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Redevelopment of the Vaartkom in Leuven

The competition design is an ambitious proposal to turn the river Dijle into a natural public swimming location and to sustainably address the landscape design of the quay and the Victor Broosplein in Leuven. This deliberately takes us a step further than the request to design a public swimming pool as an independent element on the Vaartkom. Research has shown that it is realistic to swim in the Dijle. Today that is with the exception of overflow periods due to heavy rainfall, but in the future it should be possible most of the time. We see the project as an opportunity to put the water quality of the Dijle forward as an obvious urban project. This way, a conscious choice is made for the connection between the clean water of the Dijle and a sustainable and pleasant urban climate.

More green on the banks

Leuven is upgrading the Vaartkom, transforming it from a former industrial site into a unique place with room for living, working, culture, greenery and sports. The design focuses on substantially greening the Vaartkom banks so that the large-scale space around the water simultaneously becomes park and garden. As much as half a hectare of public space will become more green and softened. Long green climate borders emphasise the scale and sense of space in the Vaartkom. At the same time, they create an interesting microclimate and provide interesting seasonal experiences throughout the year. The aim is to develop a space that makes you aware of the biodiversity and the rich life in and around water.

A water square

The Victor Broos square will have a dynamic water character thanks to a mirror pond and fountains. It will be a real water square with stairs leading to the Vaart. At the same time, this will be the place for activities for the neighbourhood and the city of Leuven.

Water is at the heart of the Vaartkom and shapes urban life in various guises. We want to think critically about the fact that today the Vaartkom is largely privatised with the marina present, especially since the boats pollute the water locally. If they become less polluting, this boundary can be blurred by making the water accessible in different places. Swimming in the canal completes the story.

  • client City of Leuven
  • location Leuven
  • date 2020
  • status competition proposal
  • icw OMGEVING, François Antoine
  • engineering office Sweco, Sportoase, VUB, Navicula bvba
  • team NU Esmeralda Bierma, Diane Estruch