The Fish Market Square is part of the historical center of Leuven, to be transformed into a car-free, pedestrianized area. The layout of the square was always defined by a sequence of dominant uses: a harbor for transportation, a market hall for trade and today it is a parking lot for cars. With the transformation of this area into a pedestrianized zone, this sequence has come to an end. There is no new dominant use. Experience learns that this freedom often results in boring refurbishments of historical realms. We take this chance to rethink and reimagine the design of our public spaces.
In the past the Vismarkt was a working space and a circulation area. We turn it into a living room for residents and visitors. It becomes the domain of the ‘Homo Ludens’. Instead of a dictating space, we design a provocative and seductive environment, and replace monotonous design by an abundancy of atmospheres and characters. Moreover the new realm generates healthy living conditions, integrating mechanisms to make Leuven more sustainable, smarter, cleaner and healthier. They contribute to a sustainable water management, and the improvement of urban ecology and biodiversity of the city. Technical innovations are linked to spatial quality, creating a new type of public realms.
To achieve this, historical structures are not restored, but functionally activated as a colorful collection of acupuncture installations. New urban oases are daylighting the covered canal underneath the square. They are turned into compact, powerful landscape sculptures and efficient environmental mechanisms. A large variety of these sculptures is developed, and subject for an intensive participation process with inhabitants and stakeholders.
Commission | Public space masterplan, opening up the underground historical river structure, turning it into a contemporary urban space, contributing to a healthy water system.
Client | City of Leuven, Belgium
Type | Study | Masterplan
Team and Partners
Michiel van Driessche, Deborah Lambert, Marnix VInk, Zofia Krzykawska, Ekaterina Andrusenko, Rêve Deijkers, Brice Cossart, Tractebel Engie
Landscape Architect | Felixx
Images Credits | Felixx