The historic city centre of Waregem was expanded with a commercial centre in the 1960s. It was built as an elevated pedestrian platform on top of a large parking garage. Staircases and elevators provide access to the carpark located at ground level, while a number of openings were planted with trees. The platform ended abruptly, waiting for a next phase.
Fifty years later, the project for the ‘Zuidboulevard’ completes this unfinished modernist project. A gently sloped esplanade reconnects the elevated pedestrian centre with the ground floor, where a new library has been built. Underneath this incline, a new parking level has been constructed. Two generous staircases are planted with large trees and provide easy access. These openings guarantee natural ventilation; they allow zenithal light and offer a clear point of orientation in the garage. The two staircases face each other in order to create a scenic promenade through the parking garage, as if the public space of the boulevard had been folded into the parking level.
The trees are planted in the unusable triangular volume of the staircases, which act as giant planters. This allowed the roof package of the deck to be kept as light as possible. Two playful elements are added on the roof. A raised rectangular lawn is retained by a bench. Sixty water jets are integrated within the slim roof package with the water flowing down the incline. This water element has become a successful attraction for kids in summer. Large lighting poles illuminate the boulevard, made out of bricks typical of the clay soil of the region.
Together with the historic centre around the church and the elevated deck of the commercial centre, the project for the Zuidboulevard and its new library creates a true triptych of public spaces and functions for the city of Waregem.