study for the redevelopment of a historic site into a touristic heritage centrality
Alden Biesen, Belgium
2002-2012, Masterplan, design and execution
The Landcommandery Alden Biesen presents itself as a ‘historic and cultural centre’ with a ‘seminar and conference centre’, a (cultural) tourist attraction and a meeting point for international networking. This translates into a location with an easily accessible, varied and complex (building) programme and a permanent and sometimes paradoxical interaction between the past and the present.
Commissioned by the Flemish Community, a2o was selected after an appeal to draw up a master plan for the development of the Alden Biesen location. This master plan includes “drafting a vision for an overall approach to which both present and future interventions in Alden Biesen can be related, in order to be able to add a meaningful layer to this historic site”. (Quoted from the brief.)
Our objective was to add coherence and interpretability within a multifunctional and accessible Alden Biesen. The plan was based on a number of general principles of unlocking the heritage, translating these into concrete terms for this monument, this historic site and this exceptional landscape.
The plan assumes that a heritage visit is first and foremost an experience. Visitors must be given the opportunity of visual and tactile – in short, sensory – contact with the monument. The experience of the sense of place, the character of the location, the aura of the poetry of the monument take a central position.