The enormous expansion of industrial areas since the 80s until the economic crisis of 2008 has had a major impact on the landscape. The current economic situation, the aging population and climate change are circumstances which should be used to properly think through how we should deal with our business sites in the future.
The municipality of Hulst is under the influence of large industrial areas such as the port of Antwerp and the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. This means that, due to the low price of land, the area is interesting for companies to settle. The companies are mainly sheds for storage or transport and have little relationship to the centre of Hulst. The industrial estates in the area are often intensively used during labor and have a mono-functional use. In the current economic climate the unstable and decreasing number of companies often results in fallow land. The unused land costs money and results in an unattractive picture. According to OTO, business areas could be linked with the landscape by introducing a new typology: the business estate.
The inspiration for this business estate draws from the design of the original estate, a fruitful combination of living, working and recreation. Within the business estate, infrastructure is included in a solid structure of tree-lined avenues and watercourses. Within the woodlands, companies are located in different “chambers”. Fallow land is planted with energy crops like Willow or Miscanthus. This biomass provides the estate with energy and at the same time a green appearance. Depending on the interest, the energy crops are to be replaced by companies. By linking bicycle, rollerblading, hiking and sailing routes to the estate, the area receives a recreational use outside working hours. The business estate is extremely effective and flexible and thus providing both an economic and recreational impulse in the landscape.