COLAND Case Study 2020 - Middelkerke

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Area Middelkerke
Place Middelkerke, West-Flanders
Country Belgium
Topics Ecosystem changes, Climate Change, public awareness, coastal infrastructure
Author(s) Mana Taheri, Anna Maria Järvsalu, Maziar Bisheban, Alexandra Lungu, Ioana Popa, Eliza Runceanu


  • Why do you think this case is relevant? What is your hypothesis considering the landscape challenges?

This case is relevant because it is a seasonal tourist attraction and it has three strongly distinctive landscape patterns- semi-natural wide coastline, and artificial urban and agricultural patterns, which are affected because of people. Artificiality and existence of man brings out challenges in biodiversity, soils, water, and marine environment. The coast is most sensitive to floods, erosion, and eutrophication.

Location and scope

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A Landscape System Analysis

A.1 Landscape layers and their system context

Geomorphology, landscape units and coastal typology

  • Description of evolution, status quo and driving forces, is the coastal typology changing? Why is that? (approx 200 signs)
  • add 1-2 graphical representations to the image gallery, you can add more if you like

Land use

  • settlements, infrastructure, agriculture, resource extraction, natural areas, energy production...
  • description of evolution, status quo and driving forces, is the land use likely to change? Why is that? (approx 200 signs)
  • add 1-2 graphical representations to the image gallery, you can add more if you like

Green/blue infrastructure

  • What are the major potential elements of a green/blue infrastructure network? Are these likely to change/disappear? Why is that?
  • Green area
  • Normandpark
  • agricultural field
  • Blue area
  • Minigolf Mistral
  • Minigolf Westend
  • Vijver Normandpark
  • Kalkaert

One of the most dominant green/blue infrastructures at Middlekerke can be found along the coastline. The Middlekerke s beach line is the longest in Belgium. It contains sand beaches. Residents and tourists can experience nature in this way. There are a Hiking trail from Middelkerke-Westende and Statues of cartoon characters and Cinema on the beach. It may affect the infrastructures of this green and blue. Tides and storms can affect also. Normandpark is A green infrastructure in the center of Middelkerke. It is located near the beach. The pond of Normandpark was redone in a sustainable way. This area is really comfortable for enjoying the nature in the center of Middlekerke.In addition, there are lots of agricultural fields that can be considered as green infrastructure.

Actors and stakeholders

  • Who is driving changes in this landscape? Who is affected by those changes?
  • Draw a stakeholder and/or power map: Who is affected highly but with low power? Who has high power but is not affected?

Sacred spaces and heritage

  • Which places/elements hold cultural value and to whom?

Middelkerke is rich by its architectural heritage. Beautiful street views have characterized the town from the 19th century. Although the town has modernized you can see the hints of the city's historic architectural value through the Townhall, Traction station, Saint Theresa Chapel and through hotels, villas and even garage. The second most important value of the place is the train connection between Knokke and De Panne. That's the reason why seaside tourism in the area has been popular since World War I. These values are important to the citizens and tourists by its beauty and formed network.

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • Which elements are essential for the landscape character?

In Middelkerke, the coast and the sea play a central role. It contains sand beaches of about nine kilometers long which are connected by a boulevard and have characteristic features with its urban area and agricultural land behind.

  • Has the landscape been painted or otherwise depicted, when and whom? Which elements are essential?

Many painters illustrated the interesting coastal landscape the colorful sea, and the nice urban view. Pierre Stefani (France, born 1938) depicted where people are enjoying in the summertime and where beach shows low sea tide. Claude Hardenne (France- 1946) depicted the colorful sea at the age of 16.

  • Which narratives exist? Who has written about this landscape or depicted it in some way?

The story of Middelkerke: Middelkerke seaside town equipped with Hotels, apartments, villas, cafes, restaurants, and beaches, as well as situated in dunes and polders. The polders perfectly suit for walks or bike and skeeters tour through an overwhelming landscape. Beach facilities and public facilities like tram are also located within the coastal area. The first reference of Middelkerke is found in 1218. Before 1867 it mainly was farming settlements. One of the first world images of this area can be found on the map of the first world war by the war office and also a picture that shows the first world war in 1914 to 1918 that is taken by Chronicle.

Whether to see the street view about 100 years ago and now you can see how drastically the image of the city has changed. Diverse architecture has been changed to a modern gray cubic wall, where nothing distinct.

