The Rampart, The Traffic Artery, and the Park; Designing for the city regions of Antwerp

patrick.limpens

Through a close reading of Antwerp’s current spatial and socio-economic composition, and the introduction of the interplay between the city’s three defining paradigms – abstracted to ‘The Rampart, the Traffic Artery, and the Park’ – this study tries to sketch a unifying strategy for Antwerp’s metropole. A strategy that embeds residential, economic, cultural, recreational, climatic, and historical motives within the different city regions. Thereby improving the connection between the left and right side of the river; transitioning the suburban region to a more polycentric structure while maintaining a spatial relation to the city; and explicitly manages the horizontal growth of the periphery. But that most importantly, captures the metropole in a single narrative from its inner-city to its outer edges.

Graduation thesis prepared for the master’s degree in urban design at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

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Designing for the city regions of Antwerp

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Patrick Limpens

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The dust jacket wrapped

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this graduation thesis.

Unfold it and have a look


Graduation thesis prepared for the

master’s degree in urban design at the

Eindhoven University of Technology.

July 2020

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may

not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the publisher,

except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Graduation Studio Linkeroever I

2019-2020

Author:

P.J.E.M. (Patrick) Limpens

0970463

Graduation Committee:

Ir. M.W. (Marcel) Musch

Prof. dr. ir. P.J.V. (Pieter) van Wesemael

Unit AUDE

Chair of Urbanism and Urban Architecture

Department of the Built Environment

Printed by DeDigitaleDrukker B.V.

Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Bound by Bontje Book Solutions

Sittard, the Netherlands


The Rampart, the Traffic Artery, and the Park

Designing for the city regions of Antwerp


Abstract

Antwerp is currently implementing two large structuring plans; the ring project

called the Grote Verbinding, and a polycentric strategy for the suburban region

called the Network City. With the first, the city wants to solve traffic congestion

via the Oosterweel-tunnel; completing the highway ring of Antwerp. This

will also mark the city’s shift to a more sustainable model split. In addition,

Antwerp plans on relocating most of the highway underground in order to construct

a large ring park, that enables the city to shift the growth of the periphery

to the ring zone. Thereby stimulating the creation of a defined urban edge

along the inner-city and suburbs facing the ring; establishing a better connection

between the two. The Network City, wants to shift the city to a polycentric

structure, that is multimodal, and short-distance. It is thereby particularly looking

at strategic densification hubs in the suburban region, allowing this area to

achieve a higher degree of autonomy, while relieving the transport system in

the inner-city.

There is a certain duality in these plans; the first tries to reconnect the

city and its suburbs; the second almost tries to do the opposite. A clear spatial

plan for both of these projects is still missing. What also seems to be missing

is a strategy that directly tries to limit the growth of the periphery, as the city

is now relying on the quality and success of the two described plans. From a

population perspective, the city might be underestimating the effects the ring

project will have on the popularity and population growth of the city, and its effect

on the rise in property value. This might make the city’s densification plans

insufficient, and it may result in them not being able to house the demographic

they aspire to – families who left the city for cheaper housing. In extension,

it might then be a missed opportunity that the left bank – Linkeroever, Zwijndrecht,

and Burcht – is mostly left out of these plans.

This study will try to draft a strategy that allows the city to attain a

more polycentric structure, while maintaining a strong link between the inner-city

and suburbs. At the same time, it tries to apply spatial limitations to the

growth of the peripheral regions, and research ways to expand the densification

plans should the population increase more than expected. This is based

on the assumptions that the ring will be fully put underground, to simulate a

maximum densification scenario; and that Linkeroever, and Zwijndrecht and

Burcht, will therefore become part of the inner-city and suburban region,


respectively. The strategy will use the interplay between the set the rampart, the

traffic artery, and the park, as its main design approach – the three paradigms

which Antwerp used to define its city in the past. An interplay that enables it to

also establish cultural, recreational, climatic, and historical links throughout

the regions of the metropole.

The strategy proposed in this study is separated into (1) the metropolitan

region, (2) the suburban region, and (3) the inner-city region. For the first

(1), the strategy establishes a green belt around the city through the interaction

of the set; limits the growth of the periphery with the appointment of ecological

and economic radials; and positions the fortification spiral as the third structuring

element besides Antwerp’s radial-concentric system, to add a cultural, historic,

and recreational connection throughout the metropole. The second (2),

positions the inner fortification belt as a green necklace that links the various

economic, cultural, recreational, and ecological zones in the region together,

and defines the edge of the suburban region; and devises a polycentric

strategy in which the current radial shaped economic carriers in the region are

attached to the ring zone on one side, and the fortification belt on the other.

Thus, maintaining a serving function and spatial relation to the city. The third

(3), uses the water element of the ramparts to give thematic direction to the

ring park, with an inundation area on the left and small-scale water structures

on the right, which strengthens climate resilience, ecology, and heritage. And

finally, Linkeroever, Burcht, and Zwijndrecht are expanded by reading historical

and present structures, to root them more in their own history, and establish a

connection to the city.



Table of Contents

Introduction 11

I Exploratory Research

1.1 De Grote Verbinding

1.2 Historical-Morphological Analysis of Antwerp

1.3 Optimism, Realism, and Pessimism

1.4 Towards an Overarching Strategy for Antwerp

16 - 92

18

37

62

80

II The Metropolitan Region 94 - 122

2.1 De Stelling van Antwerpen

2.2 A Spatial Strategy for the Metropolitan Region

96

116

III The Suburban Region 124 - 175

3.1 The Suburban Fortification Belt

3.2 A Polycentric Strategy for the Suburban Region

4.1 The Green City Ring

4.2 A Densification Strategy for the Ring Zone

127

162

IV The City Region 176 - 278

178

228

Conclusion 281

Acknowledgements 286

Bibliography 289

List of Figures 308

Appendix

I List of highway caps and tunnels

II Morphological analysis of the ring zone of the

inner-city of Antwerp and Linkeroever

313 - 357

313

322



Introduction

Antwerp is on the eve of implementing two large structuring plans that are

going to change the face of the metropole forever. The first project is the socalled

Grote Verbinding (Big Connection). With this project the city of Antwerp

is going to rebuilt its city highway, the ring of Antwerp, in a multi-million-euro

project that is going to span the next ten to fifteen years. With it, the city

wants to tackle the large congestion problems it is currently facing through the

construction of the Oosterweel-link; a tunnel under the Scheldt that is going to

make the existing ring ‘round’. A completion that will also mark the city’s shift

to a cleaner modal split, with less motorised traffic and more cycling and public

transport. Parallel to this the city wants, on the long-term, to relocate almost

the entirety of the ring underground, in the most ambitious highway capping

project of the past 50 years. On top of this cap the city wants to build a lush

green ring park. A park that has the ability to shift the growth of the peripheral

regions to the area along the ring; the edge of the inner-city and suburbs.

Stimulating the creation of a defined urban edge and a better cohesion

between city and suburbs. In addition, the city wants to create a healthier and

more climate resilient city, that positions Antwerp as one of the most competitive

metropolitan regions in Europe; to attract new talent and investment to the

city.

At the same time the city wants to actively stimulate the growth of

its metropole into a multimodal, short-distance polycentric city; a Network

City as Antwerp calls it. With this move the city wants to shift the focus of the

densification to the so-called 20th century belt; the suburban region across the

ring. With the polycentric strategy the city wants to appoint strategic densification

hubs along existing multimodal hubs or large amenities in the suburban

region. Thereby allowing the suburbs to gain a higher degree of autonomy,

relieve the pressure on the exiting transport system of the inner-city, and also

slow down the growth of the peripheral regions.

Figure 0.0

Aerial photograph of Antwerp and its

suburbs (Google, 2020).

Within these two projects we find a certain duality. The ring project tries to

increase the connection between the city and its suburban region, through

the park and the urban edge. While the polycentric strategy, is almost doing

the opposite; creating a larger sense of autonomy through the stimulation of

polycentric hubs. At present a clear spatial plan for both of these projects is

11


still in development. For the ring project there have been several studies for the

design of the different ring park sections, but these still require further elaboration.

