New future for old police station lets Overlei district flourish
On behalf of the city of Kortrijk, its urban development company Stadsontwikkelingsbedrijf Kortrijk (SOK) is selling the old police station at the Sint-Amandslaan and the villa at the corner of the Kollegestraat to ION, the Waregem-based property developer. ION envisages a multifaceted project that would allow the Overleie district to flourish and thrive.
Extensive complex between Sint-Amandslaan and Diksmuidekaai
The buildings along the Sint-Amandslaan (26-30) were previously used by the local police, up until 2012. The entire plot gives out onto the Sint-Amandslaan, the Kollegestraat and the Diksmuidekaai. The property consists of multiple buildings.
One is the Norman-style urban villa designed by Jozef de Coene, at the corner of the Sint-Amandslaan and the Kollegestraat. Dating back to 1911, this villa and its surrounding garden have been put on the cultural heritage inventory list, and the process of designation for protection has been initiated.
A second building is the former ‘Dr Valcke Medical Institute’. This building, also from 1911, is an iconic landmark in the Sint-Amandslaan. This former hydrotherapy institute, boasting a historical façade and stairwell, has been put on the cultural heritage inventory list.
Lastly, there are two more buildings at either side of the open square at the back of the old police station.
Slow urbanism puts buildings to good use
In keeping with the philosophy of ‘slow urbanism’, the city has opted to put the domain to temporary use in the past few years. This way, the local community has been able to get acquainted with the buildings and explore its full potential. The corner villa has been home to several summer bars, from RaBARber to Villa Tina, PandA and Jardin Bohémien. The former police station has been the venue for several art exhibitions as well as a property market. Over the Christmas period, ‘The Smallest Shopping Centre in the World’ was organized here. This period has shown that the site is suited to multiple functions and should be embedded in the re-emerging Overleie district.
Sold under strict heritage-preserving conditions
Late last year, these buildings were put up for sale, subject to a number of conditions. It was decreed, for instance, that the corner villa is to be preserved, as well as the old Medical Institute’s façade. The internal stairwell and the cupola structure, if replaced, should also be recognizable in the newly built structure.
In the end, ION was selected based on the price and the submitted plan, which was titled ‘Overlys’. ION will be purchasing the terrain for the sum of €1,278,278. It will join forces for this project with B2Ai Human Centered Architecture (based in Roeselare), Ensemble (Kortrijk), and Caan Architecten (Ghent). The landscape architect will be Denis Dujardin from Kortrijk.
Development with a vision
For this project, ION has opted to collaborate with Den Achtkanter, an organization for adults with an intellectual disability. Behind the protected façade of the old Medical Institute, a new building will be erected for Den Achtkanter, comprising multiple accommodation units and a day centre.
Together with the architects, ION has conceived a plan for this project involving several key points.
For starters, the project is to be firmly embedded in the local neighbourhood, so as to contribute to the further development and expansion of Overleie as a lively, dynamic residential area. Social cohesion will be stimulated by complementing the purely residential function of the project with other functions, such as Den Achtkanter’s day centre, working spaces for creative entrepreneurs, and neighbourhood initiatives such as Sunday brunches.
Furthermore, this project involves a mix of classic and innovative housing typologies. In addition to some two dozen accommodation units for Den Achtkanter, the inner area will feature two affordable ground-level residences for families with children. Along the Kollegestraat, several trendy apartments/loft shells will be constructed. And along the Diksmuidekaai, two buildings are planned: one, next to the existing corner building, will house a multipurpose space on the ground floor and about 8 quay apartments, while the other, adjacent to the vacant ‘Lemahieu’ lot, will consist of 3 stacked quay houses.
As per the sale conditions, ION will make sure to respect the cultural heritage. The police station’s façade on the side of the Sint-Amandslaan will be kept, and a variation on the old gallery of the police station will be incorporated into the new building for Den Achtkanter. The urban villa, named “t’Onzent”, will be preserved in its entirety. Besides residences and guest rooms, the villa will also feature workshops/coworking spaces and a coffee bar, so this can become a place for creative entrepreneurs such as interior decorators and designers. ION is currently in talks with a married couple of architects to set this in motion.
The development will also add more green spaces to the Overleie district. Since the project is divided into multiple units atop an underground car park, there is room for a central green square, in the form of a ‘secret garden’ that is easily traversable.
It goes without saying that special attention will be paid to the various aspects of sustainability, by meeting the strictest energy performance and indoor climate (EPB) requirements and by using sustainable construction techniques and materials that are easy to maintain. Furthermore, smart mobility in terms of public transport, bicycle use, and car sharing is a cornerstone of this project.
In the spirit of ‘slow urbanism’, while awaiting further planning and construction permits to be issued around mid-2018, ION will allow the Kortrijk chapter of JCI (Junior Chamber International) to use the old police station for its events surrounding the organization’s jubilee year.
Construction will commence in autumn of 2018.
Wout Maddens, alderman for Living and Building: “With ION, we’ve found a partner who believes in Overleie’s story. This project will help this district to thrive through a diverse programme: the partnership with Den Achtkanter, various housing types, creative entrepreneurs and lots of greenery.”