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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Sint Katelijnestraat in Mechelen, Belgium by OKRA Landscape Architects

January 15th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: OKRA Landscape Architects

The assignment for the Sint Katelijnestraat is ambiguous. The idea is to develop the quality of the public space and further expansion of the qualitative network of the town of Mechelen.

Meanwhile, the heart of the town has gotten a large quality-impulse but a beautiful route to the centre is still lacking. Thereby, Mechelen will be an attractive town to visit. By that, the undiscovered heart of the centre will actually be exposed. Because of the structure of the town, the orientation in the medieval public space network is difficult. The redevelopment of the town radius Sint Katelijnestraat largely contributes to this and will thereby form an orientation line in the centre.

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects

  • Architects: OKRA Landscape Architects
  • Project: Sint Katelijnestraat
  • Location: Mechelen, Belgium
  • Name initiator: Town of Mechelen, College van Burgemeester en Schepenen
  • Size and nature of planning area: 8500 M2
  • Execution costs public space: 1,2 million Euro, excluding VAT
  • Delivery-date: 2009

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects

The beautiful trace of the Sint Katelijnestraat is a derivative of the trace of the former vliets in the town of Mechelen. This is a quality that is now unrecognizable and can easily be regained. The public space and the curve of the Sint Katelijnestraat is now fragmented and crosses a number of distinct places that are situated next to it and are no part of the trace.

The assignment is to realize a continues curve with an unambiguous build-up, continuously beautiful profile that does justice to its historical context. The places by the routes will be visited one by one as special orientation points by the route. The orientation points are: the gate to the Vesten, the Sint Kathelijne cemetery, the Stadsheimelijkheid and cross-section with the vliet Nieuwe Melaan at the Posthoornbrug with the sight line on the St. Rombouts cathedral as last fixed point. The town radius will thereby become an orientation point in the inner urban network for the public domain. The profile will get the unambiguous construction of the town radius type. A driving lane with cobblestones will be enfolded by a sidewalk at both sides. Parking is organized on one side of the driving lane, whereby a beautiful curve in the spatial image of the road will arise. Material-wise a connection will be made with the decoration of the Grote Markt, the Botermarkt, the Melaan, Veemarkt and Steenweg.

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects

For the sidewalks, a well-walkable porphyry rock will be applied, burned and sawed at the upper side. For the driving lane and parking spaces, the rough porphyry is applied that is rough around the edges. That way, a beautiful but subtle contrast  will arise between the walkable part and the driving lane part. The  bands are smooth, sawed around the edges and at the street side.

The Sint Katelijne cemetery is situated at the Sint Katelijnestraat. The special feature of this square by the route is the Sint Katelijne church which its beautiful volume construction and charming details. The eye catcher in the space here is the church building. After the close and messy profile of the Sint Katelijnestraat there is a need for a silent place. The church will get a large green front-plinth. A lot of space to stay on the square. On the square there will be a number of large green areas that soften the perspective of the church. The slightly sloping shapes will be surrounded by trees of which the crows have light foliage. Two species are applied for the square. The base is formed by the Gleditsia triacanthos ‘enermis’ that is combined with a tree with a slightly heavier leaf and a beautiful autumn colour. This is the Gymnociadus diocicus (Kentycky Coffee tree).

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects


The large number of materials and the diversity of appliances give the town of Mechelen a messy image. In a lot of places in town is searched for ‘the quality of the place’ but an integral urban quality is lacking. The transitions between different areas are especially problematic because the lack of cohesion is most visible here.

The Melaan is part of the historic main web of the town and is therefore developed as such.

The Grote Markt is also part of this web and redeveloped with a very sustainable result. To our insight, the Grote Markt is the fixed point for the materialization of the Grote Markt.

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects

Image Courtesy © OKRA Landscape Architects

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Category: public spaces

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