Last weekend the prefab bicycle tunnel under the Turnhoutsebaan at Deurne was slid into place. During the building of the Oosterweel connection, the tunnel will provide cyclists with a safe crossing. Eventually this piece of civil engineering, designed by architectural studio ZJA, will become a permanent part of the new Ring Road cycle path.
Cycling around the Antwerp Ring Road
During the building of the Oosterweel connection, no fewer than 35 kilometres of new cycle paths and bicycle highways will be laid, and many new or temporary cycle bridges will arise. The new bicycle tunnel under the Turnhoutsebaan is further from the highway than the current tunnel, and will offer cyclists and pedestrians a safer and more pleasant environment. Beside the 6.5-metre-wide cycle path will come a two-metre-wide pedestrian zone, in a contrasting material to make the distinction clear at a glance.
Flowing connection in a green valley
To connect the new tunnel with the existing infrastructure, a structure resembling a valley has been devised, with green slopes on either side. To allow the valley to continue as far as possible into the narrow profile of the tunnel, the tunnel mouths have been turned outwards both horizontally and vertically, creating generous entrances for cyclists with an optimal spatial effect. Maximum visibility and public safety at a relatively out-of-sight location.
A concrete galaxy
The light-coloured concrete tunnel roof seems almost to float above the reflective, graffiti-resistant and low-maintenance walls of glazed concrete. At the same time, with its base of brickwork with jutting bricks, the tunnel is firmly grounded. The tunnel mouth has a slim, bevelled concrete edge above which the darkly coated balustrade seems to free itself optically. The ingenious lighting comes from uplights on the underside and a series of spotlights integrated into the tunnel roof. Like a concrete galaxy, which fades a little towards the tunnel mouth, guiding the cyclist through the transition to the less brightly lit cycle path outside.
Over the next few months the tunnel entrances, cycle paths and landscaping will be put in place. The opening of the new bicycle tunnel to the public is planned for March 2023. After the work is complete, the old bicycle tunnel will become a wildlife tunnel.