Creative Kempense Poort
Hasselt (BE), 2010
To allow bigger ships to use the Albert Canal in Belgium, many bridges need to be either raised or replaced. One of these bridges is situated on the edge of the historic centre of Hasselt. Therefore, the challenge for project Creative Kempense Poort is twofold: it comprises both a design for the Kempen bridge with the two bridgeheads and intersections and, on a bigger scale, a comprehensive master plan for integrating this infrastructural design and the existing sub-plans in the study area into a convincing whole.
The concept of the masterplan we developed is not to just solve the traffic problems for cars and ships, but to also enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between the historic centre, the isolated and deteriorated area along the canal and Hasselt North. To achieve this, we use the existing bridge to create a half ring road and bypass for car traffic around the city and a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. With the improved connectivity and the attractive urban spaces that go with it, we want to simultaneously provide opportunities to improve and facilitate the sustainable development of the city of Hasselt as a whole.
This way, the Creative Kempense Poort is a development strategy that goes further than just the improvement of the infrastructure of the Noordelijke Singel of Hasselt. The plan will give the whole city of Hasselt a future-oriented and sustainable impulse. It opens up the area’s great potential to give the city a face on the water by linking the centre with the canal; by introducing a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge the plan offers new sustainable opportunities to remove barriers in the city, to link North and South, to improve slow traffic and public transport networks and to introduce a robust landscape structure at the same time. This way of tackling the location creates many attractive new development sites and economic potential.
The Master plan proposes a strategy based on the existing spatial structure and existing qualities; a robust framework with flexible subprojects. The Creative Kempense Poort project functions as catalyst within the Master plan giving the impulse for a new identity for Hasselt on the canal: the new bridge functions not only as a bridge, but also as a gateway to the city centre. By making the Kempense Poort not only a connection, but also an attractive destination with creative uses, entertainment, shopping, education and events, Hasselt gets a chance to unite both sides of the canal and regain its vibrancy and reputation as capital of vivants.