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vilvoorde: city of the Zenne

Part 2 Project 2006
buggenhout sofie
Hailey Savage
WENK Sint Lucas Brussels | Belgium
The main issue of the project is the Zenne, a river that flows through a broad range of very diverse areas. The heavily polluted river has been treated merely as a sewage (marginalised and hidden) in the urban fabric of the old industrial site of Vilvoorde, a small town near Brussels.
The town plans to turn this large industrial site into an area for urban development. The river then could play a major role to enhance the living and environmental qualities of the site, provided that it gets purifyed.
A investigation has been done into possible natural, durable purification methods that could be implemented in an interesting spatial and ‘landscaping’ way. The choice was made to restore the original meandering of the Zenne (as a natural ‘monument’). Out of this meandering process a buffer-park area has been designed, catching possible floods. In order to recover the rivers water quality a patchwork of reed land connected to a grid of draining canals has been layed out on the entire site, so all drained water (households, industry and paved surfaces) in the Zenne is purified.
Five self-purifying buildings are planted as landmarks in the flood area (urban park), connecting the urban fabric with the landscape.

The purification system stipulates the architecture, but just as much the landscape and the urban structure of the site.

buggenhout sofie
Hailey Savage

This project develops an ecological system that structures space from urbanism to architecture. Remarkable is how the intelligent layout and dimensioning of a relatively simple system of water treatment resulted in a powerful urban landscape and provides a quasi natural limit to growth (treatment capacity = capacity of urbanisation).
The jury appreciated the consistent development of the concept throughout diverse scales (landscaping, urbanism, architecture, detailing public space) and issues (restructuring industrial site into a functional mixed self-sustaining environment based on the spatial validation of water treatment). Thorough research and sensitive implementation resulted in interesting landscape, urbanisation and building typologies.
This is an excellent search for an ‘ecology of urbanisation’ and genuine sustainability.


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