OMGEVING: The redevelopment of the Hendrik Speecqvest is the first realization of the Vestenpark, based on the concept that OMGEVING and Mint drew up for AWV (Road and Traffic Agency) in 2012. The new park counts as a preview of what the Vests can mean for the future of the city of Mechelen. Half of the park is situated on the roof of an underground car park, the ingenious roof structure and thoughtful planting ensure unity with a clear coordination between the lower and upper structures.
The Tangent to the east of the city will largely take over the transit function for motorized traffic, freeing up a considerable amount of space on the Mechelse Vesten. Responding to this opportunity, the Vests have been divided into two parts. A northern part that will have an urban boulevard profile and a southern part that, thanks to its considerable width, can transition into a Vestenpark. A continuous park structure with more space for cyclists and public transport will become the new identity for one of the most characteristic spaces of the city. This intervention restores the balance between circulation and accommodation. The new, robust green structure softens the urban heating effect and is thus used to make Mechelen more climate adaptive.
The reconstruction of Hendrik Speecqvest has been accelerated by the realisation of an underground car park “Mechelen Bruul” on this part of the Vesten. In this underground car park there is room for 352 cars. Approximately half of the Vestenpark of the first phase is partially realized above this underground construction. The ramps and rises are fully integrated in the central park. The ingenious construction of the parking basement also made it possible to plant large trees on the roof, making the substructure unreadable in the park with its lush greenery.
Despite the fact that the timing of the Tangent and the underground car park could not be coordinated, it was decided to already realize the final design. Before the completion of the Tangent the car capacity remains on 2x 2 lanes. At the inauguration of the Tangent, expected in 2022, the right hand lanes will be converted to bus lanes and the car capacity will be reduced to a 2×1 profile.
Thanks to the Vestenpark, Hendrik Speecqvest can once again match the situation of the 19th century, just after the damming up of the city canal. Today’s Vesten is a prominent barrier for vulnerable road users. New transverse structures, linked to a linear path structure for cyclists and pedestrians, ensure fluid connections between the various functions and pleasant walking routes from, to and on the Vesten. The design with sitting walls and planting areas accentuates logical walking routes and guides the users, creating safe and legible intersections.
Centrally located on Hendrik Speecqvest, a boules court and a number of picnic benches provide tranquillity and relaxation. The side adjacent to Raghenoplein will eventually be upgraded with a playground, making the Vestenpark more than a pleasant passage but also an effective destination with a residential character. This fits in with the vision to create places to stay with meaning, divided over the entire Vests, so that the Vests can take on an important urban role.
The plant borders consist of a playful combination of perennials and shrubs. In spring, the borders are enriched with different types of bulbs. The solitary and multi-trunked trees provide a rich variation that matches the existing collection of trees on the Vesten.
Landscape Architecture: OMGEVING
Role of the Office in the Project: design, technical detailing, site supervision
Partnership: D+A Consult
Location: Mechelen, Belgium
Construction period: 2015-2019
Client: city of Mechelen
Surface area: 1.67 ha
Budget: € 2,580,000 excl vat