The REFILL partners (coming from from Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Romania, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Latvia and Belgium) visited the City of Ghent as host city of the final conference of the first phase of this URBACT initiative. During the conference the partners visited Watt, a temporary solution for a vacant office block by the hand of creative agency Dift and Re-Vive, a project developper with an eye for ‘the good life’.
Watt is the new name for the redevelopment of the former Electrion site along the Nieuwewandeling in Ghent. The Nieuwewandeling Street aims to become a new vibrant neighborhood in the city, 15 minute walk from the center. Watt is a mix of high-end craft, art, design, gastronomy and the symbol of the renaissance of the block, thanks to its privileged emplacement.
With a breathtaking art exhibition programme, this former vacant space is redefining the flows of visitors in the area. At Watt’s top floor you can also find a luxurious holiday home available for rent on the Airbnb hospitality platform.
There are also several crafts and art galleries, photography store, fashion repository and a beauty salon, all of them near a brunch bar, a cocktail bar and a coffee bar run by the recent European Champion on coffee.
Watt suggests a segmented price level offer with the purpose of creating a comfortable commercial space. All the businesses located in Watt are retails, except the brunch bar. The hosted created professionals hold at least 5 years of experience.
It is a great example about how to experiment with temporary use spaces, in order to get experience and build a more comfortable commercial area in the neighborhood, caring for quality and coziness.
SAMOA, the redevelopment agency of the Isle of Nantes (France) showed its interest for this very experience as a case study, since Watt is currently able to attract neighbors and visitors while building new ties and connections among creative entrepreneurs. This strategy is coherent with the current needs of the Isle of Nantes, a former industrial area that represents the biggest urban redevelopment project in Western France.
Boris Meggiorin & Virginie Barré – SAMOA Nantes