Leopoldskazerne Gent

Closed barracks becomes open provincial hall and new city centre

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From citadel to Citadelpark
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Dutch rulers built a large raised citadel to defend Ghent against the threatening armies of Napoleon. From 1870 onwards, this stronghold made way for a large park with the appropriate name ‘Citadel Park’. It was given its present form for the 1913 World Fair and today houses the Museum of Fine Arts, the SMAK and the ICC.

Arming the barracks against time
The actual barracks in the park were built in a romanticising eclectic style around 1900, but they fell into disuse after the Second World War. The city of Ghent bought some of the buildings to house the HISK (Higher Institute of Fine Arts) among others. The other part, still owned by the Belgian army, houses the province command of Oost-Vlaanderen. The whole site is now protected, but it is in urgent need of a new, sustainable destination.

A melting pot for all urban functions
Because its services are spread over the city, the Province of East Flanders is investing in the conversion of the barracks into a central provincial building with its own bar and restaurant. The Province awarded the contract to a design team of B2Ai, 360 Architects and Sergison Bates Architects, which worked with Matexi, DMI and Democo for the construction itself. The reason she gave was that our design testifies to a future-oriented vision of important urban functions such as living space for all generations, green space, culture and sustainable tourism. The client appreciated the central sunken patio as an eye-catcher for this condensed city node, where all functions will reinforce each other for countless years.

“Turned inside out to the city”

The main thrust of our master plan: throwing the original military stronghold completely open to the outside world. All buildings and open spaces will have their own place in local life. In this way, the empty paved square becomes a neighbourhood park and one of the most vibrant places in the city. The 120 ingeniously integrated residential units will now have a front door in the barracks wall on the street. There will also be working and living space, an experience hotel and the art college HISK, united around a sunken patio that increases the feeling of space even more.

“An open provincial house for East Flanders and the future”

At the famous head of the complex on the Charles de Kerchhovelaan the wall is almost completely broken open. An inner garden leads to the new provincial house with reception and cafeteria, the various administrative services and the meeting rooms for the provincial council and the deputation. Further on are the logistics services, the lending service, the archive, the depot space and an underlying car park. Together they account for 30,000 m² of facilities, some of which may also be open to third parties. Symbolic for the whole project: the green courtyard garden visually reaches out to the Citadelpark.



Mixed urban project

Conception phase

Floor area
57.600 m²

Client: Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen Gebouwen
Project developper: DMI Vastgoed nv, Matexi nv and Democo
Architect: B2Ai, 360 architecten, Sergison Bates architects
Interior Architecture: B2Ai (residential part)
Stability: Democo, Sweco
Techniques: 3E, Ingenium, Crea-Tec, Antea Group
BREEAM & integral sustainability: 3E
Landscape: Delva Landscape Architects