Regarding the polycentric development, we can only find the general

concept described above. There seems to be a plan missing that directly tries

to limit the growth of the periphery; currently the city is instead relying on the

quality and pull of the two previous plans. What also seems to be missing is an

overarching strategy that incorporates these two larger plans into the bigger

picture of the metropole.

Looking at it from a population perspective, we might be able to conclude

that Antwerp is underestimating, to some extend, the effects the capping

of almost the entire ring will have on the popularity and population growth

of the city, and how this in turn will affect the rise in property value along the

ring. As can be observed in similar projects around the world; these kinds of

plans have a drastic effect on the popularity and property prices of the areas

in their immediate vicinity. As a result, the municipality’s planned densification

efforts might not be enough to keep up with the demand. More specifically, the

city may then also not be able to house the demographic they aspire to in the

densification of the ring area – families who have left the city due to increasingly

smaller and expensive apartments. In extension of this, it might then be

a missed opportunity that the role of the left bank, that of Linkeroever and

the neighbouring villages of Zwijndrecht and Burcht, is largely missing in the

narrative of both of these plans. On this side of the river, the plans are more

half-hearted. The ring highway is not capped here, and due to the Oosterweel-link

its landscape might even become more segregated. At the same

time, we might be able to see hints of what Linkeroever’s role, and that of

Zwijndrecht and Burcht, are going to be in the future of the city. With the creation

of a multimodal P+R structure at the edge of Linkeroever, the inclusion in

the low-emission zone within the bounds of the ring, and the urban edge that

both Linkeroever, and Zwijndrecht and Burcht are getting, it seems that the city

might see them as long-term parts of the inner-city of Antwerp and suburban

region, respectively.

This study, in light of these findings, will try to draft a strategy that allows the

city to attain a more polycentric structure, while managing to maintain a strong

link between the inner-city and the suburban regions. At the same time, it

tries to apply spatial limitations to the growth of the peripheral regions, and

research ways to expand the densification plans should the population growth

increase more than expected due to the success of the ring project. This strategy

will be based around two assumptions. The first is the complete capping

of the ring on both the left and the right bank. This positions the ring project

as a scenario in which the ring park has the fullest potential to attract people

12


to the city, allowing for the exploration of a strategy that needs to maximise its

densification efforts. Expanding on this, the second assumption concerns the

role of the left bank. The strategy positions Linkeroever as part of the inner-city

of Antwerp, and Zwijndrecht and Burcht as part of the suburban region.

As its main design approach this strategy will lean on the interplay between the

set of the rampart, the traffic artery, and the park; three paradigms Antwerp

has used to define or enclose its city. The term ‘rampart’ pertains any reference

to the historical defensive structure of Antwerp during its time as National

Redoubt. The term ‘traffic artery’ is based on the ring highway of Antwerp,

but since Antwerp is shifting to more cleaner modes of transport, the term will

apply to any type of major transport. The term ‘the park’ includes any green

structure that has barrier like properties. The interplay mentioned is partially

observed in the current ring project, but fully in the design of the Leien; one of

Antwerp’s major inner-city traffic arteries. In the Leien the spirit of the former

Spaanse Omwalling lives on not just in the morphological shape of the traffic

artery and city park, but also in the rows of trees planted on the boulevard. A

reminder to the trees planted on the rampart. This creates a subtle historical

link that is used to contribute to the creation of a more pleasant atmosphere

on the boulevard. The interaction that occurs here in which an element from

one of the paradigms is used to solve a problem and/or improve the spatial

quality of one of the other paradigms, could be useful for the various goals

this strategy has. As traces of these three paradigms are already present in the

various stages of the metropolitan region.

Therefore, this study tries to provide an answer to the following research

question: How can the interplay between the set, the rampart, the traffic artery,

and the park, be used to developed a strategy that gives spatial direction to

Antwerp’s metropolitan region, its suburban region, and its inner-city?

In order to provide an answer to the main question, a number of sub-questions

have been posed. These questions relate to a specific region in Antwerp’s

metropole, and each form their own chapter. Leading up to these chapters,

chapter I will trace the past, present, and future of Antwerp to come to the

findings as discussed in the previous sections of this introduction. The chapter

will do so on the basis of an analysis of peer-reviewed and grey literature, and

spatial and historical analyses. The chapter will subsequently, combine these

findings and give a more elaborate explanation of the research question and

sub-questions posed in this study. The chapters following will all pertain to a

specific region in Antwerp’s metropole and start with a spatial and historical

13


analysis of the region’s past and present, before concluding with the strategy

relating to the specific region. The sub-questions related to these chapters are:

Chapter II: The Metropolitan Region

1. How did the system of the Stelling van Antwerpen in Antwerp’s period as

the nation’s National Redoubt work?

2. How is the relationship between the remnants of this system and major

ecological, morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in

Antwerp’s metropolitan region?

3. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery, and

the park – give spatial direction and definition to the metropolitan region?

Chapter III: The Suburban Region

1. What was the composition of the the inner fortification belts in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

2. How do the remnants of this composition relate to the major ecological,

morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

3. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery,

and the park – create a polycentric strategy for the suburban region, while

keeping a relationship to the inner-city of Antwerp?

Chapter IV: The City Region

1. What was the composition of the defensive structure of the inner-city and

Linkeroever?

2. What is the spatial response of the area adjacent to the ring in the inner-city

and suburban region?

3. What are the basic morphological characteristics of the city districts along

the ring?

4. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery, and

the park – give thematic direction to the green ring and create a densification

plan for the city and suburban districts along the ring, and Linkeroever

as part of the inner-city of Antwerp?

Following these chapters, chapter V holds the conclusion and reflection of this

study. Time-crunched readers may want to read the following selection: chapter

1.4, 2.2, 3.2, 4.2, and the conclusion. This includes the positioning of the

main research question, the main findings of all the chapters, and the design

for the three city regions.

14


15



I

Exploratory Research

1.1 De Grote Verbinding

1.2 Historical-Morphological Analysis of Antwerp

1.3 Optimism, Realism, and Pessimism

1.4 Towards an Overarching Strategy for Antwerp


1.1

De Grote Verbinding

On the project that is going to complete the ring of Antwerp

and change the interaction between the city and its suburbs.

In the upcoming years, Antwerp is going to rebuilt its city highway; the Ring of

Antwerp, in a multi-million-euro project. In this project that is going to span the

next ten to fifteen years, Antwerp wants to tackle the large congestion problem

that plagues the city. The current highway ring that circumferences three-quarters

of the city, will be completed through the controversial Oosterweel-Link.

A completion that will also mark a change in the city’s modal split; car- and

freight traffic will be guided around the city in a large curve, and travel to the

city itself will be nudged to public transport and (E-) bicycle.

Parallel to the completion of the ring, most of the highway will be

refurbished – intersections simplified, more bridges between city and suburb,

and measures to contain the noise- and air pollution. On the long term, the

ambition is to cover most of the ring under a green canopy; a highway cap.

A canopy that should increase the air quality and climate resilience of the city,

and connect the several loose green patches along the track of the highway.

Additionally, the covering of Antwerp’s ring should facilitate the refocus of urban

development from the peripheral areas, to the vicinity of the ring, creating

a defined façade for the city as well as its suburbs. Thereby stimulating the participation

of Antwerp’s suburbs in the metropolitan system, and changing the

relation between city and suburb. The largest changes, however, are reserved

for the left bank of Antwerp, for the district ‘Linkeroever’. A district that, after

completion of the Ring, could finally become an integral part of Antwerp.

This chapter will elaborate on the goal, the changes, and the effects

that the project ‘De Grote Verbinding’ will have on Antwerp and its suburbs,

and how the relationship between the former and the latter, and the city and

Linkeroever, could change as a result.

Over de Ring

What started as the ‘Over de Ring-project’ in November of 2016, with the

ambition memo ‘Over de ring, samen naar een aantrekkelijke metropool’,

has at the start of 2020 been dubbed ‘De Grote Verbinding’. Between 2017

and 2018, the different facets of the projects have been elaborated by six

design teams in consultation with the citizens of Antwerp and several stakeholders,

like the Flemish government, the municipality, the harbour, several

citizen movements, Lantis 1 and the intendant. 2 This has led to 18 ‘liveability

1.

