Natuurcentrum Zwin Knokke-Heist

Competition design for a master plan for a nature reserve with visitor centre, observation post and nature tourist facilities.

Existing landscape entities such as the Zwin plains, dike, poplar lane and Kleyne Vlakte serve as starting points for a new, integrated landscape design.

At the Zwin park site, two separate woods are connected by means of three piers in a body of water. In the first wood, bird housing is central - both controlled and uncontrolled. Walking infrastructure takes the shape of big loops. A walkway along the canopy of the trees provides visitors with new perspectives. The second wood is an activities zone, where an explorative methodology of nature education is applied.

The existing poplar lane is deduplicated into a strip that serves to organise mobility infrastructure as well as all the buildings on the site. The first pavilion accommodates the rooms dedicated to green space management and wild bird care and caretaker’s accommodation. The second building houses a tourist reception area and attractions for nature tourists and as well as reception facilities, an exhibition room, an auditorium, the Zwin shop, a restaurant and a cafeteria. Accommodation for nature exploration occupies the third part of this strip, in the shape of a series of (4 person-) bedrooms lining a green inner courtyard. The last pavilion accommodates the centre’s management offices and a couple of nature education classrooms.

Access to the Zwin plains is facilitated by the observation centre, which is entrenched like a subtle version of a bunker into the dike separating Zwin park from the plains.

client Province of West-Vlaanderen, Agentschap Natuur en Bos
location Knokke-Heist, Belgium
period 2010-2011
procedure competition
surface 18 200 m²
team Lieven Achtergael, Kris Huysmans, Vincent De Keyser, Sander Verhanneman, Jeffrey Berghman, Kris Broidioi, Pauline De Schryver, Rein Bultynck, Pietter Lansens, Ida Lievens
i.c.w. Sien (scenography design), Bailleul Ontwerpbureau (scenography design), Hyl Paysagistes (landscape design), Antea Group (structural and MEP engineering, landscape study), Ney + Partners (bird housing design and study), Building for the Future (BREEAM study), Stéphane Beel