Church garden

Making room for a new green utility space.
Wetteren | BE
Municipality Wetteren
2017 - 2021
2173,5 m²
environmental construction of St. Gertrudis Church, design of meeting place and climate adaptive draft
OM/AR architecten bv/cvba, BDA engineering
De Dender Wegeniswerken NV

A few outdated buildings next to St. Gertrudis Church in Wetteren are making room for a new green utility space. Maximum efforts where made on softening, recuperation and infiltration of rainwater and reuse of existing materials. The church garden is one of the first realized projects within the Flemish project group called ‘Proeftuin ontharding’.

The design consists of lush green zones and lawns with a generous passage for pedestrians and bicycles on the side of the church. Because the level of the site descends toward the Scheldt, a retaining wall was set up between the slow link and the church garden to bridge a total difference in height of four meters between Markt and Scheldekaai. The levels in the church garden gradually sink into a playful rhythm of green terraces, these make the retaining wall and the difference in height less imposing. Between each terrace, sitting walls are provided where it is pleasant to relax in a microclimate among the greenery. At the end of the church garden, an ensemble of stairs connects to the passage along the church, allowing passers-by to walk through the greenery from Market to Scheldt Bridge.

The new church garden is an pleasant place to stay and also forms a crucial and green connection between the market and the Scheldt. These changes create more public space and do more justice to the monumental character of the church. This softening project is an essential step towards climate adaptation in order to build a more climate robust and livable center. Key aspects of the design include buffering and infiltrating rainwater in attractive various plant borders, reclaiming rainwater thanks to a smart system, reusing materials and working with robust new materials.

All rainwater is stored on site, can be reclaimed and/or infiltrates into the subsoil.