Redevelopment of rundown urban area next to historic town centre with a dense and mixed program: school for higher education, public library, museum, art house cinema, shops, cafés, health care, and housing. Overall goal of the development was to create a rich urban environment with mixed-use, generate a healthy living environment, do justice to the cultural history of the site and express the identity of the place, respond to climate change and reconnect to natural (water) system. Development also included realignment of main road, downsizing car traffic and installing underground energy backbone using excess warmth of nearby industrial site for heating and cooling of the new complex.
Ligne forms a linkage in central Sittard: a connection in time between the new city and the historic city and a connection in space that responds to functional changes and densification. It is also a regenerative design to recover the open the Fields of Fire and uncovering the stream around the historic walls, making the inner city more attractive to visitors.
This project covers the plan for the public space, including the central square and the space between the new buildings, the adjacent streets, the uncovering of the stream, the fields of fire and the moat, the bridges over the stream and over the moat, the redevelopment of the historic highway (including energy backbone). In short, it is an integral plan to ensure that the new developments fits in seamlessly.
The plan houses a mix of functions; in between, the interstices are designed for pedestrians and cyclists. The materials used are local, timeless, sturdy but still gracious. The trees not only structure the urban space but also contribute to a healthier environment, and with the uncovering of the stream, the regenerated blue and green network reactivates the natural ecosystem. More room for the water creates a resilience for climate change, and counteracts urban heat stress.
The Stream and the Fields of Fire:
The plan brings water back to the city by restoring the moat and the ramparts, the stream along Ligne is uncovered. The stream is diverse, and the shore lines were designed accordingly: on one side a brick wall stands in the stream connecting it to the city, the other is linked to the Fields of Fire with a verdant, gentle slope.
By concealing the parking underground, the Fields of Fire are cleared, visually open but still connected with a criss-cross of paths. On the extensive lawn, tree groups are scattered on strategic locations, keeping the view always open but never dull.
The Culture Square
At the heart of the new development the Culture Square connects various institutions: academy, public library, museum, cinema, shops, cafes and care facilities. It is called the new ‘living room’ of the city. This creates a vivid scene of people coming and going; the new bridges contribute to this dynamic. In the vital urbanity, the trees are islands of rest, offering shade and calm. The openness of the square allows for versatility, from open-air events to public gatherings. It also allows for a strong visual link with the silhouette of the city and its characteristic church towers.
The warm yellow granite pavement enhances this central place. The combination of red brick and yellow stone for paving and walls links the project to the much loved historic buildings.
The Crystalline Cloud
In daylight the square holds a special surprise: 24 suspended crystals suspended above the square that create a crystalline cloud. By using a special foil, the colours vary according to the viewing angle. Each facet breaks the sunlight in a different way. It can go from sparkling to dim, bright to soft, warm to cool. Even on a grey day the crystalline beads light up above the square.
In the evening, the beads are lit from within and become a magical constellation that emphasizes the connection between the buildings. This gives the space a unique identity, between the new and the familiar, the challenging and the traditional.
By recovering lost lines and open views of the landscape, the city reconnects with its past, rejuvenating the old, and anchoring the new. The pleasant proportions of the urban spaces, the natural appearance of the stream, the shelter of the trees, and the spectacular view over the field on the historic centre contribute to the harmony between the two parts of the city.
The new series of public spaces, combining vitality with calm, is greatly appreciated by the public. The integral development, connecting wide range of users, and achieving high spatial quality in the midst of the financial crises was marked with a nomination for the government prize for good commissioning.
Project location: Ligne 1, 6131 MT Sittard, NL
Design year: 2009-2016
Year Built: 2016 / 2019