"The Grand Place of Oudenaarde is located in the heart of the city. It houses, among other things, the historic town hall, an imposing building in Brabant gothic style that was built in the 16th century and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The redevelopment of 'De Markt' aims to evoke the lost urban function of the market square and to make it function again for all city dwellers. After a survey with the residents, it appeared that more greenery, less traffic, less parking above ground and a pleasant living space were the most important elements in the creation of a renewed, attractive city center. Finding a balance between deployable public space in relation to the adjacent buildings – which form the facades of the square – and continuing to meet traffic and parking needs were also paramount. For example, the renovation extended to the adjacent square 'De Kleine Markt', the hard and soft roads around it and a supplementary new car park to relieve the pressure on De Markt. The building blocks of the architecture of De Markt will be a stone floor, a water point, new square furniture, green interventions and targeted lighting.
The market square was redesigned in a carpet of natural stone tiles that draw abstract patterns. The complex stone puzzle consists of eleven sizes and shows three different textures: bush-hammered, flamed, chiseled. The tiles come from the quarries of the French Comblanchien: their close origin contributes to a remarkable sustainability of the project. The tapestry was aligned symmetrically on the central axis of the town hall with the historic fountain in its lap. In order to highlight the rich history of the place even more, this fountain, donated by Louis XIV to the city of Oudenaarde in the 17th century, was restored and reinstated as a central element on the square. A dynamic water surface with spouts and nebulizers was installed around the fountain.
De Kleine Markt, located in the armpit of the Sint-Walburga church and surrounded by terraces of cafes and restaurants, has a more intimate atmosphere. Several new seating options are provided here. On the market square, a good balance was sought between a quiet traffic-free zone in front of the town hall and the remaining space available for parking. This resulted in a partial relocation of the original car park to a new parking building – Meerspoort car park – just outside the city center. A good connection to and from the market was of course crucial.
In collaboration with Atelier Roland Jéol from Lyon (FR), a lighting plan was drawn up in which the monuments Walburga church and town hall are illuminated together with the square facades. The historic fountain was also given a unique lighting concept. The lighting plan makes the newly constructed Grand Place an attractive place to be in the evenings too.
Curious to see the Market in motion? Watch the timelapse of the works on Vimeo! https://vimeo.com/228961115"