Our research started
 in-between time


We were invited by Designregio
to think about the future of urban leisure.

In this context, we quickly compiled a set of maps
that dig deep in the far past of Kortrijk.

Suddenly, the present revealed the link.
As we visited the Wildebras︎︎,
we learned that a moated farmstead
used to stand where the self-run,
parent-free adventure park is now.

We then found similar spaces throughout the city.

Are historic Islands the future of Kortrijk?




























In the mid-19th century
Kortrijk countryside was filled
with moated homesteads,
many of which were farms.

Around 1850 we identified some
500 of them, at an average distance
of 1.5 kilometers away from each other.
That results in a density of about
one moated farming settlement
per square Kilometer in Kortrijk’s region.

The ‘inland’ varies in size and
can be relatively big so as
to accommodate several parcels,
or particularly small containing
only one building.


Around 1600, Kortrijk itself
was composed of several fortified islands
The shaping of the watersystem
keeps being an on-going project.

Ever since medieval times,
farms in Kortrijk constructed moats
around them that served social
and defensive purposes;
keeping out unwanted visitors
and expressing the social status
of the farmstead.
The water was also used
for production purposes.

These Homesteads were part of
a hierarchy of authority
that allowed for the governance
of the Flanders countryside.










 Individual vs   
 collective farming


Agriculture in Kortrijk is based on individual farming :
farming families residing in spread out settlements.
In other cultures around the world
where collective farming is predominant,
it is more common to see farming villages
rather than isolated settlements.





 West-Flemish
 cultural landscape


This spread-out individual farming system
seems to be a particularity for the west Flemish region
and is translated through particular spatial, social and
economic practices in the countryside
.








 



Many of these moated homesteads since disappeared
with the creation of big infrastructures [railway, highway]
or the urbanizationof large mono-programmatic areas 
[all-residential, all-industrial].

Today, though, we can still discover
old islands hidden all around.