You will undoubtedly have already noticed. The de Hoge Rielen is constantly evolving.
We continue to systematically build a better domain. In this way, we continue to ‘create space for accommodation, adventure and tranquillity’. That is our mission.
Further development of the domain takes place according to the master plan, which remains true to the long-term vision of a relationship with the past and with the entire domain. All without discounting the architecture or nature.
In 1974 the Ministry of National Education and Dutch Culture bought the former British military domain of 230 hectares in Lichtaart. Between 1976 and 1990, 17 former ammunition sheds, scattered throughout the domain, were converted into accommodation buildings for young people. There was no global plan of action. Each building was realised separately without taking into account any connection with the remainder of the domain or the history of the domain.
Masterplan – Studio Secchi & Viganò (2004)
Since 2004, structural alterations and renovations on the de Hoge Rielen domain have not been dealt with on an ad hoc basis. They have been implemented according to the concept of the master plan.
A long-term vision was drawn up by the Italian Studio Secchi & Viganò. The master plan took into account the historical, ecological and educational value of the domain. Within the domain, three landscapes were defined: the military, the natural and the educational landscape. The master plan incorporates these landscapes in relation to each other and provides concepts and tools for their development.
The master plan is based on the following important pillars:
- Respect for the original military character of the domain: old military sheds are being restored so their architecture retains a link to the past
- The introduction of ‘shed camping’
- A forest management plan leading to more varied forests and biotopes
- Restoration of the central road as the main connecting road for cyclists and pedestrians
- The construction of a hostel with unique architecture: 20 rooms with a view of nature
Reception building - Erik Wieërs (2002)
You will feel immediately welcome upon entering the reception square of the de Hoge Rielen!
In 2002, the construction of a new reception building was begun. It marked the start of a master plan for the entire domain (2004). Inspired by the architecture, shape and material of the military sheds on the domain, the reception building was designed as an imposing maxi-shed, providing open space to receive groups.
In 2000, architect Erik Wieërs of Huiswerk Architecten (now Collectief Noord) won the first Open Call competition in Flanders to design this building.
Sheds (2008 – 2010)
Camp 17 - Spade (Shovel) and Building 22 - AGO Architects
Camp 15 - Lamp, Building 18, Building 36 and Building 50 - Puls Architects
Camp 10 - Gitaar (Guitar) - Teema Architects
Seven old storage sheds (1955) used for British Army ammunition were renewed and restored to their original form, with functionality defining the form. The only addition is two bright red emergency doors. The renovated sheds are mainly used as a play or sleeping area near camp grounds. Building 36 has been converted into a skating shed.
Shed camping – Teema Architecten (2011)
What if not everyone in your group likes camping outside?
TEEMA Architects came up with an attractive alternative: a camp ground combined with an ingeniously converted shed. For their design, they drew inspiration from the surroundings and realised a ‘building-in-a-building’. You sleep inside in a heated sleeping area, you have a simple kitchen and you can warm yourself at the fireplace with a cosy fire.
Hostel Wadi – Architectural firm Secchi & Viganò (2013)
Would you like to experience a stay with all the creature comforts yet still feel in the middle of nature?
It is possible in the Wadi Hostel! Studio Secchi & Viganò designed a building that embraces the forest, as it were, and is inconspicuously integrated into the landscape. Thanks to its unique architecture, the building blends in completely with the surrounding greenery. Due to its transparency, visitors always have direct visual contact with nature. Book a room for four people in this cylindrical hostel and let yourself be enchanted by the beautiful architecture, integrated with nature.
Public outdoor space – Studio Secchi & Viganò (2017)
The Flemish government has invested in the construction of public spaces for children and young people. An outdoor theatre, a picnic zone and a path that connects Wadi Hostel to the picnic area and the outdoor theatre (northwest connection) were all built, for example.
The outdoor theatre can be used for concerts, lectures, receptions or as a playful meeting place.
