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A village in the city

Geschreven op 20 April 2021

The demand for greener and healthier cities has been heard for some time now, and it has become increasingly loud because of the pandemic. High-quality outside space, the integration of greenery and sustainability are becoming more and more important to the development of ‘the city of the future’.

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The Mayor of Paris recently announced that she wanted to turn the famous Champs Elysées into a green cycling and walking boulevard. In Barcelona, they are busy shutting out cars from areas of the city to free up more space for local residents and soft traffic. Utrecht is working hard for vulnerable road users, too, and built at its central station the largest bicycle storage facility in the world. These are just some of the major cities taking the lead and setting a clear example to the rest of the world.

Marianne Lefever - architect and urbanist – went into more detail on these growing trends in inner-city development in an interview in the newspaper De Tijd (15 April 2021). The main central theme in what she said about the ‘healthy city of the future’ is the importance of proximity.

It is very important for people to be able to meet each other in a neighbourhood, and for there to be space for chance encounters. We have to bring back a bit of the village nostalgia which we have lost in cities.

CAAAP places much focus on proximity in every project, with a green environment and sustainability. Each project has its own focus to become a new, blossoming area.

A vibrant new area

‘t Groen Kwartier in Antwerp is the epitome of such a new neighbourhood where everything is located nearby and the design of the surroundings goes far beyond just ‘ornamental greenery’. By integrating and combining living-working functions, a neighbourhood shop, a restaurant and a co-working space, this central location in Antwerp has become a vibrant new area. The public outdoor space lends itself perfectly to prearranged meetings or chance encounters with neighbours or friends. Playing children have free rein. Cars are banished to the underground car parks, allowing soft traffic to use the cycle and pedestrian route in peace throughout the low-traffic inner area.

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Connected to nature and the city

CAAAP is also building another whole new neighbourhood in the smaller satellite town of Zwevegem. Leanderhof combines making a home, working and living with a strong emphasis on the green surroundings. The project is also centrally located in the town and everything you need is accessible within walking distance. Here, again, people’s precious cars have an underground home, thereby putting pedestrians and cyclists first. The cherry on the cake is the Guldensporenpad cycling superhighway which snakes through Leanderhof and provides an easy connection between the countryside and the city. And recently, the youngest residents gained an extra playground with high-quality playground equipment in this pleasant neighbourhood.

www.leanderhof.be

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CAAAP is also building another whole new neighbourhood in the smaller satellite town of Zwevegem. Leanderhof combines making a home, working and living with a strong emphasis on the green surroundings. The project is also centrally located in the town and everything you need is accessible within walking distance. Here, again, people’s precious cars have an underground home, thereby putting pedestrians and cyclists first. The cherry on the cake is the Guldensporenpad cycling superhighway which snakes through Leanderhof and provides an easy connection between the countryside and the city. And recently, the youngest residents gained an extra playground with high-quality playground equipment in this pleasant neighbourhood.

And the most sustainable one of them all?

That has to be Nieuwe Dokken. An ambitious urban renewal project which is currently in the midst of construction work to create a sustainable, self-sustaining area. You name it, De Nieuwe Dokken in Ghent has it. Car-sharing, electric charging points, a vast bicycle storage and washing facility, a communal urban vegetable garden, sustainable energy via Ducoop... The buildings, which are already iconic, are being built around a number of new neighbourhood parks that are bringing more greenery to the city and making it bloom again. The views over the water and the skyline of Ghent are breath-taking. And what’s more, you can cycle into the city centre in just ten minutes! Everything in close proximity? You bet.

www.denieuwedokken.be

Look ahead to the future

The best is yet to come. CAAAP recently commenced the redevelopment of the former Normaalschool (Teacher’s Training College) in Lier. This old, spacious, inner-city site is being given a new identity as a vibrant place to stop and relax for all residents of Lier and elsewhere. There is a strong focus on achieving a mix of living and working functions, and dedicating space to an urban farming project, an incubator and a few trendy places to eat and drink. A powerful combination that will bring the site back to life and make it bloom.

www.hetacademischkwartier.be