The Oude Melaan

Mechelen Belgium

Connected by streams

The Mechelse vlieten (streams) are old river arms and tributaries of the Dijle River that have become narrower due to silting. Along the vlieten houses were built, and streets were laid. Because of the smell and hygiene, the vlieten were vaulted or filled in at the beginning of the last century. As a result, the streets’ dimensional ratio is often no longer present, and it is not clear why many buildings face the street.

Size and scale

By reconstructing the Oude Melaan and other canals, OKRA restored the cityscape proportions and scale. The asymmetrical location of the original vliet creates a special division of space. A height difference differentiates between the thoroughfare and the recreational zone along the water. Parts of the old quay walls have been reused, and there is room for a pleasant stay. The vliet has a green character, which benefits the city’s biodiversity. The vliet restores the historic character of the inner city, buffers rainwater, provides cooling in summer, and is a valuable addition to the inner city’s quality of life and experience.

Water Resilient Cities

The restoration of the Oude Melaan is part of the European Water Resilient Cities project. In 2019 OKRA won the Water Resilient Cities Award for the climate adaptive design of the city centre of Nijverdal.