Lantis (Leefbaar Antwerpen door

Innovatief Samenwerken) is the new

name of the Beheersmaatschappij Antwerpen

Mobiel (BAM); the government

company that is going to oversee the

construction of the ‘Oosterweel-Link’.

(Gazet van Antwerpen, 2019)

2.

The intendant is a position appointed

by the Flemish government to

oversee a certain project. Since

2018, professor Alexander D’Hooghe

has been appointed Intendant voor

de leefbaarheidsmaatregelen in de

Antwerpse Ringzone. He and his team

are to oversee the design process and

execution of the 18 highway cap and

liveability projects (Gazet van Antwerpen,

2018).

18


Figure 1.0 - Previous spread

Photograph taken above the Kennedytunnel

looking towards Linkeroever

(own image).

projects.’ These projects have been subdivided into seven ring parks, the

Oosterweel-Link and the Bridge over the Scheldt river (Municipality of Antwerp,

2019).

Seventeen ambitions, as described in the ambition memo, form the basis

of the seven ring parks, the Oosterweel-link, and the bridge. In short, these

seventeen points can be summarised by the follow goals: (1) Antwerp and

Flanders want to cap the Ring to become one of the most competitive metropolitan

regions in Europe; to attract new talent and investment to the city. The

covered ring with its, already large public facilities, is the perfect place to show

the vibrancy and cultural richness of the metropolitan life. (2) Creating a park

on the capped ring, and linking the loose patches of green together, will make

the city healthier, by reducing heat stress, flood risk, and sound- and noise

pollution. (3) Facilitating a more attractive ring zone, should shift the growth

of the city from the peripheral area to the new ring park. Thereby changing

the appearance of both city and suburb, breaking the existing barriers and

creating a larger connection. And (4) reducing peak traffic by increasing

alternatives to car- and freight traffic, like public transport or bicycle highways,

and pedestrian paths. Subsequently, also creating a larger connectivity in the

metropolitan region. The ring project, because of its scale, will be executed in

phases to generate success stories. Throughout the project, the ambition is to

collaborate with both citizens and experts. Estimations for the total project vary

between 6 and 8 billion euros (The Intendant for the liveability measures in

Antwerp’s ring zone, 2016a).

Figure 1.1

Map of the seven ring parks, the

Oosterweel-Link, and the bridge over

de Scheldt (The Intendant for the

liveability measures in Antwerp’s ring

zone, 2016a).

19


Towards a new modal split

As mentioned previously, the ring project and the Oosterweel-Link is going to

facilitate a modal shift to less car use and more use of public transport, cycling

and walking. The goal is to achieve a 50/50 split when the project is finished.

This ambition is not new; the ring project joins the ambitions of the Mobility

Masterplan of 2020, and subsequently 2030; and the plan of the province,

the ‘Routeplan 2030’. All these plans roughly describe the follow points to

decrease congestion and pollution, and to maintain its position in the metropolitan

agglomeration of the Flemish Diamond and the European Megalopolis

(or Blue Banana): (1) improving the capacity and quality of the current road

network, by disentangling the city- and regional traffic flows; (2) stimulate alternatives

for car- and freight transport, by improving via water (Albertkanaal),

railway, public transport and bicycle; and by enacting low-emission zones

(inner city and Linkeroever) and giving financial stimulation (for instance with

toll); (3) setup a network of park & ides (P+R’s) with multimodal transport possibilities

(car, public transport, E-bicycle) on a radial and tangent system to the

city and suburbs; and (4) create a high quality bicycle network (Municipality of

Antwerp, 2015; Flemish Government, 2018; The Intendant for the liveability

measures in Antwerp’s ring zone, 2016b).

A big curve around the city

To relieve the pressure of Antwerp’s Ring, regional and city traffic will be

separated after the completion of the ring project. Regional traffic will be

guided around the city in a large curve, through the so-called Harbour track

(Haventracé). This track is a collaboration on a larger scale between the city of

Antwerp and Ghent. It includes a shift from the now dominant E17-route (approaching

Antwerp from southwest), to the E34-route that gives direct access

to the harbour. At the side Ghent, the shift also facilitates better access to the

harbour, with a refurbishment of the R4 and conversion of the N49 (Flemish

Government, 2010). This shift will soften, to some extent, the noise- and air

pollution in Zwijndrecht and Burcht; the villages to the west of Linkeroever.

Passing the harbour, the regional traffic will use the only built part of

the R2, or Antwerp’s large highway ring (see chapter 2.1 for the history of the

R2); the Liefkenshoektunnel. Once through the harbour, the traffic will travel

through the new-to-be-built A102. A track that is part of the unrealised R2.

Specifics on the project are quite ambiguous; the current information describes

a road that is built below ground level (onder het maaiveld) that connects to

the E313. The type of tunnel and whether the A102 will be fully below ground

level is still un clear. Traffic to Brussels will be guided via the southeast section

of the ring, making it the only section to facilitate regional transport. Originally,

the plan was to extent the A102 tunnel to the intersection of the R11

20


with the E19 to Brussels, however, this failed to reach sufficient support from

the adjacent municipalities. The city is going to stimulate freight traffic to use

the bypass through the harbour by installing toll rates in the Kennedytunnel

and the new Scheldt tunnel (Flemish Government, 2018; Lantis, n.d.). Parallel

to the construction of the A102, a new rail connection to the harbour is

plannend, connecting to the railway going to Lier. This connection, along with

the Antigoontunnel (popularly called the Liefkenshoek railway tunnel) built in

2014, will relieve the freight transport in the Kennedytunnel and the ring zone,

which in turn offers opportunities for public transport, as well as that it stimulates

freight traffic via train. The construction of the A102 and the second rail

connection to the harbour has been pushed back till after the completion of

the Oosterweel-Link around 2024. The total project is estimated to cost 800

million to 1,00 billion euros (Flemish Government, 2010).

Once the Oosterweel-link is complete, the Charles de Costerlaan will be

disconnected from the highway. This cuts Linkeroever off as part of the highway

network, and its now, quasi function of ‘completing’ the ring. In the current

plans the section of the road from the highway until it reaches the edge of

Linkeroever will become a (very wide) bicycle and pedestrian corridor. What

will happen to the Waaslandtunnel, whether this road will remain a car tunnel,

is a of yet uncertain. It is however, currently one of the most unsafe car tunnels

in Belgium (Thijs, 2018; Crevits, 2008).

Scaling up the bicycle

Along with the untangling of the car and train network, the bicycle network is

improved and scaled up. The bicycle (and the pedestrian) is going to be the

most important link in trips shorter than five kilometres, in urban as well as

in suburban settings. Antwerp wants to achieve this by improving the bicycle facilities

on main traffic arteries, and by creating car-free zones on a neighbourhood

level. The city wants to join in on the E-bicycle trend to achieve bike connections

for distances greater than 15 kilometres. Regional bicycle corridors

will be expanded to handle the increased traffic, both radially and tangentially.

For the latter connection, the capped ring and the R11 are proposed as links

between Antwerp’s radial system of roads. The connections between urban and

rural areas will be improved, importantly for both daily residential and economical

traffic, as well as leisure travel. This network will mainly be built along

existing linear elements, like channels, highways, and railways, or the old system

of chaussee roads (steenwegen) to cater to an average speed of 15 to 25

km/h. A system like this will be, for a large part, outside of the municipalities

jurisdiction, and will require collaboration from Flanders and the province of

Antwerp. The majority of this network is already in place, the different mobility

21


E34 to

Knokke-Heist

And Gent's

harbour

Chaussee

to Gent

22

Chaussee

to Tempse

I I I I I I

The radial development

is especially visible in the

more rural part of the

Waasland.

This is the ferry route.

Chaussee

to Brussels

Zwijndrecht

Burcht

Inside the ring will become

low-emission zone

This road will be disconnected

from the highway.

A bus

Chaussee

to Aartselaar

and tram

Chaussee to

Bergen op

Zoom

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Train to

Ghent

E17 to

Ghent

Legend

I I I I I I

Highway

Bicycle

Train

Ferry

This will become the main route after Antwerp's ring is completed.

