Hans Ooms

Hans Ooms

OPERASQUARE. PHL Diepenbeek (Belgium)

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OPERASQUARE: (re)densifying urban space

The intention of this project lies in the (re)densifying of an open urban space by using the underground. Creating a new city layer where the street level disappears as a spatial border. All negative existing functions and moving dynamics on the committed ground move underground and make place for a vacuum in the city. A pure, white vacuum that offers a frame to the busy city life.

The opera square in Antwerp is the place on which this concept was applied. This square had been formerly characterized by an abundance of flows, indicators and functions as a result of which the existing quality of life was minimal. The (re)densifying of this square ensures that she can fulfill its original aim again as a square in front of the opera. By a manipulation of the street level, slit openings arises and give access to the underground functions. By mixing certain typologies the citizen runs unsuspectingly to the underworld.

An extension of the existing Flemish opera forms the articulation point of this project. Under a big urban slit, this part of the building is accessible and connected seamlessly to the passing urban pedestrian flow. This confrontation obtains the term opera from its protecting shell and generates a common area between the modern citizen and traditional opera music. Around this extension, several manners of transport develop themselves. Both public transportation and the cars, which drive trough a tunnel. This tunnel is not only a tunnel, but also an architectural element ‘floating' in the underground space whit people running over it. The interaction between these several functions generates a spatial dynamic. She gives an individual architectural character to the underground spaces and it makes the citizens stay in the underground more attractive.
The new town layer does not only reinforce the existing city structure, but also the neighboring building blocks by integrating them.
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