June 2012 saw the opening of the completely renovated Zeeheldenplein (Sea Heroes Square). The main purpose of the new, larger square is to protect the city against flooding. Indeed, despite the wide emergency beach, the zone near the Klein Strand (Small Beach) continued to be at risk in the event of a severe storm.

The Zeeheldenplein is three times its original size. The wave-damping structure, designed for safety purposes and with a view to recreational use, is integrated into the new square and the surroundings. A lowered strip serves as promenade. This way, the Zeeheldenplein now connects to the Albert I promenade, to the walking path of the new western mole and the Visserskaai (Fishing Quay). In the square the shape of the original historical bastion is still visible on the ground. The Seamen’s Monument is still in the centre of the renovated square. Glass windscreens are positioned around the sunken fountain square. Benches are arranged along this glass wall, shielding the holiday-makers from the wind. The larger square and the wider dike, in combination with the Klein Strand (Small Beach) offer new possibilities for recreation and events.

The department COAST worked closely with the city of Ostend to turn the Zeeheldenplein into the business card of maritime Ostend. For the city, the renovation of the Zeeheldenplein was the icing on the cake of the maritime renovation. The square got more visual appeal and has a multifunctional character: it offers protection against the whims of the sea but also brings people together. It is a square to meet people, where one can enjoy the city and the sea; in short, a place to relax.

The renovation of the Zeeheldenplein was a big challenge for the department COAST. Flood protection was not the only objective, so was the embellishment of the living environment. The idea was to respect as much as possible the Ostend sea dike, which is without question valuable historical heritage. At the same time, the square is an example of attractive architecture.