Inner city renewal Torhout, BE

year: 2017
size: 10 - 100 ha
type: urban design
client: Municipality of Torhout, BE
Master plan Torhout
Torhouts town center renewal plans offer a special opportunity to achieve a sustainable improvement that brings the best out of Torhout. With investments in the central public space and the hidden green of the town, Torhout becomes more attractive to all its inhabitants and visitors, from young to old. The master plan proposed by team LOLA, LIST and SWECO does not represent a full-fledged transformation of the public realm, but focuses on places where change can also really mean substantial and achievable improvement. Therefore, the master plan can be considered a sum of specific projects of which each has an added value to the town.

Market town
Torhout is located at the junction of three cobble stone-paved roads that together have the shape of a Y, connecting Ostend and Bruges with Lille and Kortrijk. The attractiveness of Torhout lies in its role as well-connected town. In addition to the charm of a medieval town, Torhout has got more to offer: it is also a center in itself. Its position as a marketplace makes it a focal point of a huge and productive region.

We believe that the weekly market should be the event that directs the design of the market square. We have chosen to pave the market in strips that follow the required dimensions of the market. The slightly angular rotation between the lines absorbs the current irregularities of the square and makes a smooth, continuous space. The road that pours through the entire market space becomes the main pedestrian road: a permanent public space. Furniture and public parking spaces are spread throughout the central areas, ensuring the visual and physical continuity along the square on normal days.

Seven hidden gardens
The fine-grained network of alleys and courtyards in the town center is an intimate contradiction to the representative central space of the market square. It forms an extra layer that you can discover as a visitor of the town or which only will be visible if you know it. Today many of the hidden places are used for parking. By relocating these parking spaces on an individual level there we can create spaces for other program that adds up to the experiential value of Torhout. We propose to transform a total of seven of these places into hidden garden.

The seven hidden gardens express the (hidden) emotional layer of the inhabitants of Torhout. All the gardens are connected to the market square via footpaths and each garden is a reference to the landscapes of Torhout: the woods, the fields, the streams, the castles, the mustard, the pottery and the West Flanders beer brewers. Together they form the Torhout icons: a narrative representation of the everyday life of Torhout: where you play as a child, where you hang out after school with your friends, where you go to the cafe, where important events take place, where you walk the dog or where you take your grandchildren.
Torhout Woltuin
's Gravenwinkeltuin
Torhout Puttuin