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Architecture Workroom
Brussels

Strategic vision— Kern Rechteroever in Aalst

In 2012, Aalst town council’s Departments of Strategic Planning and Spatial Planning together requested a grant for an urban renewal concept for an upgrade of the ‘Kern Rechteroever’ (KRO) district. The aim is, by means of the participatory formulation of a long-term plan and a locally-oriented approach to the project, to arrive at a more integrated, complete and sustainable outlook for the wider surroundings of Moorselbaan and the carnival halls. In a team with the architects of 51N4E and with the aid of expertise from Antwerp University and Technum, Architecture Workroom has drawn up a concept for the future of the neighbourhood.

At present, the ‘Kern Rechteroever’ has to contend with social and economic deprivation and is often subject to negative perceptions. On the one hand this is the result of historical developments, but on the other it is also due to a changing urban landscape. Aalst is increasingly exposed to a metropolitan dynamic whereby the affordable but low-quality housing stock in the vicinity of the station has become a magnet for new, less well-off residents. These migrants bring with them their own fragile economy and trade, which finds a home amidst the existing retail businesses in the area around Varkensmarkt.

For this reason many local departments and socio-cultural groups have in the past already focused their wishes and resources on this neighbourhood, but this was not done in a very structured, project-based manner. Since traditional urban renewal strategies (public-private partnerships) are not necessarily able to function in the same way here as in the large cities, there is a need for a more appropriate concept and urban project.

To stimulate and launch the redevelopment of the KRO, it is essential to make a first move. The design team proposes to unite the many and varied users of the space and its challenges in both a spatial and socio-economic sense by means of a ‘Common Ground’ that will serve as a backbone for the district. This vigorous and uniform public space adjoins a number of strategic development locations that act as an engine for renewal in the neighbourhood. The main points of focus in the vicinity of the Common Ground are a sense of initiative, a stronger retail trade, cultural and popular activities, facility programmes and a more robust residential environment.

It is only if we reinforce and renew these various aspects, and only if we succeed in linking them together to form a single multifunctional urban fabric, that the urban project for the Kern Rechter Oever will be able to offer a decisive and positive answer to the various needs and dynamics.

Tags

Flanders, atelier, ongoing, partnership, think tank

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