Mechelen Belgium

Mechelen Canals

The Zelestraat is located in the district north of the Dyle River. In the past tidal water ran freely here and there were many canals, vlieten. In the early 20th century the canals were all capped over for sanitary reasons. In doing so this changed the character of the Zelestraat, leaving no traces of the water as explanation for the consequential wide street profile. A poor streetscape emerged as the Zelestraat became dominated by cars, contributing to a poor spatial quality.

Light and Space

By reopening the historic canal, OKRA knew it would visually widen the Zelestraat, the water reflecting sunlight and bringing light and space into the street. The resulting space invites you to linger by the canal and look across the water. Playful angles depict the unpredictable nature of the canals. The detailing of the capping stone along the waters edge and handrails ensure consistency with materials found in the centre of Mechelen. In the lane next to the Gulden Ram, a valuable historical building, a water feature is placed referring to the canal that flows below.

Defining the Urban Fabric

The historical course of the canal now sets the atmosphere in the street. The Zelestraat and the lane next to the Gulden Ram once again belong as part of the historic, urban fabric of the city.