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Strolling on the new green sea dike at Westende!

The first phase of the green coastal protection in Westende is almost finished and ready for the coming summer season! It is wonderful to stroll among the newly planted marram grasses in this award-winning design. In autumn, the works will continue with the construction of the stilling wave basin (SWB) in the commercial center of Westende.

About the project

Due to climate change, the safety of the North Sea region is at risk. The Coastal Department of the Flemish Government (Agentschap Maritieme Dienstverlening en Kust) has therefore developed a Coastal Safety Master Plan. This plan includes the technical and architectural design for the redevelopment of the sea defence in Middelkerke and Westende. In consultation with the municipality, the existing sea dikes will be upgraded with a stilling wave basin (SWB) in the commercial zones and a green sea dike with sand replenishment and marram grasses elsewhere.

A Joint Venture between SBE, MOP-JUNO, Plantec and Cluster won the design competition with a sustainable, unique and innovative design without compromising the technical requirements. With the submitted proposal, the team intends to use the renewal of the sea dike to put Middelkerke and Westende on the map (again) as a lovely tourist spot.

Creating a visual experience at the sea bund

In the first phase of the project (winter season 2020-2021), the green sea dike west of the commercial center of Westende was finished. In this zone, maximum efforts were made to include more green with a future-oriented ‘soft’ sea defence. The walking trail in between the newly planted marram grass offers an optimal experience.

This fall (winter season 2021-2022) the works will continue with the construction of the SWB in the commercial center of Westende. The design of this ‘hard’ sea defence SWB is based on three spatial principles were to enhance the visual experience of the sea and the beach:

  • The visual disconnection of the SWB from the existing sea dike and promenade by means of a 5 m wide zone with dune vegetation;
  • The reorganization of the beach activities by means of a rhythmic zoning in longitudinal and transverse direction;
  • A structuring redesign of the promenade with a clear zoning of the terraces and the areas for pedestrians.

With this vision, the team considers the SWB to be an integral part of the beach environment rather than a mere expansion of the existing sea dike. This concept is translated in the materialization, coloring and planting structure of the SWB. This way, the SWB will seamlessly connect with the green sea defence zones east and west of the commercial center to create a new experience of the seawall in Westende.

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