Denis Dujardin: The area of the Leie in Kortrijk’s town centre is the subject of major changes. The water course needed to be adapted to the new European norms for inland waterway traffic and the Leie has therefore been straightened and widened. For this, some of the public space was reallocated with the result of damaged fragments of land on both banks of the river. Kortrijk chose to turn this harsh and radical intervention into a positive and uniting element. The city seized the opportunity to reconstruct the public space, the bridges and wharves along with the infrastructure works.
Subsequently, in the overall master plan of the intercommunal Leiedal for the entire Leie system in Kortrijk, Sum was responsible for the concept and the coordination of the multifaceted and radical reorganisation of the central area between Albert Park and the Budastraat. Sum developed the planning vision and the master plan for the public space, the wharves and the bridges. In addition, Sum was also responsible for the design of the Dambrug and the Groeningbrug, the organisation of the Albert Park and the wharves and the concept of the new bicycle and pedestrian connection (Collegebrug).
In accordance to the city’s vision, Sum decided to conceive the Albert Park as a valley park across which the Leie flowed diagonally. Landscape architects joined the team for the concept. According to this concept, both banks were set up in the same elegant style and the new park was given a unique character based on the valley’s natural flowing relief. The various sections of the park were constructed as separate, defined spaces joined directly to the urban surroundings. Thus, on the right bank, the area between Groeningebrug and Dambrug was set up as space for youth with a skate and bicycle track. The peaceful arm of the Leie at the Buda island was set up as a grassy beach along the Leie. The landscaping of the ‘Buda beach’, on the eastbank, was designed by Denis Dujardin, Jordi Farrando & Maarten Gheysen.
The integration of a good central connection matrix for the various modes of transport also ensures the sustainability of the urban improvement project. For this reason, the adjustment of the infrastructure was also integrated into the overall working method. In doing so, the Dambrug and the Groeningebrug came into being during a first phase. In a later stage, the Collegebrug was built over the Leie for cyclists and pedestrians, as an important link in the network of local paths between the city centre, the Buda island and Overleie. The bridge was designed by Sum and the engineer Laurent Ney. The flowing nature of the bridge means cyclists do not need to overcome a steep climb. At the same time, the oscillation is integrated as a sculpture into the landscaping of both banks.
Since the reconstruction, residents of and visitors to Kortrijk have an opportunity to rediscover this area. Slowly but surely, a new balance is reasserting itself here between living and working, between culture and recreation, between travelling and residing. What began as a necessary infrastructure project has been used as an opportunity to considerably strengthen the identity, the image and the quality of life of the city.
Client: T.V. Leiedoortocht Kortrijk – AWZ
Location: Kortrijk, Belgium
Design: Denis Dujardin, Jordi Farrando & Maarten Gheysen, SumProject – Ney & Partners in collaboration with Dirk Vandekerkhove
Timing: 2002 – 2010
Budget: EUR 3 950 000