ANTWERP | Wapper near Meir and Rubens House to be renovated into a contemporary and climate-robust city square

The Wapper, an elongated square in the center linking the Meir to the Schuttershofstraat and Hopland, will be thoroughly renovated. Because the square is intensively used by shoppers, traders and passers-by, among others, the current state is no longer sufficient, the City of Antwerp says in a press release.

The Wapper.

Moreover, the planned works on the Rubens House are an opportunity to emphasize the archaeological-historical value of that monument on the future Wapper. In the design, the city also puts maximum effort into climate adaptation. The final design is for mid-2024.

The City of Antwerp organised a design competition for the reconstruction of the Wapper, after which it selected five design teams. Now that the College of Mayor and Aldermen has approved the specifications, the project definition and the selection report, the design teams can get to work. 

The teams have three months to submit a vision statement and sketch designs. A jury will select the ultimately winning design team, but the Antwerp residents will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on the entries. The final design is currently planned for the summer of 2024.

Alderman for Public Domain Erica Caluwaerts (Open Vld): “We are transforming the stone plain that is now the Wapper into a pleasant place to stay with lots of greenery and water, surrounded by terraces. We are also making the connection to Theaterplein car-free so that our city center is even safer and more accessible. becomes for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Analysis leads to triple ambition

After a thorough analysis of the use and functions of the Wapper, three clear ambitions emerged: the Wapper as a contemporary square, the importance of the climate story and its archaeological-historical value. These ambitions include the various elements that must be present in the future design.

Contemporary square

‘The Wapper as a contemporary square’ is about daily use and mobility. The Wapper is used intensively by shoppers, catering, traders, cyclists and pedestrians, among others. They all need to be given the necessary space. In this way, the Wapper can become a pleasant place to stay and a safe, open and logical link between the shopping area and the theater district.

Climate-robust

A second ambition is the Wapper as a climate-robust square, with more greenery and water. For example, greening and water can create cool spots. 

Historically, the square has always had a special relationship with water. In the 15th century there was a moult at that location that provided the city with drinking water. This structure is currently underground, but can again be visually incorporated into the new design of the Wapper. 

In addition, the city can focus on buffering rainwater from the surrounding area.

Archaeological-historical value

In addition to the presence of the moult, the Rubens House and the various works of art and monuments also make it clear that the Wapper has an important historical value. These historic elements must also be integrated into the design on the renovated square.

On the look of Antwerp

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