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Korenmarkt · Mechelen, Belgium

Rediscovering Mechelen's oldest square

 
 

Located in the heart of Mechelen, Korenmarkt is considered the city’s origin. However, the value of Korenmarkt to the city had been lost over time. We took up the challenge to transform what had been relegated to a widening road with some parking into a valuable square with a comforting ¬†quality and an appreciation for history.

 
Location
Mechelen, Belgium
 
Status
Constructed
 
Year
2010
 
Project area
3,300 „é°
 
Client
City of Mechelen
 
Collaboration
Atelier Ruimtelijk Advies
 
Photography credits
Thomas Wolfs
 

An unassuming starting point

Despite its important historical value, the Korenmarkt had become worn down over time into a place with no clear identity of its own. It was completely paved and considered more of a spacious intersection and widening road. The space was mainly used for parking and terraces. While there were a few lone small trees, the car was clearly dominant, emphasised by a wide patch of asphalt along its length. Lost in the middle of the square was a small kiosk building with a typical historic ‘Frietkot’ chip stall, this formed the social heart of the square.

 

Creator of meaningful places

Room for interpretation

The lack of a true square experience was partly due to the basic shape. In fact, the Korenmarkt is actually a street that fans out like a funnel. The design of the public space was very linear, undermining any possibilities of creating a resting point and square experience. In our redesign, we made deliberate choices to increase the feeling of the space and create a real place to stay.

Korenmarkt is located at one of the highest points of the city with a slope towards the Dijle. We made the longitudinal difference in height visible by creating a stepped square. This generated a new spatial orientation and lines that revealed the quality of the Korenmarkt as an open space.

 

 

Creator of meaningful places
 
 

A series of carefully positioned green areas with benches not only provide the necessary softening and greening; they also give structure to the space. Hence, on a relatively compact surface, terraces, through roads and a versatile accommodating square can seamlessly coexist.

The materialisation of the square is in line with the historic identity. A diverse selection of natural stone, in different types and formats, complements the artisanal facades around the square. The various textures and paving patterns ensure that the difference between car street, pedestrian street and residential square is clear, while still providing one unified space. The square itself has been given the smallest stone, unique to the Korenmarkt itself, reinforcing its own identity.

 
 

Our long-term collaboration with Mechelen

Learn more
 
 
 
 

Surprising details

The green kiosk building containing the chip shop has been brought back and repositioned to better interact with the square. Its role as the cultural and social hub has thus been further enhanced. On the square itself, an interactive art intervention was realised using Buttons with text and logos of local business and residences that were then integrated into the paving.

 

 

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