Chaussee with

public transport

This is the

Liefkenshoektunnel.

A12 to

Bergen op

Zoom

There will be no

highway lid on the

left side. Here the

intersections will just

be made compacter.

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Main track going through the harbour.

You can clearly see that

Antwerp developed along

the radial axes of its

chaussees.

Train to

Brussels

Harbour

This is the Oosterweel-Link.

the Scheldt

bridge will

be built here

A12 to

Brussel

This is the

Kennedytunnel.

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line will

be

al ong the ring.

built

This

is the

R 11.

Chaussee

to Brussels

Chaussee to

Roosendaal

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I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

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This section

E19 to

Brussel

will

Train

to Roosendaal

This is the

still be quite

b usy.

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Train

to Breda

new A102 car & train

Chaussee

to Breda

Chaussee

to Brecht

Chaussee

to Turnhout

Chaussee

to Nijlen

The P+R system

follows the old

chaussees network.

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Lier

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tunnel.

E19 to

Breda

E313 to

Eindhoven

and Maastricht

Three options for

the rail connection.

Train

to Lier

Train

to Lier

Train to

Mechelen &

Brussels


I

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Highway network

Highway network

Highway network

Highway network

plans mainly focus on building the missing links (Flemish Government, 2018;

Municipality of Antwerp, 2015).

Bicycle network

Bicycle network

Bicycle network

Bicycle network

The upcoming bridge over the Scheldt is going to be an important step in

realising the high-quality bicycle network discussed in the previous section;

a bridge that will only be accessible for pedestrians, public transport, and

cyclists. Due to its above ground connection, the bridge will be a faster alternative

to the ring area and city from the Waasland, than the current Kennedytunnel

and Sint-Annatunnel on Linkeroever. Which are often plagued with

congestion and safety issues. The bridge is going to be an important link in the

concentric connection that Antwerp is striving for in the ring zone; a concentric

connection that intersects all the major traffic corridors coming to the city

(Team West; De Urbanisten; Omgeving; COBE, 2018).

Railway network

Railway network

Railway network

Railway network

I I I

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Public transport network

Public transport network

Public transport network

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A system of park & rides

To stimulate less car-oriented traffic in the urban fabric, Antwerp is improving

and expanding its park & ride system. This includes scaling up the existing

P+R’s and building new ones at crucial highway intersections, like Linkeroever,

Merksem and Luchtbal, increasing the total parking capacity with 4000

vehicles. The public transport (mostly trams) at these P+R’s will be expanded to

transport people to the city for economic or recreational activities (Municipality

of Antwerp, 2020). The traffic arteries used to connect the P+R’s and the city

mainly follows the old system of chaussee roads, making this strategy a continuation

of their historic connecting function.

The ambition is to transform these P+R’s to multimodal transport

hubs to various destinations in the city and suburbs, and let them function as

not only as a transfer point for car traffic, but also for the previously mentioned

bicycle network. In addition to this, connections to a light rail or metro network

are researched (Municipality of Antwerp, 2015). The mobility plan mentions

increasing the attraction of using the P+R’s by adding certain facilities, like a

carwash or kiosk.

Figure 1.2

Map of the infrastructural changes of

the ring project (The Intendant for the

liveability measures in Antwerp’s ring

zone, 2016a).

More public transport

With the ambition of building a robust P+R network, minimising congestion

and car travel, and reducing noise- and air pollution, the city of Antwerp is not

only installing a low-emission zone within the bounds of the ring, but is also

going to invest in a better public transport network. Currently, tram and bus

traffic are plagued with increasing congestion and long delays (Flemish Government,

2018). Antwerp is predominantly focusing on scaling-up the tramway

network, only resorting to busses when no other option is available. A distinction

is made between urban tram tracks (stedelijke tram) and normal tram

23


tracks, it is unclear what this distinction entails (increased frequency, less stops,

etc.). In the upcoming years the possibility of installing tram rails on the quay,

the capped ring, and possibly the R11 will be researched. The capped ring

in this system is supposed to form the tangential link that is going to connect

the different radials coming to the city, much like in the previously mentioned

bicycle network. However, in contrast to the bicycle network, the public transport

will not go fully around the city, but stop at the P+R on Linkeroever (Team

West; De Urbanisten; Omgeving; COBE, 2018).

In addition to the tram improvements, the city wants to encourage travel via

water-, bicycle-, or regular taxis, possibly reserving separate lanes for this type

of traffic. For example, the municipality is looking into allowing more ferry

transport on the Albertkanaal, approaching the city from the east. The mobility

plan also describes the city’s interest in car sharing, stating that they want

to stimulate this, and are thereby joining in on the beginning transition from

car-ownership to car-access (Municipality of Antwerp, 2015).

The bigger picture

The Grote Verbinding will be an integral part of the Strategic Spatial Structure

Plan for Antwerp that is currently in development. An overview of the plan

outlining the main goals was released in 2018 in a memorandum. In this

document the city subdivides their ambitions into three groups: The Vibrant

residential city, the Smart network city, and the Resilient landscape (Department

of Urban development, Team Spatial planning, 2018, p. 3).

The first, the vibrant residential city, focusses on Antwerp’s housing

market; the city want to keep a healthy cross-section of the entire population.

Antwerp expects to grow with 30.000 new families by 2030. Half of the homes

needed for this are already planned, and for the other half they are counting

on the continuity of the market. They especially want to tackle the current trend

of families with children leaving the city in favour of the suburbs, by adding

more family apartments in their own projects, as well as stimulating the market

to do the same. Through changes in the building code, the city wants to nudge

the market to continue to build larger projects with collective space. Affordability

is a big reason why families are moving out. The city wants to cater to these

families, and prevent the downsizing of apartments as a result, by introducing

new financing options, like leaseholds or developing housing companies in

which the residents can buy shares (Department of Urban development, Team

Spatial planning, 2018, pp. 7-9).

The city makes a distinction between five areas in the city (see figure 1.3).

Antwerp wants to shift the densification focus to what they call the 20th century

belt – the suburbs across the ring, as this area already has a diverse range

of amenities available. They see areas along public transport hubs, on the

Figure 1.3

Drawing of the Vibrant Residential City

(Department of Urban development,

Team Spatial planning, 2018, p. 8).

24


periphery of green areas, or on larger and underutilised parcels as potential

locations for densification. Urban renewal and densification, according to the

city, should go hand in hand with creating pleasant public space and green

areas. Linkeroever is mentioned in its own category (Leap across the River),

however, not much is stated about its development, just that the “tradition of

master planning continues.” In the upcoming years Linkeroever will continue

to establish itself as: “A unique, green part of the city on the water, and as a

part of a regional landscape, from the river to beyond the Ring and the city’s

boundaries.” The ring project receives special attention as a means to densify

and interweave or connect the various parts of the city with each other, creating

new facades that face the Ring Park (Department of Urban development,

Team Spatial planning, 2018, pp. 10-13).

Figure 1.4

Drawing of the Smart Network City

(Department of Urban development,

Team Spatial planning, 2018, p. 20).

In the Smart network city section, the city elaborates on its vision to further develop

to a multimodal, short-distance city and the smart city of Flanders, leaning

on their wide spread of amenities in the city fabric, and their internationally

acclaimed port, maritime petrochemical cluster, and diamond and fashion

industry. Antwerp is committed to close and shorten urban cycles in terms of

energy, materials, drinking water and food. The city is developing a heating

grid for new and existing districts; a circular water management model, and

urban agriculture. Using data is mention, however not specifically. Shortening

distances on an economical and residential neighbourhood level is mentioned,

however, mostly in the sense of becoming more efficient in using space; i.e.

sharing offices, warehouses, cars (Department of Urban development, Team

Spatial planning, 2018, pp. 16-19).

In the spatial elaboration, Antwerp discusses their aim to densify

locations that are now often mono-functional, like supermarkets or hospitals.

