De Melaan

Mechelen Belgium

Connected by Canals

As the water network of the Dyle is through the entire historic city, Mechelen and water are inseparable. The narrow canals, vlieten, which traditionally streets and houses were built along, are old branches and tributaries that have been narrowed by silt built up. Due to sanitary reasons and odour, the canalswere capped over in the early 20th century and as a consequence the streets were no longer in proportion. It is not clear why the profile is as wide or why for a large part the buildings have their back to the street, as there is no longer evidence of the historic waterways.

Size and Scale

For the Melaan, OKRA brought the relationship between size and scale back by reintroducing the water. The asymmetric location of the original canal creates a special space distribution. Through the change in level, a distinction is made between the roads; pedestrian place to stay and the water is created.

Newly renovated Melaan

The flow of the historical water now defines the identity of the Melaan. There is space to stay and the old quay walls have been reused as the edge of the canal. The renovated Melaan has a clear layout that invites users to stay and relax.