Laureate: DIERENDONCKBLANCKE ARCHITECTEN, OKRA Landschapsarchitecten bv, Veldhuis Architectuur BV
The design team of Dierendonckblancke architects, OKRA landscape architects and Veldhuis will be responsible for building a new meeting centre, reconstructing the centre square and opening up the Heulebeek in Gullegem.
The Heulebeek will return to the heart of Gullegem as a green-blue vein. A resolute choice will be made to make the brook as natural as possible. Gently meandering banks create various microclimates and provide a habitat for a multitude of indigenous species. Space will be provided to buffer and infiltrate water. The Heulebeek will no longer be constrained but will be given room to step outside its banks.
Both banks will have equal experience spots. Both play incentives and rest areas will be provided along the stream route. In some places, one can descend to the water, but there is also room for unprogrammed, wilder banks, benefiting nature development.
The greening extends to the Village Square, where the church is surrounded by a church garden. This green zone can eventually become a relaxation area, if the church is given a secondary use. The new centre square will have an elongated shape and offer various views of the surroundings. A car-free design has been chosen, significantly increasing the square's residential quality. It will be a pleasant place to be.
Wadeability will be greatly improved by creating more informal connections between Heulebeek Park and the Village Square. The path network around the Heulebeek will be extended to include both 'dry foot paths' and 'seasonal paths' that are inaccessible at high water levels.
The new meeting centre reveals itself as two linked volumes. The building mediates between the larger scale of the church and apartment buildings on the one hand, and the typical rear and annexes in the surrounding village fabric on the other. The meeting centre stands freely in the space and establishes clear relationships with the surrounding public spaces. The slender head of the building faces the Village Square. The cafeteria and entrance are provided on this side and add liveliness to the square.
A transparent and barrier-free glass plinth and a canopy connect the building to the public space and invite visitors. The canopy forms the transition between indoor and outdoor space and offers security. You will find protection from rain or bright sun and can unwind on a bench for a chat. The canopy also accompanies the walk from the church across the square to the bridge and on to the green zone at the party meadow.
The plan structure of the meeting centre is clear and inviting. The public zones inside connect to each other and are linked as much as possible to the surrounding public outdoor space. For the user, the building is readable. The entrances and walkways to the various functions are easy to find.
The integral design approach results in a successful interaction between architectural concept and approach to public space and landscape. The natural context offers peace and tranquillity. In turn, the renovated Centre Square and event facilities provide ample space and occasion for encounters.