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De Vrijheid

An urban development study to return De Vrijheid, the historical heart of the town, to its lively, central role in Ronse. Our ambition is to provide a clear identity for this part of town and to cleverly renovate the public space.

Context. De Vrijheid existed for more than 800 years (from approx. 940 to 1800). It was then forgotten (from approx. 1800 to 2000).  Nonetheless, it played an important role in the town’s creation and history, together with De Heerlijkheid. In order to make it easier to understand and visualize this role, De Vrijheid and De Heerlijkheid need to be recognized as a whole once again.

Urban development study.  The study wants to make the different time periods easier to read, to visualize, thus making it easier to understand the location’s rich history. Therefore we have opted to maintain various remaining elements of each time period (factory workers’ houses, Art Deco houses, …) and to reconnect these historical witnesses.

The renovation of the public space is our most important tool to bring the new identity of De Vrijheid to life. We did not opt for strictly historical construction, but rather for an approach that tries to redevelop De Vrijheid in such a way that children, pedestrians and bikers get ‘the freedom’ to do as they please. There needs to be room for spontaneity: informal play areas with water, stairs, trees and walls, neutral spaces for meeting one another and for events.

The renewed atmosphere of De Vrijheid will determine its future functioning to a large extent: it will be a place to find peace, a part of a soft main structure with maximal infiltration of water and nature in the city centre.

Mobility. Renovating public spaces is part of the larger mobility policy. Today, cars are king on this location: they either drive or they are parked here. This has developed naturally, but the new design supports a turnaround in this situation where public spaces are returned to the people.

Integration. The study tries to take into account as much as possible the development plan for the museum and tourist quarter (MOP, WES, Sien) that has been drawn up simultaneously. Focus of this plan is the development of the town museum in the Hoge Mote.

Year

urban development study: 2011-2013 / Spatial execution plan: 2014

Location

Historic center of Ronse

Client

Municipality Ronse

Scope

5 ha

Design team

Stramien cvba, Vectris