a2o Hasselt

Vissersstraat 2

B-3500 Hasselt


a2o Brussel

Timmerhoutkaai 4

B–1000 Brussel


T. 0032 11 26 03 30

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Basilica of Scherpenheuvel

Design and execution of a public space

Scherpenheuvel, Belgium

2007-2011, built

Town council Scherpenheuvel

a2o-omgeving - Hagelands opmetings- en studieburo (HOSBUR)

The 17th century Basilica of Scherpenheuvel is one of the most well-known shrines of pilgrimage in Flanders. The development of the center of the municipality of Scherpenheuvel has historically been defined by the dominant presence of the iconic building on the top of the hill.

 a2o developed a strategy for the redevelopment of the public space in the city center based on different narratives.

The narrative of the landscape carefully explains how the specific topographical conditions have continued to define the public use and development of the site. The landscape is inseparably connected to the very existence of Scherpenheuvel (or ‘steep hill’ in Flemish). The design is reintegrating the hill, as a specific topographical condition in Flanders,  in the public space. Through selected panoramas over the landscape, the visitor is once again aware of Scherpenheuvel’s position in its surroundings.

A second narrative addresses the urban characteristics of the square and its immediate surroundings. New paved surfaces are carefully embedded. At the western side a continuous space is created in relation to the main façade of the basilica. This continuous space mediates between a traditional road and an open square. In the east, a green garden is reconnects the basilica with  the agricultural hinterland.

Thirdly, the socio-cultural narrative as a place of pilgrimage and relation is considered. Through different trajectories, the design accommodates to both the religious and sacred experience as to the touristic and commercial activity.

We have created  a space which intermingles the agricultural landscape with the extraordinary urban use as a religious and historic destination. Spatial strategies blend with specific socio-cultural uses.

Basilica of Scherpenheuvel Basilica of Scherpenheuvel Basilica of Scherpenheuvel
Basilica of Scherpenheuvel Basilica of Scherpenheuvel Basilica of Scherpenheuvel Basilica of Scherpenheuvel