Adding mixed programme at these locations will increase their economical

function and function to the neighbourhood. Antwerp also discusses the possibility

of creating “strategic hubs” at mobility hubs, like P+R’s, train stations,

or airports, because they connect several modes of transport. Expanding their

amenities might make them attractive places to spend time. The city explicitly

makes a distinction between functions that operate on a city or regional scale,

like hospitals, theatres, and museums; and neighbourhood functions, like supermarkets,

as a means of creating links in the city. Antwerp mentions explicitly

that they are going to continue to develop into a polycentric city with a wide

range of amenities in the city and neighbourhoods. Specific attention will go

in increasing mobility between the left and right banks, mentioning the bridge

over the Scheldt, improved ferry service, and the public transport tangent on

the ring (Department of Urban development, Team Spatial planning, 2018,

pp. 20-23, 35).

25


Noorderpark

This section will

receive a

combination of lids

and earthen walls.

Scheldepark

According to the

plans, Linkeroever

is also going to

get a defined

edge.

Earthen walls will be

built along the parts

of the highway that

are staying exposed.

Parts of

Zwijndrecht

and Burcht

are also going

to get

densified.

Linkeroever's nature

is still divided by the

highway in the current

plans.

Antwerp wants

to create a more

robust connection

between city and

suburb, by turning

streets into

avenues.

Antwerp is using

the covering of

the ring as a way

of densifying the

city.

Schijnvalley

Stream valley of

the kleine and grote

Schijn.

All the suburbs

will get a defined

edge ones the ring

is covered.

Legend

Highway

26

Green street

Morphology with defined edge

Ring Park

Contours suburb or village

Zuiderpark

The green ring of

Antwerp connects

to four larger ecological

zones to the west, north,

east and south.


Figure 1.5

Drawing of the Resilient Landscape

(Department of Urban development,

Team Spatial planning, 2018, p. 30).

With Resilient landscape, Antwerp want to restore its connection with the water

and increase the percentage of residents that live within walking distance of

public green (currently 61 percent), thereby creating a green-blue structure that

will help them become climate resilient. Regarding densification the city mentions

that it must constantly be weighed up against the additional requirements

it brings regarding the requirements for greenery, stating that taller buildings

could be an option to allow unpaved surfaces as much as possible. In the

inner-city they want to focus on eliminating as much paved surface as possible

to also improve heat stress and water problems; experimenting with garden

streets and greening the interior of building blocks. In addition, Antwerp

encourages private inhabitants to make gardens, green facades/roofs (Department

of Urban development, Team Spatial planning, 2018, pp. 26-28).

Antwerp established four types of green in the city: Green mist, Superparks,

Scheldtpark, and Ring Park. The first category established that there are

several loose patches of green scattered throughout the city (parks, in streets,

on facades, etc.), in which every opportunity needs to be seized to expand

them to the Ring Park with green streets. Connecting functions are reserved

for the latter three categories, with a special place for the Ring Park, that is

supposed to connect the local green with the regional nature. (Department of

Urban development, Team Spatial planning, 2018, pp. 29-31).

Figure 1.6

Map that shows the densification

along the ring zone and the concept of

the green ring and green radials (The

Intendant for the liveability measures in

Antwerp’s ring zone, 2016a).

Growing around the ring

With the capping of the ring Antwerp wants to facilitate a more attractive ring

zone that is no longer crippled under the effects of the highway. In doing so

the city is creating some well needed densification space. By increasing the

attractiveness of the ring zone, the city wants to shift the growth of the city from

the peripheral area to the vicinity of the ring. In doing so Antwerp want to

create a defined urban edge on the inner-city as well as the suburbs. With the

densification project the city wants to create an attractive environment for the

families that have left the city in recent years, in favour of the suburban region

or the peripheral area (Department of Urban development, Team Spatial planning,

2018, p. 43).

With the creation of the defined urban edge the city wants to change

the relationship between the inner-city and the suburbs. These zones now both

turn away from the ring zone, with the urban edge the city want to go from

turning their backs to each other, to facing one another. In the plans it seems

that Linkeroever, and also parts of Zwijndrecht and Burcht are also getting a

defined urban edge. As we have previously read, there is not yet a clear role

for Linkeroever in the city (The Intendant for the liveability measures in Antwerp’s

ring zone, 2016a, p. 11). In 2016, a design competition for Linkeroever

was launched by the city architect. Five projects won the competition,

27


however, none of these projects will become reality as the competition was

initiated to generate ideas on which direction to take. As of yet, there has been

no follow-up (Municipality of Antwerp, 2017). However, we might be able to

speculate, that with this urban edge, the instalment of the low-emission zone,

and the P+R structure, that Linkeroever might be transitioning to become more

urban or even part of the inner-city.

Currently Antwerp has 530.104 inhabitants in its metropolitan region, including

the historic city and suburbs. Roughly an increase of 50.000 inhabitants

since 2010 (Municipality of Antwerp, 2020). A prognosis made in 2008,

designed four scenarios for population growth between 2009 and 2030.

The ones that considered a positive migration index, projected a growth to

587.000 to 610.000 inhabitants (Rotthier, 2008, p. 4). A population projection

of LaboXX made in 2010, states that this projection has not been

completely accurate because it makes a wrong estimation of the number of

international immigrants coming to the city. Correcting for this, the research

designs two scenarios, one in which the population of Antwerp will grow to

610.000-622.00 by 2030; and the other in which the large influx of immigrants

will continue till 2030, which would mean a growth to 714.000

inhabitants (LaboXX, 2010, pp. 2, 54). Since we are now at the halfway point

– 2020 – we can check both projections to see which one is closest to reality.

Comparing both graphs, we see that the most positive scenario of the Antwerp’s

projection comes closest to the current situation; LaboXX’s projection is

already at or above 550.000 in 2020. That being said, it is probably too early

to make definitive conclusions. With the ring project that is going to greatly

increase the liveability of the city, and probably its international image and

pull, we might see a stronger immigration pattern once the city comes close to

finishing the project. The Demografische vooruitzichten 2016-2060; bevolking

en huishoudens expects that Belgium cities, like Brussels, Liege, and Antwerp

will continue to see a strong international migration pattern until 2060 (Federaal

Planbureau & Algemene Directie Statistiek, 2017, p. 38). And perhaps we

should also not underestimate the pull that an increase in family apartments

can have on all the families that have left the city in recent years.

The green ring around the city

With the ring park the city wants to link all the loose green patches around

the current ring together, and make the city healthier, by reducing heat stress,

flood risk, and air and noise pollution. The city mentions in its water plan

that it wants to research how the ring park might contribute to the city’s water

system (De Urbanisten; Witteveen+Bos; Common Ground, 2019). Antwerp

wants to subsequently connect this green ring to the four green radials entering

28


Figure 1.7

Image of the four large ecological

structures entering the city (Municipality

of Antwerp, 2020).

Figure 1.8

The concept of the Bermenlandschap.

The shoulders of the highway will first

be raised and made greener pending

a total capping of the highway at a

later date (over de ring, n.d.).

the city, that connect to larger green structures in the peripheral areas. For Linkeroever

the green radial does not actually connect to the ring park as it does

on the right side of the river, here the green radial – the Scheldt river valley – is

actually part of the ring park itself (Municipality of Antwerp, 2020).

Not capping immediately

The highway ring is not going to be capped in one go; because capping the

ring is a costly affair, most sections will first receive what the project team is

29


calling a Bermenlandschap (highway schoulder landscape). In this Bermenlandschap

the shoulders of the road are raised and made greener, as the

above image shows, to reduce noise and air pollution to some extent, and to

increase the liveability of the area directly facing the highway. Once a highway

cap is imminent, the cap can be attached to the Bermenlandschap (over de

ring, n.d.). Looking at the cross sections it seems that the ring is lowered to

some extent, but still sticks out quite a bit once the cap is installed.

2

1

Figure 1.9

The urban plan for Linkeroever as

part of the ring park (Team West; De

Urbanisten; Omgeving; COBE, 2018).

