Contract signed to build new InnovOcean Campus in Ostend


€17m development will house the Flanders Marine Institute and part of the Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Sea science

Two marine science organisations based in Ostend are to have a new, custom-made home. Called the InnovOcean Campus, the €17 million building will have offices, laboratories and a conference centre. It should be complete in early 2022.

The new development will bring together the marine science department of the Flemish Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ilvo) and the Flanders Marine Institute (Vliz). Both organisations are located on the Oosteroever neighbourhood of Ostend, but both need new homes.

Vliz is based in warehouses belonging to the Vismijn, the old fish market located in the middle of the docks. These are due to be renovated, so the marine researchers have to move. The same goes for the international organisations Vliz hosts, such as the European Marine Board and the European Marine Observation and Data Network.

Ilvo’s marine science department has been in the same buildings on Ankerstraat since the 1970s. The building is run down and looking a little shabby, and it generates high energy bills.


“The initial idea was just to look for new accommodation for Vliz,” explained Steven Adons of investment company PMV, which co-ordinated the process. “Then it appeared there were synergies and efficiency gains that could be achieved through housing Vliz together with the nearby Ilvo. Both institutions do complementary work with regard to the marine environment and research, and locating them together will further intensify co-operation.”

The seven-floor InnovOcean Campus will be built on waste land next to Ilvo’s fishing research building. The contract signed this week by Philippe Muyters and Koen Van den Heuvel, the ministers for innovation and the environment respectively, awards the work to Algemene Bouw Maes, a part of the Van Roey group.

The building has been designed by evr architecten of Ghent. “The theme of sea and water is reflected – literally and figuratively – in the choice of materials,” said project architect Jan Van Den Broeke.

A blue glass mosaic facade will pick up the changing light specific to the coast, while the colour palette of the floors and fittings will refer to the white, yellow and gold of sand. “It will be a building that will reflect the poetry of wind, water, sun and clouds.”

Image courtesy evr architecten