wide.

In addition to the green accents on both ends, the park also includes two solid stone accents: the bastions. These are located at intersections of different routes in the area and are interesting meeting points.

Bicycle connection

The construction of Park Belle Vue, at the back of the station in Leuven, forms the final piece of the station’s developments. The winning design for the park has been elaborated with the construction of a regional bicycle route. The construction of the park, the modified traffic circulation in the adjacent neigbourhoods and the connection to the Tiensesteenweg offer a unique opportunity to construct this route simultaneously.

The proposed bicycle route is a missing link in the current bicycle network and provides an opportunity to link important green areas in the vicinity of Leuven. Park Belle Vue and the extensive bicycle route up to the Abbey, forms a valuable recreational and functional addition to the infrastructure of the city and surrounding area.

The route has been designed as a ‘park road’ through the future park and crosses the busy Tiensesteenweg in a tunnel. The bicycle route continues hereafter and cuts the railway embankment. The bicycle route connects and activates two other underused tracks. The route in the railway embankment has been designed in such a way that it respects the privacy of adjacent houses. As a result of changing altitudes and planting, an interesting experience is created on the tracks and in the surrounding area.


Former employee Claire Laeremans.