Ontharding Redingenhof

‘Ontharding Redingenhof’ is a citizens’ initiative about public space and sustainability supported and coordinated by 51N4E. It is a study of how (public) space can be cocreated by the users who are closest to those spaces, in contrast to the general practice by which projects are initiated by an administration, designed by external parties and in the best case presented to the inhabitants for feedback. Especially in the light of an environmentally sustainable transformation, this project departs from the hypothesis that it will be necessary to combine private and public actions to tackle climate challenges.

The project centres on a street in the Redingenhof district at the edge of the historical centre of Leuven, where the old beguinage is located and the Dijle river enters the city. In 2007 local authorities developed a plan to reconstruct the street, but this plan was received negatively by the inhabitants due to the lack of greenery. In consequence, the project was abolished and the street vanished from the city’s to-do list. When the Flemish government launched a call in 2018 for pilot projects on demineralization, a group of inhabitants in collaboration with 51N4E and Plant- en Houtgoed submitted a proposal to use this funding to start a three-year process with inhabitants, users, the local school and the city administrations to put the project back on the agenda and integrate it in the larger framework of a climate-proof neighbourhood, in which different actors take up their responsibility by executing small projects.

51N4E is coordinating the coalition-building process and using design tools to set up local collaborations around concrete interventions. As a project with neither a clear client nor a scope nor a brief, it has in many ways become a search for finding the window of possibility to realize quality change today and within the existing frameworks. Car-free summer days were used to build a mock-up of a possible future together with inhabitants. Existing water outlets were connected to a central rainwater basin. Residents set up contracts with the city administration to allow them to plant, use and maintain the existing patches of public green in the neighbourhood. From these pre-configurations it is a much smaller step to discuss which private and public hardscape surfaces can be demineralized to form large collective gardens managed by a private-public collaboration.

  • Location

    Leuven, Belgium

  • Client

    Vzw Samenwerking Ontharding Redingenhof

  • In collaboration with

    Plant- en Houtgoed

  • 51N4E project team

    Eva De Bruyn, Ruben Janssens, Olga Konstantinovic

  • 51N4E involvement

    Public space design, stakeholder and process management, coalition forming

  • Programme

    public space, secondary school

  • Photography

    Eva De Bruyn, Ruben Janssens

  • Image credits