The Left Bank infrastructure works are part of a larger master plan for the purpose of improving mobility in the Antwerp urban area. This master plan links the improvement of mobility to a broader spatial vision. The client for the Left Bank infrastructure works is the ‘Beheersmaatschappij Antwerp Mobiel (BAM), and the study is being carried out by Sweco Belgium in collaboration with Witteveen+Bos and Zwarts & Jansma architects. The study started in 2015. The planned execution of the works will run until 2021.
Location: Antwerp’s left bank
Period: 2015 – 2021
Services: Preliminary design, final design, permit application, specifications and monitoring of the implementation
Partners: Witteveen+Bos and Zwarts & Jansma architects
The project involves the reconstruction of the existing highway infrastructure on the left bank and takes into account the fact that a new Scheldt tunnel may be linked up in the future. The contract is based on a basic design that had already been drawn up by a previous study and construction team up to building permit level. This basic design has been thoroughly optimized. The project components include: a connection complex on the Waaslandhaven, the North interchange (existing Antwerp - Saint Anna exit), a P&R complex for 1,500 cars on the Blancefloerlaan, the South interchange (existing Antwerp-West complex) and the Zwijndrecht connection complex. The study includes the technical and spatial design, permit application and the specifications’ format.
A project office has been set up in Antwerp for the project, where the entire study team cooperates on one platform in order to obtain a sufficiently integrated and efficient operation. The full study phase including preparation of planning application was completed in a period of 1.5 years.
On the Left Bank and at Zwijndrecht, safe connections with the E17, the E34 and the Ring, entry and exit slip road complexes and parts of the underlying road network are coming. This will decrease traffic congestion and reduce cut-through traffic from the city and the surrounding municipalities.
In the design, special attention is paid to the multimodal character of our travel behaviour. For example, facilities for an extensive P + R car park and the ease of crossing the motorway is not only optimized for cyclists and pedestrians by providing multiple short-cuts/crossings but these are also integrated into the landscape, which increases the comfort and experience.
In order to meet new demands, the basic design has been significantly refined by the spatial design team. This included optimizing overstress, improving visibility and strengthening the clarity.
The development is characterized through a strong interdependence between architecture and landscape. This vision is called ‘cross-linked urban landscape’, with the goal of cross-linking the various programs (mobility, ecology, recreation, etc.) with each other as well as possible and creating added value. The architecture creates a peaceful and clear image for users and integrates itself into the context as subtly as possible. The background colour of the road layout is formed by dark grey gabions, with the engineering structures forming light accents in this. The bridges are designed as contextual engineering structures which closely connect with the context, and are given a tapered edge finish. In the two large road junctions, the two long fly-overs are being developed as well as sleek, independent architectural objects.
Landscape & ecology
An ecological corridor and a cycle path form a flyover on the wildlife crossing over the motorway. The project provides a number of local underpasses for ecological links, cycle paths or local roads. These structures slide through the earthworks and the dark grey gabion walls like a light tube.
The design of the infrastructure and engineering structures is closely interwoven with the landscape. Embankments are planted in relation to the adjacent landscape. Lines of trees accompany the service road and the cycle paths. The zone released through the compacter design of the southern junction becomes a recreational forest area, wherein the two existing connections across the tracks are transformed into green bridges.
Technical and process related challenges
The further development of the infrastructure design brought certain challenges with it. This is because of the scope and complexity of the work, as well as the demand for improvement with respect to earlier plans. Our Civil Engineering employees sought a potentially slender design for the engineering structures, such as the cycle bridge and the tram canopy. The process aspect also required special attention. As it so happens, many products needed to be prepared in a short time with a corresponding interaction with stakeholders and the revision process with the client.