‘t Zand

Bruges, BE

At 8,500m2, ‘t Zand is the largest public square in the historic city of Bruges. The square hosts over 200 events per year and is an important link in the city’s network of public spaces.

West 8’s design solution offers a renewed identity for the square, unearthing a full-fledged ‘Bruges’ character that draws on the rich historical, cultural and scenic layers of ‘t Zand. Subtle emphasis is placed on several existing spatial characteristics to restore the original identity of the square.

The urban evolution of ‘t Zand had seen it undergo a series of transformations. A succession of interventions: railway lines, road infrastructure, and a vaulted canal resulted in gradual separation of the square from the surrounding medieval urban fabric.

The redesign focuses on extending the experience of the adjacent green King Albert I Park, and thus embedding the iconic Concert Hall (Concertgebouw) in a more natural context. Double rows of Linden trees around the square create a sense of intimacy, whilst preserving its open character. The trees provide a scenic corridor and functional zone for terraces, bicycles and entrances to the underground parking. A new water patio reinvigorates the historic canal. A subtle material/colour palette and the use of quality natural stone complements the subdued tones of the city center.

The plan significantly reduces vehicular traffic. The gaping void at tunnel entrance near Smedenstraat is filled with a building. The proposed new building helps frame the square by enclosing it on all four sides. The square’s lighting elements have been developed together with Atelier Roland-Jéol.

West 8’s winning competition entry of 2015 for the redesign of ‘t Zand, titled The Square of 150 Lindens’, was according to the 11 person jury ”revolutionary in its simplicity.’’ ‘t Zand reopened in 2018.