Urban design proposals typically focus on the big-picture end result, but masterplans forcing a new identity and built form on a location often fail to gel with existing surroundings or to promote social interaction. Regeneration through ‘placemmaking’ - creating community-focussed places around which neighbourhoods and workplaces can grow - is gaining ground as both developers and local authorities see the economic and social benefits.
Our proposals to regenerate a new urban quarter on the 1.4Ha ‘Thiry’ brown-field plot in Huy concentrate on the existing qualities of the site, and seek to introduce attractions to tempt locals and investors. Derelict industrial buildings are re-purposed as an indoor market and co-working spaces to provide low-cost space for sales and business start-ups. From the market, cafés and bars can spill out onto a new public space overlooking the Hoyoux waterway. This river once provided energy to power paper making factories, and can now be harnessed to create hydro-electricity for the market. In fact the Hoyoux once flowed all around the site and the complete waterway can be reinstated to form ‘Île de Thiry’ - an urban island with a strong identity in a naturalised setting. This ring of water provides the irrigation for bio-remediation, a process to decontaminate industrial land using plant crops, rather than expensive chemical interventions.
Around the vibrant ‘meanwhile’ uses, and bounded by the waterways, new buildings can grow to develop the local economy and provide places to live. Office and laboratory space is needed by the large regional hospital located 5 mins walk towards the city, while its nurses and junior doctors require key-worker housing. An accommodation offer is suggested that mixes townhouses next to the grain of the old city, with apartments in a tall mixed-use building marking the southern entrance to Huy. This ‘masterplan’ welcomes change over time with flexibility at each phase to test and develop the complex opportunities and constraints of growing a new city quarter.
These proposals were developed by Daykin Marshall Studio with a team of collaborators based in Belgium. Following shortlisting by Europan, a worldwide multi-disciplinary architectural competition run biannually, dialogue is ongoing with the authorities in Huy and owners of the site.