Maxwan Architects + Urbanists shared with ArchDaily their winning proposal for the Machelen-Diegem masterplan. This urban area is located in Brussels, Belgium and is filled with historic value. The site, located between the arteries of the capital of Europe (surrounded by airport, road and rail infrastructure), in the vicinity of strategic economic development, near a large city, yet affordable living in a green environment, Machelen and Diegem is a very interesting area. The nature of the site poses a variety of challenges for the designers.
Read on for more on the resolutions of this urban plan after the break.
The site, Machelen-Diegem, presents itself as a series of contrasts. It is located in the large urban area; yet often is reminiscent of a small community. It is divided by a series of imposed infrastructural lines (rail, highway and international airport); while its long term economic vitality hinges upon the proximity to these networks. Historically it is two distinct villages; that now function under one governmental body. These potentials and problems present a rich set of questions.
The preliminary designs focus on the current realities and long term futures of residents of the villages. Firstly, it addresses the specific impacts of the regional infrastructure that have been rolled out over the villages without much consideration. The work seeks to both remedy the unresolved spaces that have emerged and to harness the economic potential that being tied to these large networks offer.
Secondly, the plan embraces the existing nature and intimate urban qualities in the area. It enhances them by improving the internal spatial organization of the cores and through transforming each neighborhood’s tissue. This is done by inserting strategic facilities in key spaces and by improving the quality of the public space throughout. Understanding the individual visual qualities of each area is integral to framing a series subprojects and specific proposals that can be implemented over the long term to enhance both the individual components and the greater whole of Machelen-Diegem.
The balance between the many elements of the state of the site is very fragile. Being that it is very close to an international airport and major railway and high way lines, the massive infrastructural network gives Machelen-Diegem excellent access on regional scale, but cuts the local tissue into pieces. The economic development may bring prosperity, but do the advantages weigh against the disadvantages for the residents of the municipality? The preliminary design for a master plan and quality plan is primarily for the residents of the villages. It shows that living in the town is worthwhile, and that its future is guaranteed. It is a plan that first of all wants to address the specific impact of the regional infrastructure that has been rolled out over the villages without much consideration. Secondly, the plan enhances the internal organization of the cores and improves the neighborhoods by transforming the tissue, by the implantation of strategic facilities and by improving the quality of the public space. Image quality is an integral part of each of the subprojects and is enhanced by some specific proposals.
Architects: Maxwan Architects + Urbanists
Location: Machelen-Diegem, Belgium
Awards: 1st Prize Open Call
Client: City of Machelen
Program: housing, facilities, public space
Site area: 1150 ha
Date: Start of project 1/1/2011
Team: Design Supervisor Hiroki Matsuura, Rients Dijkstra
Team: Team Leader René Sangers
Team: Maxwan Team Hiroki Matsuura, Rients Dijkstra and René Sangers with Artur Borejzso, Leena Cho, Jason Hilgefort, Nobuki Ogasahara, Ignas Uogintas, Aleksandar Hrib, Michele Sbrissa
Collabrator: Architect 1010 Architecture Urbanism
Consultant U: Traffic Engineer Peter Brogt – Goudappel Coffeng BV