Linkeroever

Figure 1.9 shows the urban plan for Linkeroever as currently proposed by

Team West; a design team consisting out of De Urbanisten, Omgeving, and

COBE. In this plan the larger intersections currently in the landscape of Linkeroever

are going to be rebuilt to be compacter, and the Bermenlandschap

is also going to be installed here to some extent. Where in other plans the intention

of fully capping the highway at one point in the future is discussed, the

plan for Linkeroever mentions no such ambition. This could have something to

do with the highway lying on a dyke in the southern section of Linkeroever. The

biggest change in the highway landscape of Linkeroever, is the construction of

the Oosterweel-link; the new tunnel on the northern side that is going to make

Antwerp’s ring round (Team West; De Urbanisten; Omgeving; COBE, 2018).

Another important topic is the creation of the ring park on this side

of the river. For this, the plan actually does not propose very much, other than

that it creates three wildlife bridges, that are supposed to increase the cohesion

between the segregated landscape that is Linkeroever’s ecological zone (Team

30


West; De Urbanisten; Omgeving; COBE, 2018). What is missing in the design

is a (urban) plan for the city district itself. There are a few areas in the plan that

show some kind of densification, but no real explanation is given for this.

The plan does indicate the position of the P+R structure of Linkeroever, near

the intersection of the highway with the Blancefloerlaan (1). The highway exit

of Linkeroever will therewith be relocated to that P+R structure. The current exit

will be turned into a green boulevard, that extends to the new Scheldt bridge

to the south. The Charles de Costerlaan (2), the boulevard that is going to be

disconnected from the highway, can here be seen to end in a bicycle bridge

going over the highway. What happens at the other end, at the Waaslandtunnel,

is still unclear.

Conclusion

Figure 1.10

A new modal split.

Hoort bij Antwerpen A new model split

Verkeerssysteem voor Verkeerssysteem na

From the analysis of Antwerp’s current plans, we can conclude that the city is

striving for a modal shift in which the number of trips per car are reduced to

50 percent of all travel movements, with the other half being covered by public

transport, bicycles, and walking. The city is doing this by installing several

new P+R structures in and around the city region, at the exits of the highways.

Antwerp is also facilitating this modal shift by separating the passenger

and freight traffic, with a new highway and railway connection through the

harbour. This will direct all the through and freight traffic around the city in a

large curve, and thus freeing up space in the existing railway system in the city,

allowing for more passenger traffic. In addition to the untangling, Antwerp is

going to install tolls on the ring around the city for freight traffic, and establish

a low-emission zone within the bounds of the ring.

Radiaal stadsmodel

31


To a radial-concentric city model

With the ring project, Antwerp is going to start to transition from a radial to a

radial-concentric city model. This is facilitated by the instalment of the extensive

bicycle highway and public transport network along the ring park, and the

new railway and highway through the harbour and past the suburbs. The city is

even mentioning the intention of extending the latter concentric connection to

the south in some form of highway, railway, or public transport. These changes

tie into Antwerp’s plans to become a polycentric city.

rkeerssysteem rssysteem na na Linkeroever Radiaal Radiaal as part stadsmodel of the inner-city

Radiaal-concentrisch

Naar Naar binnen binnen gekeerd gekeerd

It seems that with all the interventions happening; the stadsmodel

completion of the ring

and disconnecting the Charles de Costerlaan from the highway network; the

implementation of the P+R system at the borders of the ring road and the

instalment of the low-emission zone; and the defined edge that Linkeroever is

going to get, that the city district could be making the shift to become part of

the inner-city of Antwerp. Instead of, like it seems to be currently, being connected

more to the Waasland; the region to the west of the city. As of yet, the

city has no clear vision for Linkeroever.

Figure 1.11

From a radial to a radial-concentric

city model

Figure 1.12

Linkeroever as part of the inner-city of

Antwerp?

Hoort bij Waasland Hoort bij Antwerpen Verkeerssysteem voor V

32


Figure 1.13

A defined urban edge for the ring

park.

Towards a paradigm shift.

Verbonden (groene ring) Geen rand Stedelijke rand

With the construction of the ring park, the city wants to refocus the growth

of the peripheral areas to the ring zone and thereby create a defined urban

edge on both the side of the inner-city and the suburbs. With this densification

strategy, the city wants to initiate a paradigm shift in the relationship between

the city and its suburbs; from two districts that are currently facing away from

each other, the city was to go to districts that are turning towards each other.

Thereby stimulating a better connection. With this densification the city wants

to increase its share of apartments for families. Special care is taken towards

making these homes affordable, via leaseholds or by developing housing companies

in which residents can buy shares.

Figure 1.14

From turning away to facing each

other.

Radiaal-concentrisch

stadsmodel

With the ring park the city wants to connect the several loose green patches

Naar binnen gekeerd Verbonden (groene ring) Geen rand

around the current ring, and make the city healthier, by reducing heat stress,

flood risk, and air and noise pollution. In doing so the city wants to become

one of the most competitive metropolitan regions in Europe, in an effort to attract

new talent and investment to the city. Antwerp wants to use the Ring Park

as the link between the green areas in the city and the larger scale regional

nature areas. Attaching the green in the city through green streets to the Ring

33


park, and attaching the Ring Park to the regional nature via green radials.

This should lead to an increase in the percentage of residents that live within

walking distance of public green.

Polycentric development of the suburban region

Further densification should mainly be done in the twentieth century belt; the

suburbs on the other side of the ring. Preferably at areas that have a multimodal

transport hub (like train stations, or P+R’s), or some kind of large-scale

amenity like a hospital. The city wants to use this to transition into a polycentric,

multimodal, and short distance city. However, a clear spatial plan is currently

still missing on where these strategic locations are. This plan is currently

being developed.

Population projections

With the current population projections, it seems that Antwerp will have

enough homes to keep up with the population trend. However, there need

to be two side notes. The first is that we might see a greater domestic and

international migration pattern once the Ring project comes close to finishing,

or when it is finished. The second is that all the family apartments that Antwerp

wants to build in the upcoming years, can have a greater than expected pull

on the families that have left the city in recent years.

34


35


36


1.2

Historical-Morphological

Analysis of Antwerp

On the development of the city along the river the Scheldt

The first mentioning of a settlement near the Scheldt is speculated to be

around 250 A.D. in the name of two Roman settlements; Scaldis (Scheldt in

Latin) and Scinda (The Schijn). The subsequent Dark Ages marked a period of

shifting country borders for Antwerp under the rule of the Frankish Empire, in

which the Scheldt became a national border on multiple occasions, as a result

of the subsequent treaties of Verdun, Meerssen, and Ribbemont. Antwerp became

a stronghold with a moat at the hands of the Normans, who conquered

the settlement in 836. Under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, the Margraviate

of Antwerp (Graafschap van Antwerpen) was established in 974. The city

subsequently received town privileges (stadsrechten), in 1221 by Duke Henry II

of Brabant. The city kept holding a strategic position at the border of the Holy

Roman Empire, reachable by land and by sea which played an important role

in its development. Until the signing of the Treaty of Senlis in 1493, the Scheldt

served as a border between the landgraviate of Brabant (to which Antwerp

belonged) and the landgraviate of Flanders, which belonged to France. With

this country border alleviated, and the Scheldt now reachable via the Western

Scheldt (de Westerschelde), the city flourished as an international trading hub

and port city, allowing the city to grow. Antwerp was subsequently appointed

the most important trading city of the Northern Netherlands, by Emperor

Charles V (Karel V). These events roughly mark the city’s entrance to its golden

age, which leads us to the drawing of figure 1.5 (Broeders, et al., 2017, pp.

52-119).

The following pages will describe the morphological development of

Antwerp over the course of its history. Specifically, this chapter’s overall goal is

to see how the relationship between the inner-city and its suburbs developed,

and the relationship between the left and right side of the river.

37


Oisterweele

Merxem

Zwijndrecht

Opt’ Veer

Doorn

St. Willebrord

Borcht

Berchm

Hoboekem

Luythagen

Wilryck

Mortsele

38


Figure 1.15

A map of Antwerp in 1573. Derived

from the Ostium Scaldis fluvii cum

insulis quas efficit of Christiaan Sgrooten.

(KBR Belgica, n.d.)

