At the end of 2015, BUUR won the town planning competition for the development of the fourth Green Pole in Ghent. The very inspired project integrates the existing conditions and transforms the X-shaped counter-dike of the “Oud Vliegveld” (old airport) into a “magic forest” with hidden places, interesting routes including a fun program, and an open border off dike ideal for setting up an active program. Thanks to this contrast between the open space outside the dike and the density of the forest in the heart of the dike, the “Wonderwoud” is a unique experience that allows you to experience nature in a whole new way.
The project is based on a development (of nature) from soil and water. The soil of the “Oud Vliegveld” has been particularly roughed up in the past (backfilling for an airport; sand extraction; mud dumping). In the context of the future development of the Green Pole, it will be further profiled with the aim of creating an intentionally rugged topography and allowing nature to develop spontaneously. This new structure of the soil and the relief allows the development of vegetation and habitat specific to the area. So not a great divergence of vegetation and habitats, but a harmonious variety of compatible, interconnected biotopes. Thus, the project avoids creating a “park effect” while ensuring a high amenity value. In order to reinforce the identity of the “Wonderwoud”, the forest will be equipped with three character-defining elements.
The design language of these features will make the forest pleasant and easily identifiable for visitors. The “ecological dike” surrounding the forest makes it possible to introduce a playful typology in the form of “dike breakthroughs” which will consistently mark the entrances to the forest. Glades set up within the “magic forest” will be loaded with characteristic and surprising elements. At the crossroads of the “Westlede” and the open waters, a marker will be installed where visitors can reorient themselves after having strolled through the forest and looking at the landscape. The observation tower installed at the highest point of the sea wall offers a 360-degree view of the surroundings.