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Architecture Workroom
Brussels

IABR–Atelier East Flemish Regio— Has left the starting blocks

In 2050, the Ghent region will have 100,000 more inhabitants than it does today. How could we seize this demographic growth as an opportunity for creating a sustainable, climate-proof and healthy living environment? The IABR–Atelier East Flemish Regio (OVK) was launched at the beginning of this year with this ambitious question in mind. The Atelier is a collaboration between the Province of East Flanders and the IABR. The IABR–Atelier OVK looks far ahead into the future, to examine how we could take action today. The future scenarios will be displayed at the IABR in Rotterdam as of 31 May.

(c) Silke Lemant

The East Flemish Regio is a network of cities and municipalities around Ghent. It is expected that the population in this area will grow by between 15 and 25 percent by 2050. This means an additional 100,000 to 160,000 people, which is the equivalent of a medium-sized city such as Bruges or Alkmaar. Thousands of additional homes, workplaces and amenities will be required to cope with this growth, which places considerable pressure on the already densely built-up space. Nevertheless, we could seize this demographic growth as an opportunity to prepare the region for radical transitions related to climate, energy, water, healthcare, food and mobility.

The Province of East Flanders and the IABR are researching and testing how we could create a sustainable, climate-proof and healthy living environment in the region around Ghent by 2050. Studio 018 and the EPFL’s Laboratory of Urbanism in Lausanne led by Paola Viganò, and in association with Michiel Dehaene (Ghent University), are elaborating this 'dot on the horizon' using future scenarios. How could the area look in 2050 if the car was no longer a dominant mode of transport, or if we switched entirely to renewable energy?

Even more important than visualising the future, is the question of how we can actually make these visions a reality. On 20 February, IABR–Atelier OVK organised the first urban meeting in association with Veneco. In the discussion with local officials, administrations and actors the Atelier identified regional needs and examined the work models and tools required in order to move on to implementation.

In a subsequent phase IABR–Atelier OVK will test opportunities and challenges on the ground using design research in three demonstration projects. They could serve as a model for similar projects in the region and as a lever for accelerating the desired developments. To this end IABR–Atelier OVK went in search of initiatives, partnerships, ideas and ongoing projects that could jointly shape the region's future. The demonstration projects that are selected will be announced at the beginning of April.

Recently the IABR–Atelier OVK acquired its own premises for work and exchanges in the centre of Ghent, in the Provincial Archives, 2nd floor, Pelikaanstraat 38, 9000 Ghent.

If you have any questions feel free to drop in, or send an e-mail to atelierovk@iabr.nl.

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With structural support from the Flemish government and regular support from the Brussels capital region and other regional and local governments.