Ghent Watercity

The Belgian city of Ghent is in need of an integral vision on their urban water structures. Together with OMGEVING we developed a perspective for ‘Blue Ghent’ in the context of climate change and the desire to improve the quality and the usability of water structures in the city.

Waterways are crucial to the identity of Ghent. In the 19th century the city was proud to have one of Europe’s most extensive and refined water networks. In the 20th century, water lost most of its importance, due to pollution and a decreasing economic use. Nowadays, the water in Ghent is again highly valued as part of a the historic ambiance and for recreation purposes. But a quality leap is still needed.

The vision for Ghent water evolves around 5 ambitions: more space for water, greener banks, better transport along and over the water, improved water quality and ‘the city as a sponge’. The ambitions are connected to 10 different types of ‘Blue Ghent’. The vision aims to further strengthen the characteristics of each of these water structures in a distinctive way. We elaborated the spatial and functional interventions for ‘Blue Ghent’ in sections, schemes and perspectives.

New for Ghent is the concept of the ‘sponge’. The city is impermeable and dense and not ready to cope with extreme rain events. We propose to create space for rainwater within the public domain and to make the ‘floor of the city’ more open, soft and green.

All the proposals together resulted in a comprehensive vision on the future of Blue Ghent that is approved by the municipality and now serves as a starting point for projects and programmes that make the city more blue and more attractive at the same time.