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A view of the improvised urban furniture near the Vaartkom right now, Source: City of Leuven

Leuven transforming ex-industrial site into a green oasis

Leuven transforming ex-industrial site into a green oasis

The city plans to build an outdoor swimming pond on the canal between Leuven and Mechelen

Yesterday, city authorities in Leuven, Belgium, announced they will start renovations in Vaartkom, an ex-industrial area in the inner city, with a size of around 20,000 square metres. The new design will focus on increasing the liveability in the area, through public spaces and benches, while offering quality-of-life improvements in the form of greenery.

At the same time, the local administration wants to collaborate with the public, by allowing citizens to submit changes and propositions to the re-design plans. This will happen through online surveys in multiple stages during the planning phase.

Currently, the municipality has selected Tractebel as the company with the winning project to re-design the area. According to a statement by the city, the design and permitting process will be finalised by the end of 2022 and construction will begin in 2023.

In addition, the whole project will cost 12.3 million euros.

The urban waterfront in Leuven

The centrepiece of the area is the Leuven-Mechelen canal and the new project aims to take full advantage of the waterfront. Apart from cycling paths, green strips and a line of cafes, they plan to install floating pontoons, equipped with benches, so people can walk directly on the water.

The zone will also have a pedestrian boulevard, separated from traffic, so residents can enjoy the water.

Furthermore, authorities are planning to create an outdoor swimming pond separated from the canal. The pond will have plants as the main filtration system, where large reed beds and aquatic plants will purify the water.  

The pond will be able to take up to 70 people at a time and according to Mayor Mohamed Ridouani, with all the greenery around and inside, it will feel like swimming among the plants.

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