On March 1st, construction started on the Schelde tunnel, a new tunnel under the river Schelde that will close the Ring Road around Antwerp. The construction of the Schelde tunnel creates a direct connection for traffic between the Left Bank and the southern harbor on the Right Bank of the river. The tunnel includes a separate tube for cyclists. The construction of the tunnel also marks the start of the works for the Oosterweel connection on the Right Bank. Commissioned by Lantis, the architectural studio ZJA is responsible for the design of the Schelde tunnel, the associated service buildings and the environmental integration.
Schelde tunnel missing link between Right - and Left bank
The Schelde tunnel is the most important link between the Right and Left Bank of the Oosterweel Connection and is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the Oosterweel Works. The Schelde tunnel consists of a tunnel of approximately 2 km long for car traffic and has an adjacent separate tubel for cyclists.
Characteristic to ZJA's design is the light-dark contrast of the tunnel mouth and the wall cladding, the curved flowing line of the tunnel mouth and the louvre walls of the service buildings and the tunnel mouth. The wall cladding ranges from a gradual dark gray outside the tunnel to light gray inside the tunnel.
As a distinctive feature the tunnel mouth and the service building of the Schelde tunnel are embedded in high, green slopes. Also, a sloping dividing wall provides the tunnel with its own identity on the Left Bank. On the Right bank, the service building has been sunk as far as possible below ground level and embedded in low sloping ground. The tunnel is not only an important connection for motorists, but is also an important link in the cycling network around Antwerp.
Closure of the Antwerp Ring Road
For years, the city of Antwerp has been struggling with heavy traffic and heavy traffic congestions on the Ring Road. The Oosterweel Connection will improve the flow of traffic and reduce nuisance caused by noise and air pollution. Space is also created for new parks in the ring zone that will greatly improve the living environment. The Ring Road will then no longer be a divide partitioning the city of Antwerp. The Oosterweel connection is an important part of the 2020 Masterplan and is intended to solve the structural mobility problems in and around Antwerp.
In collaboration with Lantis and commissioned by THV RoTs (Witteveen + Bos and Sweco Belgium), ZJA not only supplied the architectural design for the Left Bank of the Oosterweel Connection, but also that for the Right Bank of the Schelde.