ASIAT is a former military site in the north of Vilvoorde that was abandoned sometime in 2012. In late 2018 the city of Vilvoorde managed to acquire the grounds in their totality and began facing the challenge of finding a suitable development strategy. Faced by proposals from project developers, the city decided to launch a call for a first-phase overhaul of the 60,000 m² site which focuses on designing and building interventions in the open space to facilitate temporary use and occupation by events and a summer programme.

51N4E won the call for proposals, being part of a team led by long-time partner Plant en Houtgoed (landscape and ecology) and joined by Onkruid (Horst) and Openair (executing contractor). With only a few months to design and build the project, a highly condensed and fast-track process was laid out, combining conception and design with first-work preparation and on-site management. The eventual ten-week (!) execution of the complete project was steered, managed and adjusted mostly through intense communication and on-site work.

The result is a site where we have managed to keep the original atmosphere of a bewildered urban place, but with an (infra)structure that facilitates a multitude of uses and programmes – some short-lived, some stretching over several months. The landscape of the whole site has been evaluated in terms of biological and biodiversity value and enhanced on strategic locations to not only upgrade nature, but also to create a landscape structure with an upgraded value on a longer term, thus structuring future developments.

Entrances to the site have been shaped in such a way that they guide visitors’ inwards, but also form elements in themselves. On the other hand, some of the site boundaries have been shifted and revaluated so that a more open appearance is created towards passers-by.

The summer of 2019 was seen as a first test for ASIAT, with an intensive two-month summer programme being hosted, featuring cooking and gardening workshops, youth camps, academic workshops, private events and the Horst arts and music festival.

  • Location

    Vilvoorde, Belgium

  • Client

    City of Vilvoorde

  • Description

    First-phase design&build intervention to facilitate activation of an abandoned military site through temporary use. In the meantime building a value framework to open the door for more sustainable redevelopment of the site, by using landscape and enhancing biodiversity.

  • Completion

    September 2019

  • In collaboration with

    Plant en Houtgoed, OPENAIR, Onkruid

  • 51N4E project team

    Ruben Janssens, Arya Arabshahi, Dieter Leyssen, Daryan Knoublauch

  • 51N4E involvement

    Design guidance and follow-up of the design&build process, support for stakeholder management (as subcontractor to Plant en Houtgoed)

  • Consultant

    UTIL (control wall openings)

  • Landscape

    Openair + Plant en Houtgoed

  • Construction

    Openair + Plant en Houtgoed + Onkruid

  • Construction management

    51N4E + Onkruid

  • Construction cost (excl. VAT)

    €300.000 (total budget)

  • Programme

    First phase activation through temporary occupation and landscape as a long-term framework.

  • Site surface

    60.000 m²

  • Photography

    Sepideh Farvardin, 51N4E

  • Image credits