School environment Elzestraat, St. Katelijne-Waver

The Elzestraat in St. Katelijne-Waver is the village’s central street, with a church, parish hall, catering establishments and a school. The public space largely focused on the flow of vehicular traffic, with school-aged children navigating their way in the margins. A large-scale renovation of the village centre revamped the school environment and transformed Elzestraat from a transit area to a residential area.

Schoolchildren had to make their way to school along the busy street with many obstacles and no safe infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. Reason enough for the municipality to tackle the school environment as a priority during the 2017-2018 village centre renovation. The combination of a smart design with raised squares and new regulations, including the introduction of a ‘30 zone’, brought about a change in the dominant position of the car. Parking spaces within a radius of 150 metres from the school gates were replaced by an awning with generous bicycle parking space. In addition, space was provided to park cargo bicycles and a kiss-and-ride zone was incorporated. An existing green strip was turned into a garden.
The development of the school street is not an isolated event, but is embedded in the surrounding landscape and character of the village. The design focuses on space for encounters, play and environmental quality in strategic places. The design is based on the idea that mobility can only change sustainably if there is a permanent sense that the car is a guest. In Elzestraat, this is achieved by frequently interrupting the driving lane, which is interspersed with a series of small squares.

innovative aspects
cultural change

An ode to the soft road user
The redesign of Elzestraat radically broke with the sovereignty of the dominant car, in favour of the soft road user. Schoolchildren benefit from a safe school environment in a green oasis providing room for play and encounters.

Elzestraat school environment
articleElzestraat school environment
By reorganising a number of strategic public spaces, Sint-Katelijne-Waver wants to revitalise its four village centres. By banning car traffic as much as possible from the school area on Elzestraat, the village square will once again become a place for meeting people and having fun.

Elzestraat school environment

photo: Infopunt Publieke Ruimte, 2019