A.2 Summary of your landscape system analysis and your development targets

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being; Good health and well-being are always important for inhabitants. Because of the population growth and tourism, it is necessary to keep under control the social wealth and economy, to deal with an aging society and keep it in balance with modern worldviews. Also, more free tourism could bring problems to deal with, like diseases, cultural and safety issues, etc.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (Bike, walk or use public transportation); Although in Middelkerke there is a good pedestrian, bike and public transportation network near the coast it is important to keep them maintained and deal with infrastructure consciously taking in consideration that in Middelkerke the season lasts only 2-3 months.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (recycled paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum); Due to the season lasts only 2-3 months in a year it is good to have sustainable waste development in the season and off the season. Production of single-use waste and overproduction are the things to work with.

Goal 13: Climate action; Cause the Climate Change and Global Warming is a well-known issue in all over the world, it affects also Belgium. It has to been taken into consideration that the coastal area and the town probably will be affected by floods, strong storms and winds and other changes in climate. The seasons could also be changing every year, longer autumn and spring and shorter summer and winter, etc.

Goal 14: Life Below Water; Because of agricultural chemicals, the state of water bodies is affected. Strong rains could cause eutrophication in ditches and rivers and that causes water quality to fall in connected waterbodies.

Goal 15: Life on Land; Because of the dense urban and agricultural area, the diversity of ecology is at risk. It is important to support existing biodiversity and create opportunities with greeneries to increase it.

  • What is your hypothesis for this landscape?

Middelkerke is a dynamic town because of tourism. Tourism growth will affect the ecosystem because more tourism means more facilities and capacity for tourism attractions. To ensure the capacity the town needs more energy for production. More production increases the artificiality in the coast and agricultural land, and creating new and modern will lose the importance of history.

  • Visualise your hypothesis with one graphic/pict
  • Are there any existing initiatives taking action in this landscape? Do you have a critical perspective on that?

In the Middelkerke case is that they are not interested in keeping the nature and heritage of attraction for people. Instead, they want to keep their economy with seasonal events like Comic festival, market, and occasional music festivals. It causes seasonal overproduction and pollution which will change the environment and culture.

A.3 Theory reflection

  • Reflect on at least three international policy documents in relation to their local landscape case
  • choose one international, one European and one national document
  • You can choose references from our reading list
  • Scope: 250 words

A.4 References

Sacred spaces and heritage

Agency for Heritage Heritage 2020: Town hall of Middelkerke [online] (19-02-2020)

T.T.O.-Noordzee vzw [online] (19-02-2020)

Agency for Heritage Heritage 2020: Tramway [online] (19-02-2020)

Agency for Heritage Heritage 2020: Traction Station [online] (19-02-2020)

Agency for Cultural Heritage 2020: Sint-Theresiakapel [online] (19-02-2020)

Openchurches: Sint-Theresia [online] (19-02-2020)

Agency for Heritage Heritage 2020: Hotel Continental [online] (02-02-2020)

Agency for Heritage Heritage 2020: Heritage objects in Middlekerke [online] (02-02-2020)

Phase B: Landscape Evaluation and Assessment

B.1 Assessment Strategy

  • Based on the hypothesis derived from your previous landscape systems analysis you are now asked to define the goals for assessing the landscape. Your assessment is the basis for evaluating the landscape status.
  • Which elements and phenomena need to be mapped, why and how?
  • This a text contribution, max 250 words

B.2 Mapping

  • As defined by your assessment strategy you conduct the mapping and present your findings here
  • As a minimum, at least three different themes need to be mapped, you may choose more if needed

B.3 Problem definition and priority setting

  • Give a summary of the major findings of your mapping process, what are the problems/potentials identified?
  • Draw a problems/potentials map
  • Set priorities for the most relevant issues

B.4 Theory reflection

  • Please reflect the assessment and evaluation methods used based on at least three readings
  • Did you encounter limitations'
  • 200 words test contribution

B.5 References

  • give a full list of the references you have used for this section

Phase C – Strategy and Master Plan

C.1 Goal Setting

  • Define strategic planning objectives based on the evaluation findings
  • Link back to your original targets from section one and the Development Goals
  • 150 words text contribution

C.2 Spatial Strategy and Transect

  • translate your strategic goals into a vision
  • develop a spatial translation of your vision
  • exemplify your vision in the form of a transect with concrete interventions
  • add map(s) and visualizations

C.3 From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • For implementing your vision: Which partnerships are needed? Which governance model is required?
  • Who needs to act and how? Draw and explain a change/process model/timeline
  • Which resources are needed? On which assets can you build?
  • add 150 words text and visuals

C.4 References

  • give a full list of the references you have used for this section

D. Process Reflection

  • Reflect in your intercultural and interdisciplinary team on the outcomes of your study
  • Which limitations were you facing?
  • What have you learnt from each other?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • You can also use diagrams/visuals
  • 250 words text