OKRA has won the competition to design a new city park in Brussels

In cooperation with BRUT, OKRA landscape architects is the winner of the design competition for the new Small Zenne Park in the Heyvaert district in the Brussels Capital Region. The Small Zenne Park will bring new nature and outdoor space to a highly urbanised industrial area, where there is little access to nature and open spaces.

For the past forty years, the Heyvaert neighbourhood in Brussels is known for its intercontinental trade in second-hand cars. Most of the grounds have become heavily polluted as a result. Residents experience the large-scale car trade in the district as suffocating. The district urgently needs to be redesigned to improve accessibility and quality of living. The Brussels Region’s urban renewal project will gradually dismantle the car trade and allow for a new future for a liveable multicultural neighbourhood.

The showpiece of the project is the construction of the Small Zenne Park. It will become a green promenade about one kilometre long that follows the former bed of the river Small Zenne. The area is now mainly used as a storage area for the car trade. The new city park in the Heyvaert district will be constructed in phases depending on land acquisition’s possibilities and at locations where car dealerships make way for urban development.

Biophilic design
The river Small Zenne is the inspiration for the design of the Small Zenne Park. The river has always been a lifeline for the city. In OKRA’s design proposal, the Small Zenne Park will again become a lifeline for cultural and natural developments for the Heyvaert district and beyond.

OKRA chooses a biophilic design approach that aims to reconnect people with nature by stimulating different levels of nature experience in the urban environment, using the former bed of the river as a metaphor for the new city park. This approach forms the basis for the design in many ways, from nature-based solutions such as phytoremediation and sustainable drainage systems to a design language that encourages a greater appreciation of nature.

Unique opportunity
‘It is a unique opportunity to work in such an important place on a project where so many facets of our profession come together,’ says OKRA project manager Pierre-Alexandre Marchevet. ‘With this assignment, we can really make a difference for the Heyvaert district and all its residents.

OKRA has been working for many years on urban development and landscape assignments in various locations in Belgium, including Antwerp, Brussels, Kortrijk, Mechelen and Leuven.