Oosterweelconnection Antwerp - Right Bank

The Oosterweelconnection is an important part of the Master Plan 2020, which includes new roads, extra tramlines, bicycle paths and other mobility initiatives for the Antwerp region. Sweco Belgium and Witteveen+Bos, united in THV RoTS, together with Beheersmaatschappij Antwerpen Mobiel (BAM NV), provide for the design of the Oosterweelverbinding Right Bank.

Design Assignment

ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects has been commissioned by BAM to design the Oosterweelverbinding right bank and associated preparatory works, required to improve mobility in Antwerp. The preparatory works are: the bicycle bridge IJzerlaan, Pumping Station Schijn and the Bicycle bridge Schijnpoortweg

Oosterweelconnection Right Bank 

The Oosterweelconnection Right Bank ensures the closure of the ring road around Antwerp. A new Antwerp ring, which is being built largely below ground level, offers opportunities to re-develop the surrounding area and to restore and reshape relationships between districts on both sides.

The commission covers the design of the infrastructure itself, the layout of the highway, the design of the structures and noise barriers and a proper urban integration of all.

Main themes are to create a composed road layout and facilitate a good orientation for road users. In this, an outspoken design and recognizable architectural programming are of importance.

The Oosterweelconnection Right Bank is a complex infrastructure, in which extensive interweaving of traffic occurs. The project consists of the route between junction Antwerp North and Antwerp East and the new connection under the port area towards the Oosterweel intersection, where the connection to the new Scheldt tunnel will be realized.

On this route, much occurs over a relatively short distance. The interchanges, slip roads and so-called “weaving zones” ahead of the tunnels all lie practically adjacent. This requires solutions allowing easy and safe traffic management and where importance is given to good orientation and a readable road layout. With the ring road below ground level and the interchanges and tunnels located closely together, the motorist is likely to rapidly lose orientation.

A good architectural design takes advantage of an orderly, calm and uniform overview. Integral design allows the various elements to blend, taking the distracting elements out of view.

As a basis, a choice was made for dark walls in the recessed open sections of the route, which merge into white walls in the tunnels. The upper edges of the walls constitute the carriers for the strut frame construction, lighting systems and installations and have been finished in white concrete, so that a beautiful contrast is created with the dark walls. They merge into the tunnel entrances and edges of the cowling. We aimed for aesthetically long-lasting solutions, requiring minimal maintenance.

BICYCLE BRIDGE IJZERLAAN

The new pedestrian and bicycle bridge has replaced the IJzerlaanbridge across the Albert Canal.

Removing the IJzerlaanbridge is in line with the plan for “Groene Singel” in the 2020 Master Plan of Antwerp. To allow more containers to be transported by barge, the height of all the bridges over the Albert Canal will be increased. Also the canal will be widened. 

The most eye-catching of the project IJzerlaan is the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Albert Canal. On the side of Merksem, the bridge departs from a new park area between the Albert Canal and the Oude Bredabaan. The new bridge provides a connection to the Vaartkaai, the Campiniastraat, Groenendaallaan and the Bredabaan. In this way, cyclists can seamlessly connect to the Ring cycle path, the Singel cycle path and the bike highway from Antwerp to Essen.

The iron bridge has a strong horizontal character, with load-bearing railings. These are supported by V-shaped columns, which have a minimal impact on the underlying park and give the bridge an airy look.

Over the canal, the railings are expanded to form high spatial beams so as to provide views of the surrounding area. The span across the canal measures over 85 meters. This bridge section was put in place in one go, to hinder shipping traffic as little as possible. The bridge has a navy-grey exterior, befitting the harsh industrial environment, while the interior with a light, white-grey finish focuses on the user and thus provides a pleasant light cycle route.

The new cycle bridge is approximately 490 meters long and with this the longest in Flanders. The bridge was constructed in two phases; Initially the bridge in the park on the side of Merksem, the crossing of the Albert Canal and the temporary landing on the south bank. After completion of the new Ring of Antwerp the final landing on the south bank will be constructed.

PUMPING STATION SCHIJN 

The re-routing of the river Schijn and the subsequent restructuring of the surrounding area is captured in the development of the Schijn Park. Important element of the Schijn Park is the new pumping station Schijn, a large screw pump that is also equipped with storm pumps.

The pumping station provides the drainage of excess water from the Schijn Valley to the drainage reservoir of the Albert Canal, the port area and the Scheldt.

The design and integration of the pumping station was created in a partnership with the city planners and the engineers from THV RoTS. The building has a central location in the new Schijn Park at the intersection of the entrance to the park and the Ring cycle path and will so become the most striking element in the park.

Around the technical, massive concrete core of the building, a second translucent façade is constructed, giving the building a richer look while furthermore framing all elements of the project in one architectural shell. In this way, building, fencing, maintenance platforms, access gates and lighting are brought together in a single architecture.

The architectural shell is carried out in weathering steel expanded metal panels, mounted on either weathering steel frames or directly to the concrete core of the pumping station.

In the evening the building is attractively lit, giving it then too a symbolical central place in the park.

Principal: Beheersmaatschappij Antwerpen Mobiel
Partners: Witteveen+Bos en Sweco Belgium
Year: 2012 - current

Project #707

Photographs: Sweco Belgium, Bam nv and Kattoo Hillewaere