FLYOVER GHENT (2017)
Repurposing obsolete car-based infrastructure
We were part of the study team appointed by the city of Ghent (Belgium) to create a vision for the future of viaduct B401, better known as Ghent's flyover.
The flyover is a pathological relic of the past: a symbol of dislocation and disconnection, unfit for Ghent's vision and ambition.
Cities exist for people, freeways exist for fast-moving vehicles. The freeway in the city was an untested idea when the B401 was completed in the early 1970s. Up to date, it brings various motorways into the heart of the city of Ghent. However, since the construction of this flyover, the city's vision on mobility has changed drastically. As important milestone, a new traffic circulation plan came into effect in 2017, creating a completely car-free city centre. The flyover became a pathological relic of the past: a symbol of dislocation and disconnection, unfit for Ghent's vision and ambition. That is why the city appointed a study team (Granstudio, Tractebel, 51N4E, VU Brussels, TU Delft, Wageningen University), to investigate possible future scenarios for the B401 viaduct.
WHAT WE DID
We defined future mobility scenarios and designed their key elements, as part of a holistic vision for the flyover.
DEFINE : Knowing the context very well, we started by defining local and universal factors and driving forces of the mobility domain in which we’d work. Subsequently, we generated and elaborated multiple detailed scenarios, focusing on desired user experiences for mobility. Together with the complete team, we defined a holistic, transition trajectory that is not only limited to space and mobility, but also includes a very strong social dimension, and even tackles ecological and economical potential fitted for Ghent.
DESIGN: It became clear that the success or failure of our created scenarios depends on a number of key-elements and key-principles. Mainly, we designed in depth the thresholdless transition between the car-based surroundings and the car-free centre of the city. Keeping the user experience as a permanent asset, we designed the critical elements of a futureproof Park&Ride facility, drew how various services can be seamlessly integrated, and provided qualitative and quantitative guidelines for innovative public transport towards the centre.
DEVELOP: We framed the entire transition process into three "snapshots": one in the short, one in the medium and one in the long term, each with well-defined objectives. The city of Ghent and other authorities will use them as a base to adopt and develop the transition of the flyover step by step.
We must design from what will be possible in the future, and not (literally) anchor the limitations of the present in the future. After all, services, technology, vehicles, infrastructure and regulations are developing at very different speeds. Thinking from a user's perspective should not only be based on the things we currently know and use. A changing society, technological innovations and ecological requirements will ensure a thorough diversification of the mobility landscape. After all, the future is not merely an extrapolation of the present! The viaduct is a relic of a blind trust in the car as 'the future'; we may under no circumstances create new relics with the same kind of trust.
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