The city Oostburg in the Dutch provincie of Zeeland has a population of over 4600 and is, in addition to a strong ageing population, also suffering form population decline. This puts pressure on the liveability of the centre and the service level of facilities. In order to turn this tide, the municipality of Sluis has called in the assistance of the O-team (Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations). This team has developed an innovative concept for Oostburg; Health Village Oostburg. NOHNIK was asked to create the content of this profile by carrying out a brief design study. We started form three spatial approaches: 1. The vital centre, 2. Green Necklace Oostburg, 3. Network city.
The vital centre – opportunities and challenges for the real estate
The health village has two main target groups; the elderly with a growing need for health care and the required growth of new inhabitants who can to a large extend take care of these elderly. These two target groups need customised housing, something which is not yet sufficiently provided in the village currently. For example, with regard to the existing housing, one can think of splitting up existing houses, offering houses as renovation projects or transforming retail properties into accessible living space. When transforming the existing buildings, sustainability measures can be taken simultaneously.
Additionally, innovation is needed, such as the realisation of multi-generation homes with a flexible floor plan and providing the freedom to build new houses without any policy restrictions.
Green Necklace Oostburg – a stronger connection to the surrounding landscape
In the surrounding landscape of Oostburg there are opportunities to make the city more self-sufficient and healthier. The landscape within the ‘Green Necklace Oostburg’ offers various ecosystem services and functions as well as opportunities for recreation and nature. For example, an exercise and health park in connection to the health care and sports cluster on the west side of te city, or the production of sustainable energy with which the city can become completely self-sufficient. By starting these initiatives from the community itself, financial revenues flow back to the local community. This can then be invested in the liveability of the city and in health care services. The same applies for the local production of food in the landscape of the Green Necklace.
Network city Oostburg – complementarity and regional connections
Connection to the region is vital. As a knowledge and service centre for the surrounding region, Oostburg can be of vital importance. To this purpose, well-functioning physical networks such as public transport and bicycle networks are essential. Strong social networks are as well crucial, such as an online platform where inhabitants can be connected when they need help, support or just a chat.
The three spatial approaches sketch impulses that go beyond providing better services to elderly people in need of care. They lead to a quality boost for the entire community of Oostburg which can confidently face the future.