OMGEVING was commissioned by the city of Ghent and De Vlaamse Waterweg to draw up an integrated vision about the power of water in the city of Ghent. Water has been part of the urban DNA of the city since the origin of Ghent. Until the end of the 19th century, Ghent had the most complex and progressive water system in Europe. Diseases, management costs and social trends in the 20th century greatly reduced the presence of water in the urban fabric. The design team, reinforced with a few experts, worked out a strategy together with the city council and De Vlaamse Waterweg to restore the presence and rediscover the power of water.
As a spatial and functional structure, water comprises a wide range of functions, ranging from economics and water management to ecology, to living and recreation. Because many of these aspects are closely related to the waterway, it is necessary to include them all in an integrated ambition. With this in mind, the team considered six important themes. These describe the ambitions for water transport and distribution, the area where people can abide by the water and the further development of green-blue networks. Furthermore, the team strives for a greater sponge effect of the urban fabric and wants to focus on a better water quality in function of balanced ecosystems where there is also room for water-bound nature. Based on these ambitions, the design team presents an integrated vision of the future for 10 different types of ‘Ghentian blue’. They each have their own character, use, history or form of cohesion. The study concluded with specific short and long term actions.