The centre of Kruishoutem, the ‘Markt’ (Market), the Nieuw Plein (New Square) and the surrounding streets are undergoing a thorough redesign of the public space and the construction of a separate sewerage system. The first phase, the Blekerijstraat, Nieuw Plein and Woestijnestraat, was finalized in the spring of 2017. In doing so, the weekly market in Kruishoutem has also been returned to its familiar habitat: the Nieuw Plein. The renovation of the centre is also focussed on traffic compatibility. The ‘Markt’ is being tackled in a second phase. Alderman Robrecht Bothuyne: “In the future this should ensure that the traffic from Oudenaarde will no longer be driven into the centre at full speed.”
Need for a new ‘Nieuw Plein’
The history of the Nieuw Plein’ in Kruishoutem is closely linked to the importance of the production of and trade in eggs. Egg production has grown and flourished in Kruishoutem since the first half of the twentieth century and an egg market was held every week. Because of great success and thus lack of space, the ‘Nieuw Plein’ was constructed in 1958. The ‘Nieuw Plein’ was therefore given a highly mercantile role with a functional layout linked to this: a large open area that was used as parking space on non-market days. Like on the ‘Markt’, there were extreme scale discrepancies between the existing buildings on the ‘Nieuw Plein’ and the adjacent open space. And where, on the Nieuw Plein, we previously had the feeling of an insurmountable space with minuscule dwellings around the edge, the ‘Markt’ previously witnessed a completely different scale. The presence of the church dominates the whole and the space is compartmentalized and made smaller by the through-road infrastructure and voluminous roundabout. The parking spaces dominate the open space and in the absence of an inviting and qualitative layout, users behave like passers-by. In the heart of Kruishoutem there was also a clear lack of a spatial link between the two places. Furthermore the ‘Nieuw Plein’ has little or no connection with the surrounding buildings. In addition, a multitude of materials, sizes and colours used, creates an unpleasant fragmentation.
New starting point
In the redevelopment of both squares, a new starting point prevails: the creation of a pleasant multiple use space, where the car is no longer the central player on both squares.
To make this possible, we worked on three principles: correcting the scale, loading and switching the space.
Correcting the scale
The correct proportion in length and width was sought and this in relation to the height of the surrounding buildings. Translated to the ‘Markt’, this mainly results in freeing up as much of the open space as possible. Translated to the ‘Nieuw Plein’, this results in the strategic placement of a few elements on the square, the division of the square into various subspaces (with diversified amenities) without losing the quality of the large space.
Loading or unloading the space
With the ‘Nieuw Plein’, the intention is to transform this from parking space into a multiple use space. With the ‘Markt’ this translates mainly to the unloading and freeing of the open space.
Switching the space
By matching the chosen materials with each other and by making a well-considered selection of a limited number of materials, unity can be achieved.
Entrant office name: Urban.Habitat_division of SWECO Belgium nv
Role of the entrant in the project: main contractor
Project location (Street, City, Country): Gemeente Kruishoutem, Nieuw Plein, 9770 Kruishoutem, BELGIUM
Design year: 2009-2016
Year Built: 2016-2017 (Fase I)