Bruges tram depot re-imagined as urban sports centre


De Lijn site to be redeveloped as green space and community resource in Assebroek neighbourhood

Green lung

A former tram depot in Bruges is to be redeveloped as a green space with an urban sports centre. The project replaces a plan to build apartments on the 1.5-hectare De Lijn site, in the suburb of Assebroek.

“Initially, De Lijn had planned a housing project for the site, but the city council didn’t want to see any extra buildings in the neighbourhood,” explained Mercedes Van Volcem, city councillor responsible for public space. “Instead, we want the concrete to make way for green space and facilities for residents.”

The city bought the site for €2.3 million, and plans to apply to the Flemish government for funds to support the redevelopment work.

Turning the site (pictured) into a park will make a “green lung” in the centre of Assebroek, which lies just outside Bruges’ historic city centre. “Converting the paved area into an urban oasis will create breathing space in this densely populated suburb,” said Van Volcem.

Some of the original tram sheds will be preserved as examples of the city’s industrial heritage. “A number of buildings are of significant historical value, and offer ideal locations for recreational and other public activities that will make the park lively and dynamic,” said Dirk De fauw, the mayor of Bruges.

Bouldering in Bruges

The largest tram shed will be home to an urban sports centre. “We are thinking of sports such as free running, bouldering, inline hockey, BMX, urban dance, and so on,” said Franky Demon, city councillor responsible for sport and heritage.

Urban sports get a raw deal in Bruges, and the council wants to redress the balance. “These are sports that cannot be accommodated in traditional sports centres,” Demon explained. “Yet they are often associated with distinct subcultures, so we want to devote some space to them in the former depot.”

The whole site will be integrated into the city’s cycle network and local low traffic zones, in consultation with local residents.

Photo: Stad Brugge