The first part of the new Theunis Bridge in Merksem, consisting of one of the two road bridges and the tram bridge, has been inaugurated. With its steel white open structure towers the new Theunis Bridge is a stark visual experience. The image-defining towers are designed to be as open as possible to provide maximum views. The dark substructure contrasts strongly with the light-colored steel superstructure. Architects ZJA are responsible for the design of the new Theunis Bridge, which ensures a smooth connection between the two banks of the Albert Canal.
Three bridges crossing the Albert Canal
The new Theunis Bridge consists of three adjacent bridges; two traffic bridges and a tram bridge in the middle. The bicycle and pedestrian paths of the Theunis Bridge hang like balconies on both sides of the bridge. From the bridge, cyclists and pedestrians have a beautiful view of the water and the surroundings.
Daylight shines between the three bridges, giving crossing traffic a visual relationship with the water, but also providing light on the quays under the bridge. The bridges rests on openwork concrete pillars, which ensures transparency. Wooden benches will be placed between the pillars allowing for a pleasant place under the bridge where one can enjoy passing boats and container ships or can dream away by the water.
The retaining walls along the landings of the Theunis Bridge are finished in dark brick strips, which provide a nice contrast with the light bridge. The long walls are given a playful pattern and relief with graceful detailing, giving them a lively look.
The construction of the Theunis Bridge is carried out in phases. East of the current bridge, the eastern road bridge and the new tram bridge were built first. Currently, the old bridge is being demolished to create room for the construction of the third and final bridge section of the new Theunis Bridge. The complete new Theunis Bridge will be completed in the summer of 2021.
Antwerp Mobility Master Plan
As part of the Antwerp Mobility Master Plan for better navigability of the Albert Canal by container ships, bridges will be raised, and the canal widened. This is also the case here at Merksem, Antwerp, where the new Theunis Bridge is completely renovated and raised and the canal is widened from 48 meters to 90 meters wide.
The Great Connection
The construction of the new Theunis Bridge is not the only infrastructure project in Antwerp. Currently, as part of the 'The Great Connection' project, various works are taking place to improve the quality of life and accessibility of the city of Antwerp. The most important part of this is the Oosterweel connection, for which ZJA made the architectural design and that will close the Antwerp Ring improving the flow of traffic.