This thesis reflects on the contemporary issues of the municipality of Ypres and how to deal with these from a perspective that would be advantageous, not only for the city, but also for the inhabitants. Today, Ypres is seen as one of the main examples of ‘re-construction’ destinations in Belgium. As the city is exemplary, the government has taken this concept as an opportunity to attract war tourists. The aim of this thesis is to point out the issues that Ypres faces in terms of this ‘war representation and brandification’, and to put emphasis on the ‘ghost client’ or local inhabitants by reflecting on the current needs in a fabric that is already in ‘metamorphosis.’
Ypres is portrayed as a ‘re-construction’ city. As time goes by, the focus is put more on this war representation and the tourists that it attracts. The local people of Ypres feel somehow disconnected from their own city as they feel that they are neglected. In the future planning of Ypres, the institutions that serve the locals; like schools, youth movements (scouts), sport centers etc. are pushed out of the city center. Therefore Ypres is becoming a ‘scenery’ for tourists and loosing its local spirit. There is especially a lack of youth, as there is not much social activity going on for them to participate and therefore there is a need within the city for a space of interaction. The main issue is that the bustling spirit is being replaced by the traces of the past. Although the city is in constant ‘metamorphosis’, the social spaces to allow this metamorphosis are lacking. Here, ‘the ghost client’ comes into action and an effort is made to put attention on ‘a memory’, which is not only of the past, but a memory that still has to be created.
In an environment where ‘memory’ is taken as a key element to represent a city, is it possible to redefine this memory, so it would not only serve the past, but also the present and the future. And therefore, how can we deal with heritage in a way where the main focus is not on the building as an object, but the building as a body in metamorphosis that allows this ‘new memory’. To portray this vision, the abandoned open air swimming pool of Ypres was chosen as project site, where the key aspects of the design were protection of the heritage site, but also adaption and addition to this existing layer. The main goal is to create a new memory (psychological and physical) by putting more emphasis on the event than the architecture itself. The new layer will allow the participation of the main users of the place. Thus, they can fully grasp the context and engage themselves with this environment that has traces of the past but also portrays new elements for the future. The newly designed elements and changes to the existing context will be designed in a way that the young generation can help to construct the area together with experts. Another important aspect is that this new skin distinguishes itself from its past layer (masonry and concrete) trough its light materiality, mainly wood.