The Rector De Somerplein is one of the central squares in Leuven. The square was previously cluttered and fragmented, in the middle of recently upgraded public areas such as the Grote Markt, the Martelarenplein and the Bondgenotenlaan. The design for the reconstruction has restored the balance of the residential function and experiential value of the area, taking into account the high functional requirements of urban public transport.
Clients: City of Leuven, Vlaamse
Vervoermaatschappij - De Lijn
Period: 2009 - 2013
Partner: Ney & Partners
The design is an architectural balancing act between combining the historic surroundings with the forming of its own identity. A lot of attention was paid to the preservation of the square as an open residential space. The traffic situation has changed considerably. The stop for public transport has been given an important position and this required careful integration into the urban environment. The former compact bus stop was stretched, but the room for traffic itself was severely constricted. Automobile traffic is now almost completely excluded. This way, space was gained whereby the residential function could be reinforced.
With perception and social safety as basic principles, an open, underground bicycle park has been created with lots of glass and natural light. Spacious staircases were incorporated on both sides in the design, which connect to the glazing. The northern staircase looks like an amphitheatre. Designed that way so that the staircase is pleasant to sit on.
Photo: © Tom D’haenens