SILT Middelkerke

designed by /

Location: Belgium / Type: Bridges and Piers / Resorts / Roofs / Squares and Plazas / Waterfronts / Built: 2024 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on April 22, 2024

Both captivating and sincere, the event venue SILT is an asset to the Flemish coast in many ways. With great love for the sea and dunes, the new landmark combines coastal reinforcement, landscape, livability, and sustainability.

SILT: a new beacon by the sea

The designers have anchored the building to the site by integrating it into a new experiential landscape inspired by the former island of Testerep, characterized by dunes (coastal defence) and tidal channels (prosperity). The fusion of the building into the landscape ensures that coastal reinforcement, livability, and sustainability harmonize with the existing coastline. In the heart of the landscape, the hotel tower manifests itself as a new beacon by the sea. SILT also houses a casino, a restaurant, a multifunctional event space, and an underground parking garage.

Steven Delva, founder and partner at DELVA:

“Skyscrapers define the skyline of a modern city. For SILT, the design team sought a ‘landscraper’: a new, unique horizontal dune landscape with a program inside. We use this typical landscape as a means to integrate all the challenges in a seemingly natural way. It results in a new experiential dune landscape. A landscape where residents and visitors can once again enjoy the view, the sea, the skies, and the dunes.”

An underground parking garage creates a car-free zone, allowing the public space above it to flourish. Marram grass, dune bowls, and sand channels that lead to the beach give Middelkerke back its characteristic landscape. The climb to the top of the new dune offers breathtaking views and is itself a tourist attraction.

Securely anchored in place

The design team implemented a high-quality integral concept to firmly embed the project within the site’s spatial, social, and economic characteristics. Rather than a standalone and inward-facing structure, it is a building seamlessly integrated into the landscape, establishing a sustainable connection with its surroundings in all aspects.

Reinald Top, partner and architect at ZJA, says:

“The design rewrites the historical relationship between the seaside resort and the sea, and with its modest hotel tower, it adds a lot of new public space to the location while having a relatively small footprint. At the same time, the hotel tower is an eye-catching building, with its striking shape and external wooden structure. SILT is unassuming while having maximum impact and is visible from along the entire historical coastline of the former island of Testerep, from Ostend to Westende. The catalyst for a new vibrant centre of Middelkerke.”

The hotel, connected to the event venue, adorns the coastline with its mysterious, sculptural silhouette. An understated, striking building with an open lattice of curved beams made of Accoya wood. This not only enhances the connection with the surroundings but also represents sustainability. Because just like safety, functionality, aesthetics, and economic value, sustainability is central to the design. The aim was to achieve optimal energy supply, waste management, and production processes.

Protected against severe storm surges

SILT received a new seawall capable of withstanding a 1000-year storm. The seawall will withstand extreme storm weather with exceptionally high waves and water levels more than two meters above the current high tide level, making SILT the best-protected place along the Belgian coast.

Exceeding local ambitions

SILT radiates strength, sobriety, and refinement, with a great love for the sea and dunes. It is a project that well reflects the character of the seaside resort. It could mark the start of a renewed centre of Middelkerke, where it is pleasant to live and stay.

Jean-Marie Dedecker, mayor of Middelkerke, is particularly proud of the new landmark in his municipality:

“You immediately feel that SILT exceeds local ambitions. Whether it’s innovative and aesthetic coastal defence or the development of a fantastic tourist attraction, it will undoubtedly be an irresistible crowd magnet. Not to mention the beautiful architecture that we are giving to our straightened coastline.”

Exceptionally fast construction time

The project was constructed at an exceptionally rapid pace. In February 2022, the construction team began excavating the immense construction pit. Just two years later, the building was completed, a testament to the close collaboration and dedication of all involved parties.

Guy De Meyer (project manager of delegated construction manager Debuild): “From the first spade in the ground, everyone was on the same page. This has proven of immense value several times over. During the building process, the proprietors added several new elements to the programme. Because of our open and structured communication, we quickly came to a unanimous decision, and we succeeded in delivering the project on time, even with those new elements. That is an achievement of which we are justly proud. We have executed a unique building project on the Belgian coast, thanks to the expertise, dedication and tenacity of the combination of TM Furnibo-Democo, all its building partners and the entire site team.”

In 2022, SILT Middelkerke received the prestigious International Architecture Award 2022. In 2023, SILT once again received recognition and won a World Landscape Award of Honour in the category ‘Concept—Large Design.’

Project Data

Landscape Architecture: DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism.

Architects: ZJA Architects, OZ, Bureau Bouwtechniek

Location: Middelkerke, Belgium

Project completion: 2024

Photography: Sebastian van Damme

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