Kortrijk wins award for nicest new public space


Kortrijk’s canalside renovation has been honoured for improving urban space and citizen pride

Like ducks to water

The renovation of Kortrijk’s riverside quarter has won an award for the best use of public space in Brussels and Flanders, from both the jury of professionals and the public vote.

The prize for the Oude Leieboorden project was given out during the Public Space Congress in Ghent this week. It is awarded by congress organisers Infopunt Publieke Ruimte, which represents Flemish municipal councils, entrepreneurs and organisations working in the field of improving public space.

The regeneration of the banks of the Leie river in central Kortrijk was carried out by engineering bureau Arcadis and landscape architect Michel Desvigne. Their vision was to re-establish contact between the river and the historic city and create a new meeting place, increasing the quality of life for residents and visitors.

“Arcadis is very proud to have been able to support the city of Kortrijk and the Flemish Waterways in the realisation of the Leieboorden,” said Jo Van De Sype, project leader for urban development and mobility at Arcadis. “The public prize is recognition of the work of everyone concerned in this complex project and is a boost for all our colleagues to continue working towards a better public space.”


Five projects were shortlisted for the prize, from 50 nominations. They were the renovation of the Singel Noord area of Antwerp, the refurbishment of the area surrounding Liedekerke station, the improvement of the German military cemetery in Hooglede and a project in Wetteren to link the historic centre with the two banks of the Scheldt river.

As well as impressing the jury, the Kortrijk project also wowed the public, who voted online for their favourite initiative. Almost 2,000 people voted; this is the first project to have taken both the jury and public prize since it was established in 2008.

“This has given the area a new appeal that benefits the city centre,” said jury president Jan Vilan of Infopunt Publieke Ruimte. “Public space is used as a driver for city marketing and the local economy. In addition, water in a city is becoming increasingly important for quality of life, and in that regard Kortrijk is a trendsetter in Flanders.”

Photo courtesy Stad Kortrijk