On Sunday, September 10th 2017, many of Ghent’s heritage sites are open to the public as part of Open Monumentendag (Open Monument Day). This year’s 29th edition focusses specifically on the temporary use of several locations, such as the Oude Dokken, NEST and Wasserij der Vlaanderen. In addition, several hiking trails are laid out along green heritage.
Temporary Use: spaces in transition from past to future
Several buildings and sites that are scattered around the edge of Ghent, are clear reminders of the city’s industrial past. They reflect the needs and ambitions of the industrial bourgeoisie and working class of that time. However, through the years the industry moved away and the buildings fell into decay.
Thanks to joint forces of neighbourhood residents and governments, many of those abandoned sites have been spruced up the last years and given a new, temporary purpose that meets the current needs of the inhabitants. Some have turned into playgrounds and meeting space, others are designed to host creative, economic or ecological initiatives. There are countless examples of this concept of ‘temporary use’ in Ghent: DOK, NEST, De Koer and De Bijgaard to name a few.
Take a free guided tour through various sites!
On Sunday September 10th, several ‘temporary use’ spaces open their doors for the day, allowing a unique, free and guided tour through the past, present, and future of different spaces. Be sure to visit the Oude Dokken, the 19th and early 20th century port area of Ghent that will be transformed into a new residential and working district. Currently, the Oude Dokken are an inspiring breeding ground for creative initiatives such as DOK at the Koopvaardijlaan, TOTUM with Bar Bricolage at Houtdok and the meeting place for Ghent skaters at BIY on the Afrikalaan.
More sites that offer guided visits are the Wasserij der Vlaanderen (a former laundry service), de Pastory (a formal pastoral home) and the old factory buildings of de Bijgaard, all located in the district of Sint-Amandsberg. Awaiting the transformation into sustainable development projects, local residents fully embraced the concept of ‘temporary use’ and turned the derelict places into worthy initiatives, such as a neighbourhood cafe, an ecological vegetable garden, a creative studio and even childcare.
Then there’s De Koer that takes you back to the past of the former socialist party venue Zaal de Meibloem, in the Brugse Poort neighbourhood. The venue has been temporarily redeveloped into a social and artistic meeting place. Stijn Oosterlynck, professor of sociology at the University of Antwerp, is specialized in urban studies and will give a lecture on Temporary Use in cities at De Koer on Friday, September 8th.
Last but not least, there is the former city library at Woodrow Wilson Square. You can wander around the building that was originally founded as a propaganda center of the Ghent Electricity, Gas and Water Services. Several different projects of the creative collective NEST are currently residing in the six-floor building, before it will finally be transformed into city offices.