1573

The map to the left shows Antwerp at the end of its golden age and on the eve

of the Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585) during the Eighty Years’ War (1568-

1648). The city of Antwerp is here enclosed by the Spaanse Omwalling, built

by Charles V to replace the medieval wall, and establish Antwerp’s role as

important trading hub. The wall was five kilometres long and comprised of

nine bastions and had four monumental, Renaissance gates. The outside of

the rampart was made out of brick, the inside out of earth (Gazet van Antwerpen,

2015). After the abdication of Charles V, the empire was split in two

parts; a Spanish and an Austrian part (which continued the flag of the Holy

Roman Empire). Antwerp and the entirety of the Netherlands fell under the

domain of the Spanish Empire. A distain for the Spanish, economic decline,

and religious tension (Catholic Spain v. Protestant Netherlands), resulted in a

revolt which ultimately led to the Eighty Years’ War. In response to the rebelling

Netherlands, the Duke of Alva ordered the construction of the Citadel of

Antwerp (south section of the rampart), a pentagonal bastion fort, in the early

days of the Dutch Revolt (1567-1572) to defend and quell any resistance from

Antwerp’s in habitants. This explains the large open area to the north of the

fort (the esplanade); to have a clear field of fire (Michielsen, 2016; Military

Heritage Antwerp, n.d.).

On the map we see three roads going to the small villages of Merxem,

Doorn (what will become Deurne) and Berchem, followed by Luythagen.

These roads were the start of the Belgian chaussee roads (Steenwegen)

(Wegen-Routes.be, 2016). On the left side of the river, at that point in time

called the Borgerweertpolder, we see Fort Vlaamsch Hoofd, built in 1568 to

defend the left bank. The fort was later popularly called Fort Opt’ Veer or Fort

‘t Veer, because of the ferry services between Sint Anne (or Sint Anneke) – the

settlement on the Borgerweertpolder – and Antwerp (Verbraeken, 2018a).

On the south side of the left bank we see a road meandering towards Borcht

(later Burcht) and Zwijndrecht. There are several other forts along the dyke of

the polder; starting from the south we see the Sconce (schans) of Borcht (1),

Redoubt Melkhuis (2), Fort Tholouse (3), the Loopschans (4), and the sconce

Melsensluis (5) (Van Ham & University of Leiden, n.d.).

Images and maps (see chapter 4.1) have illustrated that the Borgerweertpolder

was used as inundation area during the Siege of Antwerp.

The entire section could become overrun with water by puncturing the dykes

surrounding the peninsula. The water of the Scheldt was much easier to control

up until the development of the harbour, which narrowed and deepened the

river, leading to the 6-metre tidal difference it has today (De Urbanisten; Witteveen+Bos;

Common Ground, 2019, p. 32).

39


Oosterweel

Merxem

1

6

Swijndrecht

Fort t’ Veer

5

Doorn

Crayehof

2

St. Willebrord

3

Burcht

4

Berchm

Hobokem

Luythagen

Wilryck

Mortsele

40


1664

The map to the left shows Antwerp a few years after the signing of the Treaty of

Münster that marked the end of the Eighty Years’ war between the then Republic

of the Seven United Netherlands and the Spanish Empire. The map shows

that the Spaanse Omwalling was reinforced with several ravelins at the east

entrance of the city, and that the Citadel was enlarged with three ravelins.

On the left bank we see a new linear east-west connection between

Antwerp and the hinterland. The limited literature available on this road, suggests

that this is a dyke called the ‘Grote Groene Weghe’ that was supposed

to give access to Antwerp in the event that the Borgerweertpolder was inundated.

The three diagonal waterways connecting to the road seem to confirm

this (Antrop, De Maeyer, & Vandermotten, 2006, p. 19). The result of these

inundations is visible in the landscape of the polder in the form of the Geuzeweel

(1), the Galgeweel (2), and the Burchtse weel (3), which all formed after

dyke breaches. Probably due to one of the inundations during the Siege of

Antwerp in the Eighty Years’ War (Antwerpse Vereniging voor Bouwhistorie en

Geschiedenis, n.d.; Verbeeck, 1944, p. 166). We also see a new road along

the northern side of the Borgerweertpolder called the Scheldeweg (Scheldt

road).

We see that many forts and sconces have been discontinued after

the war. The Sconce (schans) of Borcht (4) is still visible, we further see a few

new redoubts at the end of the diagonal waterways and an unnamed fort/

sconce (5) north of Fort t’ Veer that was sometimes connected to Antwerp with

a pontoon bridge. Further to the north we see the early development of Fort

Isabelle (6), and continuing to the west we see three new unnamed sconces.

Near Swijndrecht we see the newly built Fort Laer, built in 1638 by the Spanish

(Verbraeken, 2018b).

Figure 1.16

A map of Antwerp in 1664. Derived

from the Flandria illustrate of Antonius

Sanderus, and a more detailed map of

Antwerp by Joan Blaeu (BnF Gallica,

n.d.; Oudelandkaarten.eu, n.d.).

1846

The map on the next page shows Antwerp halfway through the 19th century.

Between this map and the previous one, Antwerp has had four different rulers.

After the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the Southern Netherlands

again belonged to the Holy Roman Empire under Charles VI according

to the Treaty of Utrecht. Subsequently in 1795 after the Battle of Fleurus, the

Southern Netherlands were annexed by France, and in 1799 after Napoleon’s

Coup of 18 Brumaire, fell under his rule. In 1814-1815 after the Napoleonic

Wars, the Treaty of Paris was signed which ultimately led to the formation of the

United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Which added the Southern Netherlands

to the reign of William I (Willem I der Nederlanden). However, this did not last

long, because of growing unrest due to, among other things, a difference in

religion (Catholic in the south and Protestant in the north) and general lack of

41


Ekeren

Austruweel

Merxem

6

3

1

8

Zwijndrecht

5

Tête de

Flandres

4

St. Willebrord

Borgerhout

Deurne

Crayehof

7

Burcht

Berchem

Ruytemberg

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Mortsele

42


Figure 1.17

A map of Antwerp around 1846 (Geopunt,

n.d.; Felix-Archief, n.d.).

autonomy, the south began to rebel in 1830; called the Belgian Revolution.

This was resolved in the London Conference of 1830 were the major powers

of Europe recognized the secession of Belgium, establishing Belgium’s

independence. It took until 1839 for William I to accept this with the Treaty of

London, which defined borders between the United Kingdom of the Netherlands

and the Kingdom of Belgium. Under Leopold I, the Kingdom of Belgium

became a constitutional monarchy (Broeders, et al., 2017, pp. 192-269).

On the map to the left we see that the Spaanse Omwalling was

further reinforced with ravelins to the north and south, and that the Citadel was

strengthened with to lunettes pointing to the south. We also see a large new

lunette; the Lunette of Herentals (Hebbelinck & Plomteux, 2009).

The defence system on the Borgerweerpolder has been increased considerably

since the previous map. We see that Fort Isabelle (1) has been developed to a

lunette, and that a new lunette was built near the Galgeweel; Fort Burcht (2).

We see that Fort Vlaams Hoofd has been rebuilt to a star fort (or bastion fort)

and that a lunette (Fort Calloo; 3) and a pentagonal fort (Fort Zwijndrecht;

4), along with a defensive moat have also been built. This development was

initiated by the French, who wanted to establish Antwerp as an international

trading city, after the reopening of the Scheldt river in 1792 (Enthoven & Van

der Maas, 2015). Shifting the main economy from a textile to trading. The

Borgerweertpolder was supposed to have a key role in this. Napoleon had

big plans for the Borgerweertpolder, as he wanted to build an entirely new city

there. This was the first time in history that the polder was viewed as not only a

place for military usage, but also as a place for residential development. The

new city would receive the name Ville Marie-Louise, and would get an arsenal,

shipyards, and residential barracks. A temporary pontoon bridge was supposed

to connected the two sides of the river (Schoofs, 2003a). We also see

the delicate pattern of ditches of the Borgerweertpolder for the first time.

We further see the leftovers of Fort Stengel (5), a fort built by the French to defend

the chaussee to Ghent. The Dutch later demolished it, because enemies

could also capture it and use it as a base of operations (Verbraeken, 2014c).

At the start of the peninsula we see that the Blokkers dyke (6) has been extended

to the south with the Suyker dyke (7).

