The reconstruction of the Wapper, the iconic elongated square in the center of the Meir, is entering the next phase. After a consultation and a jury moment, the Council of the Mayor and Aldermen approved the award of the selected design team.
That design team, OMGEVING (‘Surroundings‘) and De Urbanisten, will now develop a concept design. The intention is that the ambitions of the city with regard to daily use, climate and archeology will be given a place in this.
In the summer of 2022, the City of Antwerp selected five design agencies to draw up a vision note with a sketch design for the reconstruction of the Wapper.
In mid-November, a continuous participation moment followed, at which about 200 Antwerp residents came by to discover the anonymous designs. The visitors could not vote, but they could give their opinion on the various designs.
This input was presented to all candidates during an interview with the jury. After that jury moment, a design team was selected: OMGEVING and De Urbanisten. In the meantime, the Board has also approved the choice of this design team. It is not the first assignment they have won in Antwerp: they also draw up the design for the Ringparken West and Het Schijn.
The concept phase is now starting for the Wapper. In it, the design team continues to work with the feedback from the participation moment, the jury and the board. The ambitions of the city are threefold:
- Wapper as a contemporary square. The Wapper is used intensively every day by shoppers, the catering industry, traders, cyclists and pedestrians, among others. They must all be given the necessary space, so that the Wapper becomes a pleasant place to stay and a safe, open and logical link between the shopping area and the theater district.
- Wapper as a climate-robust square. Today, De Wapper is an urban and largely paved square with limited greenery. Cooling spots can be created on the square, for example, by providing greenery and water.
- Archaeological-historical value. Historically, the Wapper 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. In the new design there is preferably a reference to the presence of this structure. In addition, the Rubens House and the various works of art and monuments make it clear that the square has an important historical value. These historical elements must be carefully integrated into the renovated square.
Alderman for Public Domain Erica Caluwaerts (Open Vld): “De Wapper is located in the heart of our city. That is why it deserves a better interpretation so that it becomes a beautiful, contemporary and future-proof residential square with a nod to the past. I look forward to the concept of the design team.”
The concept design is planned for next summer. A new consultation moment for the people of Antwerp will follow in September. The input from that consultation moment will be incorporated into the preliminary design.
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