ANTWERP | City approves preliminary design for revamped Scheldt Quays’ section from Steenplein to Noorderterras

The Antwerp city council has approved the preliminary design for the renewal of the Scheldt Quays from Steenplein to Noorderterras. In this area, Antwerp‘s past will be in the spotlight by making underground remnants experienceable again under the historic hangars. 

The hangars themselves are being restored and steps will be added to the walking terrace. That too is being restored, into a green living space with benches. The works are being carried out in phases. 

If everything goes smoothly, the contractor will start renovating the hangars and the walking terrace in the spring of 2023.

Epicentre

The central part of the Scheldt Quays is the part between the pavilion of the Zuiderterras and that of the Noorderterras. The sketch design for that entire part was approved in July 2021. 

The preliminary design has now been approved for the northern part of that central part: from the slope of the Zuiderterras on Steenplein to the pavilion of the Noorderterras. It therefore concerns Steenplein and the part with historic hangars to the north of it.

Zuiderterras slope.

Alderman for Urban Development Annick De Ridder (N-VA): “The section of the Scheldt Quays from Steenplein to Noorderterras will undergo a major transformation in 2023. Steenplein will be beautifully greened, giving it the atmosphere of a cozy park, and the pedestrian terrace between Steen and Noorderterras will change into a green ‘Kaailine‘. A few pavilions will be built under the completely renovated hangars and the centuries-old castle wall will be completely exposed again. In this way we not only strengthen the ties with the Scheldt, but also with the rich history of our beautiful city.”

Embankment

In the central part of the Scheldt Quays, a total of 813 meters of new flood defenses will be provided: 107 meters fixed and 706 meters mobile. A continuous elevation of 80 centimeters above the blue stone forms the permanent flood defence. If necessary, the mobile flood barrier (up to 2.25 meters above the blue stone) comes into operation.

Past made visible under hangars

Antwerp was created on the site near the historic hangars north of Steenplein. Here was the core of the old castle with the Sint-Walburgiskerk (St. Walburgia’s Church), the Vierschaer, the Giant House and the castle wall. About half a meter below the cobblestone plain are the foundations of the old city, which continue into the oldest streets of the city such as the Palingbrug, the Burchtgracht and the Willem Ogierplaats

The proximity of Het Steen and the cruise terminal also makes this an important tourist entrance to the city.

The space under the hangars will therefore also form the reception area of ​​the city where tourists, visitors and residents can become acquainted with the layered past of Antwerp. 

Under the hangars, the reconstruction will make the former city map visible in the pavement. The former castle wall is exposed over the entire width of the hangars to a depth of 2.7 meters. 

This gives a spectacular view of this large-scale building that formed the border of the city around the year 1000. Along the former Mattestraat, between the castle wall and Het Steen, are the contours of the old castle, which will become visible with historic remnants of, among others, the Sint-Walburgiskerk, the Vierschaer and the Giant House. 

In addition, the city is placing a number of pavilions along the former Mattestraat for play space and information or exhibition space. This is analogous to the former enclos, shielded spaces that were used by transhipment companies and customs to safely store goods temporarily.

In this way, the hangars will make the past tangible and provide a route for arriving cruise passengers via the Mattestraat to a stop for tourist buses in the adjacent Bonapartedok and Loodswezen sub-area.

Loodswezen.

More daylight

In order to make the space under the hangars a pleasant place to stay, some things will be adjusted during the restoration. Such as renewing and enlarging the current skylights, so that more light penetrates into the hangars. The remains of the fortress wall and the St. Walburgia Church get extra daylight. It is also being investigated how the acoustic comfort of the hangars can be improved by the restoration of the roofs.

Walking terrace as a pleasant green space

The elevated walking terrace offers a beautiful view of the Scheldt. In two places, a connection with the space below will be made via a staircase. The walking terrace itself is being refurbished. The city is renewing the floor and the balustrade, and the latter gets a wooden leaning edge. The walking terrace is being transformed into ‘Kaailine’, a pleasant living space with a robust maritime character and seating areas. There will be planting areas with ornamental grasses, perennials and shrubs. All varieties are resistant to a salty climate and can therefore tolerate the wind and drought on the Scheldt.

Steenplein

Steenplein will be given a higher quality of stay, whereby Het Steen, the Flandria Pavilion, the Scheldt and the valuable trees will once again be beautifully visible. Excess elements such as the temporary kiosk near the blue stone will be removed, as will the existing pavement. 

The square will also be given a green renewal. The existing trees will be preserved as much as possible and supplemented with more greenery. Under the trees, in the middle of the square, there will be an intimate park space that connects to the Flandria pavilion. 

There will be two places to stay with benches and planters with a mix of perennials, including ferns and ornamental grasses.

Space for events

Because the flood defense is closer to the Scheldt, the hangars and Steenplein will be easier to reach from the city center and can also be used independently of the water level. A walking route through the hangars connects various places where there is room for events. Events currently taking place on Steenplein can use the hangars in the future. A large flat floor connects from the castle wall to Het Steen and continues to the Suikerrui.

Participation moments

In order to shape the design of the entire central part of the Scheldt quays, a series of participation moments took place in 2019 over ten days. In the run-up to the preliminary design, an information moment was organized in January 2022, during which reactions to the draft design were welcome. 

An extensive online survey resulted in a response from 395 interested parties. This revealed, among other things, the demand to use the hangars for markets, events, sports, games, etc. and to see and experience the history of the place again in the public domain. The clear desire for greening was also often discussed.

Timing and design team

The final design of the northern part of the central part of the Scheldt Quays is expected by the summer of 2023 and mainly comprises the technical elaboration of the design. The construction will be done in phases. 

If everything goes smoothly, the restoration of the hangars and the walking terrace will start in the spring of 2023. 

Then, in the middle of 2024, work on the flood defense and the reconstruction of the quay area will start. T

he design of the quay area of ​​the central part is by Palmbout Urban Landscapes and Tractebel.

Masterplan Scheldt Quays

In order to restore the link between the city and the Scheldt, the city of Antwerp is working on a large-scale reconstruction of the Scheldt Quays. 

It concerns a strip of almost 7 kilometers, from the Droogdokkeneiland in the north to Blue Gate Antwerp in the south. They are thoroughly changing their view. 

The seven different sub-areas are being redeveloped in accordance with the Scheldt Quays Masterplan, which was drawn up on behalf of the City of Antwerp, AG Vespa and De Vlaamse Waterweg nv. De Vlaamse Waterweg nv is responsible for the stabilization of the quay wall and the construction of a raised flood defence. 

The City of Antwerp and AG Vespa are responsible for the redevelopment of the public domain. The works will be carried out in phases and will take approximately 15 years to complete. 

In 2019, the Belvédère opened in the Droogdokkenpark and the redeveloped quay plain near Sint-Andries and Zuid. Work is currently underway on the preparation, design and realization of the following sub-zones: Loodswezen area, central part between Steenplein and Noorderterras, second phase for Sint-Andries and Zuid, and Nieuw Zuid.

On the look of Antwerp

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