The Antwerp Ring

Extension and renovation works of the Oosterweel connection on the Antwerp ring road are extensive and complex. The goal is to complete the ring road and increase its capacity, in part by building new tunnels under the Albert Canal and the Schelde river, while taking care of a better integration of the traffic system into the city. This results in lowered and covered highway trajectories, creating space for city parks. And above all, a pleasant living environment is provided with more connections over and under the ring road, explicitly for cyclists and pedestrians.

On the eastern section of the ring road, close to the famous Sports Palace, the highway disappears underground. A city park will be created here, with space to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian connections between the tram and subway stops and the big venues like the Lotto Arena and the Sports Palace.

Architectural studio ZJA is involved in several sections of the Antwerp Ring Road, including the Oosterweel Connection. The firm not only works on extending and integrating the ring road itself, but also designs the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that enhances the quality of the integration of the ring road into the city.

The footbridge

The footbridge is designed to enable pedestrians coming from the public transport stops to safely cross the Noordersingel and the busy Schijnpoort road and to reach the Sports Palace and the Lotto Arena. ZJA’s design reaches across the road in an elongated and stylized S-shape. At the east side a looped ramp gives access to the footbridge, stairs do the same at the west side.

The footbridge has the shape of a slender elongated box with slanted sides, softened curves and a striking white skin. The design aims to turn the crossing into a single and powerful gesture. Visual distraction is to be avoided. All technical details, such as traffic lights, lighting, safety screens shielding off the electric tram wires are integrated into the structure of the footbridge as much as possible. The underside of the bridge is smooth. Its slender design and the minimal load involved allow large spans, just a few columns, which provides a spacious appearance. The footbridge appears to float above the busy traffic to make its graceful crossing.

Connecting to the Bicycle Ring Path

In an ambitious move a circular bicycle path was planned on the outside of the entire ring road, in order to connect neighbourhoods and the parts of the city on either side of the ring road. Right in front of the Lotto Arena a bridge connects the footbridge to this Bicycle ring path. City planners envision a city park (Ring Park) here after completion of the renovation of the ring road, with pedestrians and cyclists moving among the trees. The design of this bicycle bridge that crosses the Schijnpoort road on the east side to meet the footbridge near the Lotto Arena is identical to the footbridge itself. A steel box in white steel, with slanting sides and softened curves, a clear and light part of the urban landscape.

The bicycle bridge and the footbridge add a safe and comfortable connection to this extremely busy part of the city. Cyclists and pedestrians coming to events in the Sports Palace or the Lotto Arena can now quickly and easily find their way. The ring road is no longer an obstacle for the residents and visitors. An attractive public space has been added, that in the future offers a splendid view over the Ring Park.

Architect: ZJA
Principal: Lantis (Leefbaar Antwerpen door Innovatie en Samenwerken), together with Sweco Belgium and Witteveen+Bos.

Client ZJA: RoTS (Witteveen + Bos and Sweco Belgium)
Year: 2020

Project: #707