The two gas holders will become a crucial part of the neighborhood sprouting around the former industrial area, Source: City of Ghent

Derelict industrial site in Ghent becomes heritage attraction

Derelict industrial site in Ghent becomes heritage attraction

The Tondelier gas holders will be the heart of a new neighbourhood

The City of Ghent in Belgium is giving new life to an old industrial site – the two gas holders in the Tondelier district. One will become a water reservoir, the other – a meeting place.

The historic site will be the heart of the new neighbourhood of 530 homes currently under construction in the area. The redevelopment of the facilities is being aided by the Industrial Museum. The Tondelier gas holders will be available to the public for the first time at Ghent’s “Open Monument Route 2021”, a program aimed at promoting local historic sites.

Derelict industrial sites are the new cultural heritage

Today, the gas holders in Ghent are the only ones remaining in Flanders, and they are a majestic remnant of the city’s gasworks industry. They were built in 1880 and are part of the history of the Compagnie du Gaz de Gand.

They functioned as storage for the coal and gas produced in the region. The former 'tinderiers' used that gas to light Ghent's streetlamps, so there were many such holders across the region. However, gradually they fell into disuse and disrepair, then started disappearing.

But these two gas holders survived and even became protected monuments. Now, they are finding a new reason to exist, and a new purpose.

Gut one to save the other

One of the holders was completely gutted so that the parts can be used to repair the other one. Gasholder 1 is the repaired one, and it will be used as a water reservoir for the neighbourhood. A quarter of its roof will be translucent so visitors can admire “the belly of the beast”. At the same time, the mechanisms that kept the holders air-tight will be stripped and displayed in the park.

Gasholder 2 will be sealed in with soil, clay and topsoil. The visible bricks and railing will be restored with historic accuracy in mind, but it will serve as a gathering place for the locals using the park.

Filip Watteeuw, Alderman for Public Space and Monuments, stated in a press release that the gas holders are part of Ghent's industrial past and their preservation is crucial for the future, as well as beneficial for the area.

The site is a feature on the Open Monumentendag (Open Monument Day) 2021, a Ghent initiative aiming to promote cultural heritage in the area. Tours of heritage sites will start on 30 August featuring the so-called “Ghent Classics”, industrial heritage sites, repurposed churches and a cycling route passing by local castles.

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