A picnic area has been created next to the restaurant, where guests and visitors can relax during their trip to the domain.
The public outdoor spaces, such as, the footpath and picnic area have been created within green areas to further emphasise the car-free character and provide an intuitive way to find your way.
Camp tower - Import.Export Architecture (2019)
Looking for a unique place to camp?
The camp tower is the result of an experimental research and design process into new, temporary forms of camping. The stacked camp construction was designed by Import.Export Architecture (IEA) from Antwerp, and has now found a home on the de Hoge Rielen domain.
Four camp platforms are held aloft in the air like treehouses by steel columns. The staggered positions in this special camping architecture offer different views and experiences.
Building 11 – Kajak (Kayak) and Building 14 – Knoop (Knot) – AGO Architecture (2019)
The architectural firm AGO has colourfully decorated these buildings. There is a flexible sleeping area with 30 beds and a sleeping loft for 14 people. You can also wake up outside in the middle of nature, in the sleeping boxes which provide 12 extra beds.
Theater – building 39 - Kompas – building 27 – building 30 – Fireplace B (2022)
When you drive over the main road and the access roads in the southern part of the domain, you notice some new buildings. These buildings were part of the implementation of the fourth phase of the Hoge Rielen master plan.
dmvA Architecten made the designs and helped monitor the construction work.
Building 27 and Building 30
Building 27 is ready to receive adventurers who want to push their limits on the climbing forest of the Hoge Rielen. The building has been completely renovated, there is a gallery to watch the instructional video and there are sanitary facilities where the water is purified through an ingenious filter system.
Next to Camp 30 - Flag, there is a renovated shed. The building was given a complete facelift and the roof. Those who book Kamp 30 - Vlag can now fully enjoy a modern unfurnished interior space during their stay.
Building 39 - Kompas
Building 39 - Compass was completely demolished and replaced by a new building. On the outside, the architecture of the basic military structure remains recognizable. Inside, it has been transformed into a contemporary residence, where smaller groups will feel at home.
The energy-efficient building was designed by dmvA Architects in such a way that everyone can stay there, including people with disabilities. There are accessible beds and bathrooms, wide doors, no thresholds and there is a cooking block with a lower worktop.
The Theater was completely modernized and expanded, so that it fits with the architecture of the outdoor theater. The multipurpose room has become more spacious and can be arranged flexibly. There is a bar that can also be used on the outside. The fireplace has been retained and the sanitary facilities and the entrance area have been efficiently designed.
The Theater can serve as a space for performances, concerts, rehearsals, meetings…
Through landscaping, the large fireplace B was recreated as an amphitheater with more than 200 seats.
By deepening the center and raising the edges, an intimate space is created around the campfire. Steel rings hold the arena's ground mass in position. The access, ramps and benches between the steel rings preserve the existing vegetation of sparse grassland. Both large and small groups can sit around the campfire.
Studio Secchi & Viganò - MAARCH
After 15 years, an update of the Masterplan was necessary. The domain faces specific challenges and is at the same time a place that can serve as a Living Laboratory. Pedagogy, living together and memory come together at the Hoge Rielen. That is the great asset of the domain. The need for a coherent vision that takes into account different perspectives and expectations forms the starting point for updating the master plan. In this way we ensure that the multitude of ambitions and visions do not fall into a mishmash of scattered interventions.
The master plan was updated in close collaboration with various stakeholders. In addition to talks, two seminars were organized to strengthen the analysis and test design concepts.
Interview 'Guardians of the Master Plan'
In the third edition of our magazine Hoogtepunt, we presented 'Rielenmakers' Kim Jaxcsens, architect project leader at the Agency for Facilities and Services of the Flemish government, and Songül Sagir, engineer at the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, with some issues surrounding the master plan. It turned out to be a fascinating conversation about image quality, mobility, sustainable construction and biodiversity.
You can read a foretaste in the magazine. Curious about the full interview?