New Flemish Government Architect highlights importance of high-quality collective livingPublication date 12 November 2020
This summer, our new Flemish Government Architect was appointed - this is the advisor to the Flemish Government on all matters of architecture. The mandate of Leo Van Broeck is coming to an end and the torch is being passed to Erik Wieërs. He graduated as an architect in 1987 from the University of Antwerp and later also taught there. He went on to jointly and solely found a variety of architecture firms including Collectief Noord architects in Antwerp.
Striving for a high-quality standard of architecture in Flanders
It is the mission of the Flemish Government Architect, and his team, to strive towards a high-quality standard of architecture in Flanders. They are doing that tangibly by assisting Flemish city authorities and municipal authorities with the design of buildings and the layout of public spaces. He set out the broad strokes, as it were, and how we will lay the foundations over the next five years.
This forms a vision that positively affects the designs as well as their materialisation, experience and implantation. With government assignments, it is also the role of the Flemish Government Architect to select the participating architects on the basis of the Open Call.
Protecting nature with properly thought-out architecture
In addition to the standard responsibilities of being a Government Architect, the Flemish Government Architect also has certain other priorities that he is pushing for during his mandate. Leo Van Broeck highlights the vulnerability of nature and especially how we can protect it with properly thought-out architecture. Fragmented spatial planning must make way for ways of making homes that are less detrimental to nature. Only that way can we guarantee a sustainable future.
Low-traffic green zones in the heart of the city
We are conscious of that as a project developer, too. In projects such as ’t Groen Kwartier in Antwerp and De Nieuwe Dokken in Ghent, we are creating green, low-traffic residential neighbourhoods right in the heart of the city. The parks between the buildings are, on the one hand, somewhere for residents to unwind, where children can romp around, where a vegetable garden can be planted, etc. On the other hand, these communal outdoor spaces also serve as a safe shortcut for the surrounding neighbours.
These interactions are part of the development and bring the area back to life. In Zwevegem, too, the 2 green buildings are being surrounded by an extensive flower meadow. Here we are also promoting alternative and sustainable modes of transport, thanks to the seamless connection with the Guldensporenpad cycling superhighway.
High-quality collective living
Whilst climate change remains a current and important factor, Erik is also focussing on high-quality collective living. Our population is only continuing to rise but our infrastructure needs to rapidly adjust to that, too. How can we live more densely but still retain the same quality of life?
We all feel a bit of fear about diverging from the traditional pattern of building individually on plots of land
We all feel a bit of fear about diverging from the traditional pattern of building individually on plots of land but demographic change is forcing us to develop creative alternatives. Erik Wieërs first and foremost wants to acquaint the people of Flanders with collective ways of living.
There are now plenty of pilot projects that can prove the qualities in black and white. It is also important to remember that those innovative ways of living do not have to exclude the village way of life. As long as the aspect of privacy is retained, collective home building can certainly meet those demands. Furthermore, the shrinkage in space also results in a large proportion of green public spaces. The societal dimension of good architecture is something Erik holds dear and he definitely wants to make a difference in that area.
Innovative ways of living do not have to exclude the village way of life