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On behalf of Sogent (Ghent City Development), DEME was tasked with the redevelopment and remediation of a larger than 3 ha site along the Schipperskaai in Ghent. For this project, DEME was part of the DOK9000 executive consortium led by Schipperskaai Development (CAAAP and Van Roey), in collaboration with the engineering consultancy RSK and master planners Stéphane Beel and BLAF architects.


― Integrated city development and remediation

With the redevelopment of the New Docks, DEME is proving its added value in the integrated approach to climate-oriented urban design and comprehensive remediation. Based on a solid strategy with all partners and stakeholders on board, DEME managed to respect a tight deadline and optimise the phasing of these major works. This clear vision resulted in a collaborative, result-oriented work execution between all the construction participants, competent authorities and local residents.

Still today, there are reminders of the former industrial port activities, such as the monumental blue port cranes. Less visible were the traces that these historical activities had left in the soil. Creosote yards for treating wood for the railways had led to soil and groundwater contamination with creosote (a mixture of mineral oil, PAH, BTEX, etc.) around the Handelsdok. The consortium therefore carried out additional soil surveys as part of the competition phase.

DEME performed cleaning tests in its in-house laboratory. Drainage studies and a design for water purification were also carried out.

― 3D modelling guides the excavators

From the very outset, DEME worked closely with the developer and OVAM. For example, the contamination was mapped out very precisely, among other things using a 3D model developed in-house. This model guided the GPS of the excavators, making the excavation work rapid and accurate. This limited the amount of earth-moving involved, and the redevelopment could be perfectly aligned with the remediation works. In terms of cost-effectiveness, this was a particularly advantageous approach.


Low-noise pumps were used to minimise inconvenience to local residents. The strong smell of tar was neutralised using a scent gun.


Dust and emission values were also monitored. A flag system informed local residents of the air quality at any given time of day.

― Remediation pit becomes parking garage

The site was divided into building plots, each with a different future use. For each plot, the remediation of the contaminated soil was the first phase. Over a length of 300 metres, 53,750 tonnes of contaminated soil were excavated. This excavated material was cleaned in the soil purification centres. The excavation pits subsequently became the site for the underground car parks. This meant that only one dig had to be made, which represented a huge cost saving. The unpolluted soil, around 87,000 tonnes of it, was all reused on the site following temporary storage.

To be able to excavate in dry conditions, the groundwater level had to be lowered. Since the groundwater was also polluted, DEME developed and installed a treatment plant to clean the groundwater so that discharge standards were met. The electricity for the groundwater treatment plant was partly generated by solar panels.

― Connection to the neighbourhood

During the project development, between 2011 and 2019, the site, called DOK, was a summer venue and creative hotspot for all Ghent locals. People could enjoy artistic performances, eat and drink and take part in a range of activities. The connection with the neighbourhood forged lasting bonds, that continue to have an impact.


‘In transforming the Old Docks to the New Docks, we are integrating the remediation and development work in a climate-proof vision. This is the result of clear policy choices, so that OVAM, together with its partners, can focus on future-proof urban development rather than a mere cosmetic facelift. DEME’s approach resulted in significant time and efficiency gains, and a smaller environmental footprint.’

ANN CUYCKENS, Head of soil management department at OVAM


― Climate-oriented vision

This waterside neighbourhood will offer around 400 new apartments and houses for Ghent residents of all ages. Of course, a neighbourhood consists of more than just homes. Along the quay and in the various buildings, there is room for businesses and services, so that an organic network of shops, restaurants, offices and services can grow. In addition, the urban design encompasses public facilities such as a day nursery, a primary school and a neighbourhood sports hall.

The ‘new’ aspect of the New Docks not only refers to the brand new neighbourhood developing up from the ground here. There is also the innovative, climate-oriented vision of developers CAAAP and Van Roey, which goes beyond simply delivering sustainable buildings. For example, there is ‘Het Stroompunt’, a project that will ensure that energy and heat are used highly efficiently in the New Docks.

‘The New Docks score 93,5 % on the city's sustainability meter.‘

― Multimodal mobility

The New Docks also resolutely take the lead in innovative, multimodal mobility. The neighbourhood is within walking distance of the multimodal transport hub Ghent-Dampoort, which offers connections to all types of transport. The infrastructure of the New Docks puts cyclists and pedestrians at the heart of the project, making a large part of the site car-free. There is already a good connection with the city centre of Ghent via the Batavia bridge, and a second bridge will soon be added.

‘The New Docks is one of the most innovative neighbourhoods in Ghent.'


Docks score no less than 93.9% on the City of Ghent’s sustainability meter, a principle that is inspired by the well-known BREEAM score. The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method is a sustainability benchmark for achieving sustainable buildings with minimal environmental impact. In the assessment, various components are taken into consideration and may or may not be rewarded with points. These components are health, energy, water, transport, materials, waste, landscape and ecology, pollution and management.


In addition, the New Docks have also received various nominations and awards for its sustainable approach. The cooperative DuCoop (which provides the sustainability services in the New Docks) is even the proud winner of the Climate Prize of the Radical Innovators, awarded by De Standaard and Radio 1.

‘We believe that the environment is at least as important as the project itself. With the New Docks, we are giving the entire neighbourhood a new look. Surrounded by greenery and water, there will be various public facilities including a day nursery, after-school childcare, primary school and neighbourhood sports hall.’