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The stratification of nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a park and a sewer as two poles of development in a new quarter for the city

Birgit Cleppe UGent (2010) Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader.
abstract
In 1905 the city-engineer Victor Compyn presents the project for the allotment of the ‘Muinkmeersen’, partly on the grounds of the former zoological garden of Ghent. He structures the residential areas around two components. In the north we find a square, the ‘Muinkpark’, that is in fact a small remnant of the zoological garden. In the south, the Oude Schelde is being filled up and substituted by a sewer. There, Compyn plans a star-shaped street pattern that consists of two diagonal streets and one central north-south oriented axis that connects the square with the junction of the southern streets. With the filling up of the Oude Schelde, the last testimony of the former ‘natural’ hydrography of the Muinkmeersen had disappeared. Or not entirely, for the ‘course’ of the Tentoonstellingslaan – one of the two diagonal streets in the south – almost completely equals that of the filled up branch of the Schelde. Like zoological gardens and municipal parks, networked infrastructures for sewerage and drinking water can be understood as urban constructs of nature. Each in its own way, they display the ambition to canalize nature in a concentrated and systematical way in order to give shape to a severely controlled urban landscape. By exhibiting its gratifying components in zoological gardens, public parks, and the conscious planting of avenues on the one hand, and by hiding and diverting its disagreeable properties underground on the other, nature is being deliberately stratified into a visible and an invisible pole. In the case of the Dierentuinwijk these two poles are explicitly deployed to give shape and meaning to a newly built part of the city. During the Belle Epoque, city engineers, urban planners and theorists were particularly concerned about a rather ‘picturesque’ approach, where the presence of nature was manipulated in order to intensify the experience of the city. Many among them were present at the Premier Congrès International et Exposition Comparée des Villes, held in Ghent in 1913. Lectures were held by Raymond Unwin, Charles Buls, Joseph Stübben, Louis Vander Swaelmen, and also by engineer Alphonse Soenen who had formerly collaborated with Compyn, drawing a plan that indicated the vaulted and filled up waterways of Ghent. Through the specific case of the Compyn project for the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent, this paper intends to examine whether the implementation of underground infrastructures can be read as an equivalent counterpart of other constructs of nature in the city, such as municipal parks and planted avenues. It questions to what extent the filtering away of nature – especially waterways – is applied as a means of manipulation of nature and the urban landscape. Therefore, the paper will not only discuss the project of Victor Compyn, but will also confront it with the general discourses of the picturesque-minded contemporaries of Compyn at the time.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
in
Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader
pages
18 pages
publisher
Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
place of publication
Ghent, Belgium
conference name
19th Joint doctoral seminar in Theory and History of Architecture
conference location
Ghent, Belgium
conference start
2010-12-23
conference end
2010-12-23
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1093554
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1093554
alternative location
http://www.architectuur.ugent.be/downloads/website/pdf/101215_JDS19_bundle.pdf
date created
2011-01-03 14:23:04
date last changed
2017-01-02 09:52:19
@inproceedings{1093554,
  abstract     = {In 1905 the city-engineer Victor Compyn presents the project for the allotment of the {\textquoteleft}Muinkmeersen{\textquoteright}, partly on the grounds of the former zoological garden of Ghent. He structures the residential areas around two components. In the north we find a square, the {\textquoteleft}Muinkpark{\textquoteright}, that is in fact a small remnant of the zoological garden. In the south, the Oude Schelde is being filled up and substituted by a sewer. There, Compyn plans a star-shaped street pattern that consists of two diagonal streets and one central north-south oriented axis that connects the square with the junction of the southern streets. With the filling up of the Oude Schelde, the last testimony of the former {\textquoteleft}natural{\textquoteright} hydrography of the Muinkmeersen had disappeared. Or not entirely, for the {\textquoteleft}course{\textquoteright} of the Tentoonstellingslaan -- one of the two diagonal streets in the south -- almost completely equals that of the filled up branch of the Schelde. 
Like zoological gardens and municipal parks, networked infrastructures for sewerage and drinking water can be understood as urban constructs of nature. Each in its own way, they display the ambition to canalize nature in a concentrated and systematical way in order to give shape to a severely controlled urban landscape. By exhibiting its gratifying components in zoological gardens, public parks, and the conscious planting of avenues on the one hand, and by hiding and diverting its disagreeable properties underground on the other, nature is being deliberately stratified into a visible and an invisible pole. In the case of the Dierentuinwijk these two poles are explicitly deployed to give shape and meaning to a newly built part of the city.
During the Belle Epoque, city engineers, urban planners and theorists were particularly concerned about a rather {\textquoteleft}picturesque{\textquoteright} approach, where the presence of nature was manipulated in order to intensify the experience of the city. Many among them were present at the Premier Congr{\`e}s International et Exposition Compar{\'e}e des Villes, held in Ghent in 1913. Lectures were held by Raymond Unwin, Charles Buls, Joseph St{\"u}bben, Louis Vander Swaelmen, and also by engineer Alphonse Soenen who had formerly collaborated with Compyn, drawing a plan that indicated the vaulted and filled up waterways of Ghent. Through the specific case of the Compyn project for the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent, this paper intends to examine whether the implementation of underground infrastructures can be read as an equivalent counterpart of other constructs of nature in the city, such as municipal parks and planted avenues. It questions to what extent the filtering away of nature -- especially waterways -- is applied as a means of manipulation of nature and the urban landscape.  Therefore, the paper will not only discuss the project of Victor Compyn, but will also confront it with the general discourses of the picturesque-minded contemporaries of Compyn at the time.},
  author       = {Cleppe, Birgit},
  booktitle    = {Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Ghent, Belgium},
  pages        = {18},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning},
  title        = {The stratification of nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a park and a sewer as two poles of development in a new quarter for the city},
  url          = {http://www.architectuur.ugent.be/downloads/website/pdf/101215\_JDS19\_bundle.pdf},
  year         = {2010},
}

Chicago
Cleppe, Birgit. 2010. “The Stratification of Nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a Park and a Sewer as Two Poles of Development in a New Quarter for the City.” In Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint Doctoral Seminar, Reader. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning.
APA
Cleppe, B. (2010). The stratification of nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a park and a sewer as two poles of development in a new quarter for the city. Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader. Presented at the 19th Joint doctoral seminar in Theory and History of Architecture, Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Vancouver
1.
Cleppe B. The stratification of nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a park and a sewer as two poles of development in a new quarter for the city. Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint doctoral seminar, Reader. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning; 2010.
MLA
Cleppe, Birgit. “The Stratification of Nature in the Dierentuinwijk of Ghent: a Park and a Sewer as Two Poles of Development in a New Quarter for the City.” Theory and History of Architecture, 19th Joint Doctoral Seminar, Reader. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, 2010. Print.