With almost 40 million tons of goods transported annually, the Albert Canal is the most important waterway in Flanders. Today's inland shipping however requires a greater clearance of bridges and wider shipping channels. This also at Merksem and Deurne, near Antwerp, where the old Theunis bridge is to be replaced by a higher bridge and the canal is widened. This morning minister Ben Weyts of Mobility and Public Works gave the official go-ahead for the construction of the new Theunis bridge.
The new Theunis bridge for which ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects made the architectural design commissioned by De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, provides an attractive connection between Merksem and Deurne. In the design that ZJA made the white open construction and the dark pillars and landings of the bridge are most striking. The new bridge actually consists of three bridges to be used by cyclists, pedestrians, cars and trams. The bicycle and footpaths are located on the outer sides of the bridge and offer uninterrupted views of the Albert Canal and the city of Antwerp.
ZJA paid extra attention to the entry of daylight in the passage under the bridge in order to create a safe and pleasant public place. Patterns on the tile walls under the bridge refer to the industrial heritage of the nearby sugar factory. By placing wooden benches, greenery and good lighting around and under the bridge, a pleasant urban space is created both in the passage under the bridge as well as on the quay.
The construction of the new Theunis bridge will not only be an improvement for larger ships. For cyclists and pedestrians it will also provide an attractive and smooth connection offering pleasant public places on the quays to linger.