Mechelen is a city with many hidden qualities, the canals, vlieten, being reintroduced in the streets are one example. One of these canals runs under part of the IJzerenleen, the museum axis of Mechelen. This particular canal was formerly a harbour, later being over-capped, used as sewer, and later during WWII used as an air raid shelter. The city of Mechelen has seen the opportunity to give this unique space back to the people of the city and transform into an exhibition space.
In the design of OKRA and awg architects, the starting point for the exhibition space is taken from the history of the IJzerenleen. The history of Mechelen’s canals and use as an air raid shelter are reflected in the refurbishment into an exhibition space. Two large cellar doors that illuminate the street in the evening connect the worlds above and below ground.
By creating the entrance to the exhibition space with cellar doors, the intervention remains subtle and mysterious about the exhibition cellar under the street. The Vlietenkelder is a place for the local creative sector to exhibit their works and for tourists to learn more about the rich history of Mechelen.