Gijs Van Vaerenbergh

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Forest Track

In Diepenbeek, a forest track was designed for the natural area enclosed by the university campus. The site acts as a flood plain and has traditionally had a canal structure that helps accommodate water fluctuations. On the higher dry stretches, feral forest areas are located. The new raised path meanders through this varied marshy area.

One of the important principles was to work around the existing nature, removing as few trees as possible. The path was thus led to several places in a whimsical shape that was folded around the trees. The route and this irregular movement create a differentiated experience: one walks along the “willow edge,” along a pond, as well as through different “forest rooms.” While the willow edge gives rise to distant perspectives, the forest chambers form rather enclosed clearings in the densely wooded area.

The path rises above the marshy ground and takes a meandering route. On the one hand, this makes for a more deliberate experience of the natural area; on the other, it makes for a more varied experience. The elevated path is whimsically designed based on a series of curved lines, giving rise to distance from the trees. In certain places, the path widens to define a resting space. The curved lines consist of a metal structure and describe a random tile pattern in washed-out concrete. Shortcuts are also provided in the form of stepping stones.

This meandering elevated path brings the various users of the university campus into contact with the natural area in a new way. They are deliberately diverted through special places so that there is a kind of slowness and conscious experience of this feral area. Nature is staged through the route, the elevated path, and the views that are framed.

POM Limburg


UHasselt Campus Diepenbeek, Belgium

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