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Masterplan for the Floraliënhal

One of the sub-studies of the Master Plan for the cluster of buildings in Citadel Park.

Master plan for the cluster of buildings in Citadel Park

In the middle of Ghent’s largest city park, Citadelpark, lies a large-scale, impenetrable cluster of buildings. This cluster was built on the occasion of the 1913 World Fair as a gigantic Century Palace on a site where an old fortress used to stand. A century later, the site is changed beyond recognition; the conservatory was converted into the velodrome ‘t Kuipke, the original entrance to the Centenary Palace was demolished and replaced by the modernist conference centre ICC Ghent, and at the eastern end, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Arts (S.M.A.K) emerged in the late 1990s. The three buildings were functionally and spatially completely separated from each other, and the imposing but empty Floraliënhal (Floralies’ Hall) at its heart, functioned as an invisible buffer and dividing space and fell into disrepair.
The new master plan aims to redefine the urban role and spatial integration of this cluster of buildings in the surrounding park landscape and focuses on the reconversion and restoration of the ICC, the Floraliënhal and the SMAK. It aims to create an exploratory neighborhood and urban dynamic where city, culture, nature and meeting are symbiotic in an open and surprising way.

The Floraliënhal

At the core of the cluster of buildings lies the imposing Floraliënhal, today empty, as a huge covered place in the middle of the park, with a surface just slightly smaller than Ghent’s Sint-Pietersplein. We examine its potential and what it could mean for the park and for the adjacent buildings het Kuipke, SMAK and ICC, each with its program.

The proposal is based on the future image of the City of Ghent for the park, in which the current footprint is significantly reduced in favor of more surface area for the park. We affirm that the park is a garden for the neighborhood as well as a park for the city, by making the Floraliënhal a covered, appropriable urban space that becomes an important stepping stone between station, city and university where ‘meeting in heritage’ becomes a natural part of an urban experience. The Floraliënhal can be programmed but also a very calm everyday use, e.g. by cycling through it in the morning, is in itself very valuable. It is precisely because of the enormous scale of the hall that intimate places can be created and these everyday functions can take place in it. As a result, the Floraliënhal will slowly become part of the collective memory of the people of Ghent again.

By making the hall diagonally fordable and organizing the entrances to ICC, Smak and the Kuipke from the hall, it will also be used intensively again by museum lovers, conference visitors, leisure tourists, etc. We capture some of the urban dynamics and relieve the park, allowing it to be more of a park. The plan also implies that in time the Azalea Hall, the Red Gate, and all the buildings in the axils of the cross figure will be demolished, increasing the contact surface of the Floraliënhal and the park. The park will then flow naturally into the hall where it is now in some places as a ring around the buildings.

In the same master plan, we examine the role of the Kuipke, which today does not interact with its surroundings at all. Providing a program in the plinth with small organizations such as community sports and smaller sports clubs creates an active facade in the park where clubs with sports and games can also take on a role in the park itself. The cycling track in turn can form an extension of the public space of the Floraliënhal by providing more mobile sports infrastructure such as skating.

  • client NV Citadel Finance
  • location Ghent
  • date 2018 - present
  • status building permit/execution design
  • icw 51N4E, 51N4E eco inc., Plant en Houtgoed (landscape)
  • engineering office Bollinger+Grohmann (stability), Ingenium (techniques), eld (estimation)