Identity of the Historic City
Due to the increase in the use of the car within many medieval towns causes many problems with public space. Increased infrastructure has reduced the character of the historic streets and claimed space, including many historic squares that are more often than not being used as a car park. Mechelen is an example of this issue. It has a historic city centre that is confronted with the lack of space, due to infrastructure, and therefore the disappearance the city’s identity. The historic canals were capped over in early 20th century for sanitary reasons resulting in the human scale of the streets and squares becoming out of proportion with the adjacent buildings.
Boost for the City
OKRA has played an important role in bringing back the balance within the city centre, by introducing the City Master Plan. Transforming Mechelen from an unattractive town into “the place to be”. The City Master Plan is built up of a series of individual projects, such as Melaan, de Sint Katelijnestraat (radial street), De Hoogstraat-Korenmarkt (Square), de Lange Schipstraat (Residential Street), de Zelestraat (Street and Canal), Sint Libertus, Donkerlei, de Rik Wouterstuin (Pocket park) and the Vlietenmuseum (Exhibition space). Through the realisation of these projects the former canals are once again referenced and recognisable in the city’s structure. Together, through these projects, the character of the public space and charm of the city centre of Mechelen is visible once more.
Green and Blue City
By defining the public space typologies a clear distinction has been made, bringing hierarchy back into the historic centre. All these measures contribute to the transformation of a city from a city with an undefined public domain to a green and blue city of the future, a city with many identities, meeting spaces and quality of life.