Fly Over

The exploratory spatial study of the car viaduct B401 is a broad exploration of the possibilities, opportunities and difficulties that the different possible futures of the viaduct and its surroundings can offer the city of Ghent. The study comprises two phases, an exploratory phase and a synthesizing phase. Simultaneously with the work of the multidisciplinary study team, the city authorities launched an extensive participation and communication process to engage a broad range of citizens.

The exploratory phase started with the definition of key questions. The problems and the contradictions were defined. Subsequently we gathered information about the area by exploring different themes: the viaduct as urban nature, as urban place, as a building, as a laboratory. The narratives depict three entirely different futures for the viaduct and its surroundings: the ‘long park’ narrative maximizes the greenery, the ‘urban ensemble’ narrative uses the strategic location of the viaduct to strongly densify, the ‘neighbourhoods’ narrative focuses on strengthening the living quality of the surrounding neighbourhoods and their transversal connections. The research on these themes and narratives generated spatial concepts – design tools for urban transformation. The last step of this phase consisted of several zooms. Using sections and models, we zoomed in on strategic locations to better represent the spatial quality of the various possibilities and consequently to engage easily with citizens.

In the synthesizing phase, key choices were presented that can guarantee a high-quality urban transformation. These key choices are based on research and the participation process with citizens and city authorities. A mission statement briefly described the shared goals and the approach. The framework described the main spatial storyline. The transition process placed the urban transformation in a time perspective: a collection of small interventions, a realistic approach over a long period of time with room for new insights. The action plan is a list of quick wins, pilot projects, structural interventions, and possible partnerships.

  • Location

    Ghent, Belgium

  • Client

    City of Ghent (project coordinator Filip Van De Velde)

  • Description

    A participatory research on the future of the car viaduct B401 that connects Ghent South and the highways.

  • Completion


  • In collaboration with

    Tractebel, Granstudio, VUB Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research, Wageningen U&R

  • 51N4E project team

    Freek Persyn, Oscar Broeckhoven, Aurèle Rattez, Dieter Leyssen

  • 51N4E involvement

    Research by design, organization of public workshops

  • Photography

    Michiel Devijver, Jef Geldof, Jennifer Kesteleyn

  • Image credits

    51N4E, Tractebel, City of Ghent