A spatial vision for the area around the Dampoort station in Gent was requested within the framework of an invited competition. This assignment had two apparently hardly reconcilable aims. On the one hand, the necessity to ensure the functioning of the complex traffic intersection and, on the other hand, giving shape to the location between suburb and centre as an attractive area and a high-quality public transport interchange.
The plan comprises a framework of public spaces that unties the existing Dampoort traffic knot. First of all, new connections are to spread the volume of traffic. Secondly, the vehicle traffic connection between Dampoort and the city centre is cut out of the network, which provides space for a high-quality pedestrian and cycle connection between city and station.
All that makes room to spatially separate the network of public transport lines from the road traffic and to optimise the Dampoort public transport interchange (train, bus and tram).
The execution of the framework can be phased and ancillary development projects can be carried out independently from the infrastructure. A large elongated public space will be left open in the centre of the plan area. First and foremost, this ‘elongated emptiness’ introduces space into the area by means of diagonal sight lines and makes the individual neighbourhoods around the present Dampoort interchange visible to one another.
The new urban space between the Dampoort interchange together with the future southern underpass and the entrance to the station enhance the spatial clarity of the position of the Dampoort station as a pivot in the circulation structure. This not only functionally untangles the current Dampoort knot but also puts it spatially at ease.