West 8 transforms a town plaza beneath an elevated highway in Belgium

City Terrain International Landscape Architecture Urbanism
RENDERING OF ENGELS PLEIN. (COURTESY WEST 8)

RENDERING OF ENGELS PLEIN. (COURTESY WEST 8)

For years, Engels Plein, an “English Square” on the perimeter of Leuven, Belgium, has been dominated by viaducts overhead, making the square poorly accessible, dark, unsafe, and, consequently, rundown. To better connect the surrounding homes and commercial spaces, West 8 transformed the industrial space into an outdoor lounge with multiple terraces that encourage people to live, shop, and work in the area. Leuven, previously an industrial city, is now a center of architectural development and renovation.

TREES AND CONCRETE CURVE. (COURTESY WEST 8)

TREES AND CONCRETE CURVE. (COURTESY WEST 8)

West 8 won the “negotiated procedure” for Engels Plein in 2010, with a proposal to move the roadway under the viaduct and set-up green zones. The landscape architecture firm worked with BAS, Snoeck en partners, Tritel, ERM, and Betonac on the transformation. Since the square opened in October, its design has demonstrated a new sense of urban-ness with a stronger feeling of security.

Engels Plein houses 65 trees, some up to 50 feet tall, giving the square tranquil character and leading drivers through a landscape. Although aesthetically popular, this greenery was actually planted to combat pollution and avoid excess stormwater runoff. Other additions include roundabouts, a decking structure, and concrete edging.

CYCLING AND PEDESTRIAN PATHS. (COURTESY WEST 8)

CYCLING AND PEDESTRIAN PATHS. (COURTESY WEST 8)

The square has an elevator which connects to Keizersberg, a public park with hiking and recreation. New bus routes and cycling and pedestrian paths connect Engels Plein to the railway station and city center. “An attractive district will emerge where living, working and production function in a healthy balance,” West 8 said in a statement.

ENGELS PLEIN PLAN. (COURTESY WEST 8)

ENGELS PLEIN PLAN. (COURTESY WEST 8)

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