1974-1999 – Ad-hoc approach
In 1974, the Education and Dutch Culture Ministry buys the military domain in Kasterlee and hands it over to the Council for Youth Education. The plan to turn the old military sheds into pavilions is rejected. The domain gets bogged down in an ad-hoc approach without overall plan: every building is realised separately without any link with the whole or the history of the domain.
1999 – Project definition
Flemish Master Builder Bob Van Reeth and his assistant Marc Santens bring a visit to de Hoge Rielen. The reason? A new reception building must be erected. But director Ludo De Schryver also wants to develop a new long-term vision for the whole of the domain. And so, he formulates a project definition, answering questions such as: What is essential? What is important? Where does 'sustainability' come into the picture? What is the relationship between what the domain was and how it can be developed? Which vision inspires? …
2000-2002 – Reception building with a vision
Also the reception building is designed on the basis of a project definition. Architect Eric Wieërs from 'Huiswerk' lays the foundation for a new master plan for the whole domain. The former military sheds, which suffer from many years of neglect, are re-valuated. From now on, they will play a key rol in the development of an overall concept. That's exactly why the new reception building draws inspiration from the shape and materials of these old military sheds.
2004 – Vision on a Master Plan
But the actual Master Plan is still missing. Five engineering offices put their vision to paper using the project definition as their guideline. Studio Secchi-Vigano from Milan wins the contract thanks to an inspiring presentation in which it defines the domain by three landscapes: the military, the natural and the educational landscape. The office interconnects these landscapes with one another and suggests concepts and tools for their development, as boxes for additional volumes in and beside the sheds and spatial functions.
On 15 December 2005, the Ministry of Culture and Youth accepts the plan with great enthusiasm. In June 2005, Secchi-Vigano starts drawing up the preliminary designs.
2006-2011 – In full progress
The Master Plan is now in its implementation phase.
• In 2006, the domain assigns the first studies.
• In 2009-2010, the sewage system is completely renewed and the circular traffic route and central road are repaired.
• In 2010, the works on the shed campsite are started and a tender for the hostel is organised.
• Also the development of the 'Contact Strip' is initiated. This strip is one of the ideas from the master plan. It links all public functions and includes a multifunctional hall, a picnic area, a footpath and a theatre.