Station Axes Mechelen

In Mechelen, Belgium, a thorough makeover awaits the Stationsas (station axis) – the main route from the railway station to the Grote Markt. The city has the ambition to turn the Stationsas into Flanders’ most open and comfortable public space and is pulling out all the stops to make sure that this main approach to its inner city is ready for the future.

According to the brief, the street – running from the classic urban expansion district into the heart of the medieval centre – is to be transformed into the most public space in Mechelen, its main shopping street, a thoroughfare for public transport users and the greenest possible axis. Quite a challenge for a street that, in the present situation, begins as a main access road and is intersected by busy traffic routes at crucial locations.

The Stationsas includes three streets that range from narrow to wide and three squares, each with its own features. The thoroughfare character of the axis is underlined by a strong palette of straightforward materials and colours that weld the squares into a single, richly varied yet highly characteristic route. The layout of the squares, in turn, provides a rich variety of experiences and atmospheres. From the station, the route first traverses the Koning Albertplein diagonally in the direction of the Hendrik Consciencestraat. This is where the axis is at its widest. On broad pavements under large-crowned trees, people stroll past shops and sidewalk cafés set up on the sunny side of the street.

Next, visitors arrive at the Cardinal Mercierplein, where the bobbing crowns of pruned lime trees escort them to the Vesten. The Vesten trees reach deep into the heart of the square and form a green gate by which the access route enters Mechelen’s ancient city centre.

Through the Graaf van Egmontstraat, its profile that of a spacious shopping street, the route passes Vijfhoek, a small square with steps leading down to the water and pleasant seating on the river Dijle. The view across the river is to the botanical gardens.

Across the bridge, the Bruul is a medieval street turned comfortable shopping street, its trees and profile narrowing. Just before the Grote Markt lies the Botermarkt. Here the large Tilia creates a pleasant little square near the big chain stores.

A bit further on lies the Coolvliet: one of the historic streams that still hide under the street surface. The regeneration of the Coolvliet has made it a pleasant urban stream, flanked by plenty of seating for people taking a break or meeting in the city centre

  • Location: Stationsstraat, Mechelen, Belgium
  • (Nederlands) schetsontwerp: inzending Open Oproep 2012
  • Client: (Nederlands) Gemeente Mechelen