In the coming years, the District of Antwerp and the City of Antwerp will upgrade the Stadspark or City Park back to its original landscape style, taking into account contemporary needs. They now approved the preliminary design, which was drawn up after consultation with experts and local residents.
This memorandum contains measured plans and goes into more detail about future adjustments.
It is a representation of the decisions taken and the further process, of any ambiguities that are still on the table today, and of points to be further detailed in the preparation of the final design.
On Sunday 9 October 2022, a new dialogue moment with local residents and concerned park visitors will follow. On the basis of this dialogue and the further input of experts, the district and city will ultimately have the final design elaborated.
In October 2020, the design team OMGEVING + HydroScan + Yellow Window was appointed to draw up the revaluation plan for the Antwerp Stadspark. Their preliminary design takes into account the protected status of the park and starts from the already drawn up and approved Heritage Management Plan, which outlined the main guidelines.
The preliminary design describes a more detailed vision: a diverse park for various users and a climate park in the heart of the city, with the history as a guideline for spatial quality.
There are six accents in the preliminary design.
1: Path structure
The path structure will largely remain as it is now. The new widths were set at four meters for the outer loop and three meters or narrower for the remaining paths, by analogy with Keilig’s design. The bicycle connection and paths with a steep gradient will be constructed in washed concrete. The other paths are in bonded porphyry split, as is usual in the other parks in the city.
Road-safe connections between the park and the surrounding neighborhoods are important. These will be made concrete in other processes, but the following points for attention are already included from the Revaluation Plan:
- Safe connection of footpaths between the Stadspark, the Rubenslei and the Louiza-Marialei. With attention to the main entrance as an event zone.
- Connecting the park entrances to the Van Eycklei crossings.
- Special attention is paid to visibility in Quinten Matsijslei between motorized traffic and pedestrians at the extra crossing at Van Leriusstraat.
District Alderman for Green Areas and Parks Tom Van den Borne (Groen): “The parking facilities in the Louiza-Marialei are also being adapted, in function of the trees and the use of the open zone. The we hope positive impact on the growth of the trees will be further investigated in the next phase. The right-angled parking spaces will be changed to longitudinal parking. Semi-paved paths will be constructed between the rows of trees, which will make the link with the Frankrijklei.”
The preliminary design establishes a green structure plan. The edges of the green massifs in particular will be thoroughly tackled. That will have the biggest visual impact. The aim is to reduce the current monotonous planting of snowberry and replace it with a more attractive and more diverse planting of low and high shrubs.
Extensive grass areas in the park are kept to a minimum because the high usage pressure does not allow this. But along the grasslands that are managed extensively, mainly along the banks of the pond, a more intensively managed strip is also provided on the side of the pavement. This is mowed more frequently and also shows visitors that the extensive grassland is a conscious choice.
The existing park furniture will be completely replaced. So all benches, lighting poles, information boards, trash cans and related items will be renewed.
The artworks in the park are given a tailor-made approach. Some images have accent lighting. The statue ‘Mother and Child‘ will be moved. A new location is still being sought for the ‘Monument to the Fifth Line Regiment‘. The memorials that were temporarily erected next to the ‘Monument to the Fallen‘ will be moved to the renovated Scheldt Quays.
The fence around the northern part of the pond has already been removed. The fences around the extensively managed zones will remain in place until the revaluation plan is implemented. The preliminary design reiterates the objective of removing the existing barrier everywhere.
In the future, the Stradspark will not be completely lit. The outdoor loop, the crossing from the Van Eycklei via the Keiligbrug to the Louise-Marialei and the skate zone will be illuminated, along with a few other accents.
For safety reasons, the preliminary design also includes lighting at the play area and Grand Café Capital. In total there are four lighting loops, each of which can be set according to the specific functions and needs of the place.
4: Monument to the Fallen Square
The square around the war memorial was further elaborated in detail in the preliminary design.
The entrance along the Van Eycklei will be moved slightly in order to create a better flow of traffic around the monument. The western entrance is more in line with the zebra crossings from the surrounding streets, and with the visual axis towards the monument.
Extra space will also be provided here for waiting cyclists and pedestrians to cross the intersection. The preliminary design provides for a play fountain for the ‘Monument to the Fallen’. When this is off, the square offers space for commemorations or events.
5: Water management
The current water level of the pond has fluctuated around 2 meters Second General Leveling since the implementation of the dewatering strategy.
When determining the intended target level, there are a number of starting points: the heritage value, the existing water problems and sustainable water use, and the importance of the pond in a climate-robust city.
City Alderman for the Public Domain Erica Caluwaerts (Open Vld): “By means of a step-by-step plan, we aim to maintain a constant water level in the Stadspark pond. The first step is to prevent the pond from falling dry, the second to raise the level towards 2.4 meters and the third to achieve the ultimate target level around 3.5 meters. We use, among other things, the drainage water from Den Bell, but the rainwater from the surrounding streets will also be diverted to the pond as much as possible. Not unimportant in the plan is that an emergency overflow is provided at 4 meters, so that the pond can continue to play a role in the flood risk management of the surrounding district.”
Further research is being conducted into the impact of a raised water level on the existing trees around the pond and their roots. The trees have adapted to the low water level, so raising the water level potentially leads to the loss of a range of trees. This may still have an impact on the target level formulated so far.
The increased water level will also have an effect on the small island on the west side of the pond. A search zone has been indicated on the plans in which further research will be carried out into the effect of different water levels. It is important that part of the zone is permanently under water. To prevent entering the island and to give fauna and flora the chance to develop.
An accelerated process is underway for the renewal of the existing playground. The district college approved the final design in March 2022.
In light of protecting the existing tree stock and feasible maintenance, two adjacent play zones were chosen. In the 0-4 year old play zone, a third of the play equipment is reserved for the little ones.
The playground equipment is linked together by a pile of piles. In the game zone +4 years, different game types are processed. The highest aircraft will be located on the east side, so that the historical visual axis is preserved. The height of the current climbing spider is the maximum height for the new design.
The construction of the playground is scheduled to start in September 2023.
The works in the Stadspark will be tackled in phases, but based on an integrated approach. This can be done according to theme and per spatially coherent whole.
City Alderman for City and Neighborhood Maintenance and Greenery Els van Doesburg (N-VA): “Sub-zone can be tackled and finished per sub-zone, making constant accessibility and use of the park possible. In this way, no clear-cutting is caused in the protected monument and the neighborhood sees a finished result faster.”
Local residents and park visitors will be informed about the preliminary design with a newsletter and information in the Stadspark itself.
A new open dialogue moment will follow on Sunday afternoon 9 October 2022 for everyone who feels involved in the Stadspark.
The preliminary design can be viewed via the web page www.antwerpenmorgen.be/stadspark.
Local residents and users of the park will also be involved during the final phase of the design process.
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