The revitalization of the environs of the river Leie where it passes through Kortrijk has attracted attention to sites such as the one in Blekerij, where former factories and warehouses, often underused or in need of major reinvestment, have become potential land for urban development. The site is further located beside the city’s inner beltway, giving it prime accessibility from the urban fringe, and on the planned green belt, which calls for particular care when planning its transformation.
The project envisages the construction of a total of 30,000 m²: 6,000 m² for commercial premises, 3,000 m2 for offices and 21,000 m² for a residential programme, the latter with a mix of typologies ranging from two-storey dwellings to apartments and providing the legally required percentage of social housing units.
The development also has to fit into the built river frontage of the central stretch of the city and create a generous connection with the tracts of land on the other side of Meensesteenweg, prefiguring a new green axis in the western sector of Kortrijk. Along the river embankment, the site has interesting landscape values that are worth preserving.
The commercial area borders the beltway, set on a platform containing the car park and forming a geometrical item on which the offices stand. This layout creates easy access from the city periphery to these public facilities, giving them a high profile and, at the same time, establishing a relation of scale in keeping with the setting. The apartment tower block stands on the southern edge of the complex, overlooking the river.
The residential sector is inserted into the interior of the site, protected from the noise and the sight of the beltway by shops and offices. The south-facing dwellings are arranged in rows, rising in height as they move away from the river, to produce an apartment complex along Meensesteenweg.
The two parts of the development share a modulated layout, connecting a series of open spaces that create a hierarchy of relations. Between the comercial and the residential sectors, the open space is enhanced with values of public space, in the form of a large terrace overlooking the river and facing the sun. Inside the residential area, the open spaces are given the specific values of collective space to host relations at the scale of the community that shares them.