The focus of the French, and later William I, on the development of

the harbour left its marks on the city, with the creation of the le petit basin (7)

and subsequently the le grand basin (8); the current Bonapartedok and the

Willemdok respectively. And the channel from Antwerp to Herentals to the

north of the city, outside of the ramparts.

This is the first map that shows morphology. We see that Borgerhout,

Deurne, Berchem, Merxem, and also Zwijndrecht have developed as linear

settlements along the chaussee roads. On the left bank, we see that another

43


Ekeren

Austruweel

Merxem

Zwyndrecht

Tête de

Flandre

St. Willebrord

Deurne

Borgerhout

Burcht

Berchem

Ruytemberg

Rooy

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Mortsele Moortsel

44


dyke has been made to cater to the chaussee road connecting Antwerp to

Ghent, and that this has been connected, quite pragmatically, to the historic

road in Zwijndrecht. The creation of this chaussee, in the 18th century, also

establish the visual axis with the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of

Our Lady) still present today. We also see that the train has made its entrance,

with a connection to Ghent from Vlaamsch Hoofd. And the Iron Rhine (IJzeren

Rijn), which connects Antwerp to Weert and Roermond, and Mönchengladbach

(Broeders, et al., 2017, p. 287). And the Railway to Roosendaal.

1897

The map to the left shows Antwerp’s time as National Redoubt. Antwerp’s

appointment as National Redoubt was a measure to centralise the defence of

Belgium after its independence in 1939. As defending the whole country would

be unrealistic. In the even that Belgium would come under attack, the King,

parliament, the army, and other important members of society, could retreat

to Antwerp. Awaiting foreign aid. Antwerp was chosen over other city’s like

Brussels due to its position along the Scheldt (Nagels, 2012, p. 48; Busschots,

2014).

The Grote Omwalling is now enclosing the city, and thereby replaces

the Spaanse Omwalling which has now been incorporated into the fabric of

the city as the Leien and the city park (1). The Grote Omwalling increased the

Figure 1.18

Antwerp’s entire defence system during

its period as the Belgium’s National

Redoubt (Van de Sijpe, n.d.).

Figure 1.19

Map of Antwerp around 1897 (Topotijdreis,

n.d.; Felix-Archief, n.d.).

45


Ekeren

Austruweel

Merxem

Zwyndrecht

Vlaamsch

Hoofd

Deurne

Borgerhout

Morkhoven

Burcht

Berchem

Groenenhoek

Kiel

Berchem

Nachtegaalshoek

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Motsele Mortsel

46


city’s surface by a factor of five, giving much needed space to a very populated

city. It thereby also enclosed several neighbouring villages like Borgerhout

and Berchem, and parts of the harbour (Verboven, 2018b). The city also started

on the construction of fortification belts some distance from the city, 4 and

14 kilometres respectively. Of which we see the 4 kilometres variant partially

on the map; the Brialmont belt (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014,

pp. 76-77). More about this defence system in chapter 2.1. The creation of

the Brialmont belt also marked the entrance of the R11, or the Krijgsbaan as

it was called back then. The supply road would be equipped with a train and

telegraph line sometime after.

Another big change in the city is the straightening of the quays, which happened

between 1877 and 1885. This was a direct result of Antwerp’s growing

harbour, which was still predominantly focussed around the quays (Broeders, et

al., 2017, p. 286). We also see several new train lines added on the right side

of the river, and a new station on the location the is now being redeveloped to

the district Nieuw Zuid. Travellers could use this station to take the ferry to the

Vlaamsch Hoofd on the Borgerweertpolder.

On the left bank we see that Sint-Anneke, the village near the fort, has started

to expand in a linear fashion along the chaussee to Ghent, and along the

shore to the north. And we see that a defensive dyke has been added behind

the wet moat around the Vlaamsch Hoofd.

Figure 1.20

A map of Antwerp around 1933 (Cartesius.be,

n.d.; Topotijdreis, n.d.).

1933

The map shows us Antwerp during the Interbellum. We see that the space in

the Grote Omwalling was all but filled, and that the harbour has started to

expand rapidly, even beyond the bounds of the ramparts. The notion also

started to sink in, in the Interbellum, that a defensive concept of defensive forts

and inundation areas was no longer effective. Which marked the decline of the

defensive structures in and around the city (Schoofs, 2003a).

As a result of a growing need for space, the city turned its attention

(again) to the left side of the river. In 1923, the province of Antwerp bought

Linkeroever, and Zwijndrecht and Burcht, from the Province of East-Flanders.

Linkeroever was to become part of the municipality of Antwerp; Zwijndrecht

and Burcht, kept their own municipality (Zwijndrecht). This was the first time in

its history that there was no border between the right and the left side, meaning

that Antwerp could finally expand to the other side of the river (Schoofs,

2003a).

In light of an impending urbanisation of the left bank, the Intercommunale

Maatschappij van de Linker-Scheldeoever (Imalso) was founded in

1929. The foundation started to systematically raise the polder with sand from

47


Ekeren

Luchtbal

Austruweel

Merxem Merksem

Zwyndrecht

Sint Anna

Deurne

Borgerhout

Morkhoven

Burcht

Berchem

Groenenhoek

Kiel

Berchem

Nachtegaalshoek

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Motsele Mortsel

48


Figure 1.21

The masterplan of De Heem and

Vanaverbeke from 1934 (De Klauw,

2016).

the Scheldt, visible in the north-eastern section of Linkeroever. Burying parts

of Linkeroever’s now redundant defensive structure. As a side effect of these

events, the northern side developed into a popular recreational spot; the Sint

Anna beach. A beach that is still used today. In the wake of the urbanisation,

Imalso started to construct two tunnels that would connect both sides of the

river; The Waaslandtunnel and the Sint-Annatunnel, an automobile and pedestrian

tunnel respectively. The former connected to the Tunnellaan, a road that

connect to the northern side of the Leien, and via a diagonal to Zwijndrecht.

De pedestrian tunnel connects to Fort Vlaamsch Hoofd. The tunnels opened

in 1933. During the construction of the tunnels, the city launched an international

design competition for the development of Linkeroever as a city district.

Several heavy weights took part in the competition, like Le Corbusier. Large

utopian plans were submitted, as stimulated by the city itself. No first prize

was ever issued. Instead the architects De Heem and Vanaverbeke unofficially

developed a plan for the district that would be (partially) executed after World

War II. As was fashionable at the time, their plan was largely inspired by modernistic

principles, with large green boulevard for cars (Schoofs, 2003a).

Figure 1.22

A map of Antwerp around 1952 (Cartesius.be,

b; Topotijdreis, n.d.).

1952

The map to the left shows Antwerp after the Second World War. We see that

the Grote Omwalling is starting to get dismantled. Along the northern section

49


Ekeren

Luchtbal

Merxem Merksem

Zwyndrecht

Linkeroever Sint Anna

Sint Anna

Deurne

Morkhoven

Burcht

Groenenhoek

Kiel

Berchem

Middelheim

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Motsele Mortsel

50


of the city, the Albert Canal has received its current shape, and now connects

to the new parts of Antwerp’s harbour.

On the left side of the river, big changed have occurred. The grid,

that is so familiar for Linkeroever has been constructed, on a now almost fully

raised landscape. All the fortifications, except for the moat and fort Burcht, and

sections of the ditch structure, have disappeared under sand from the Scheldt.

The grid structure present on Linkeroever was based on the plan of De Heem

and Vanaverbeke, but not identical. After the war, the idea of building one

coherent plan had made place for a pragmatic sector division that filled the

grid with various building typologies. To the north, we see the structures of the

popular recreational spot Sint Anna beach, which was at its peak after the war.

Further to the west we see an extensive grid pattern; the remnants of Camp

Tophat, an American repatriation camp from after World War II. Parts of this

grid structure is still visible in the current Sint Annabos (Schoofs, 2003a). We

further see the construction of the yacht club on the east side of Linkeroever,

and that the railway structure has become more extensive with a turn structure

near Galgeweel.

Figure 1.23

Map of Antwerp around 1969 (Cartesius.be,

c; Topotijdreis, n.d.).

1969

The map of 1969 shows the explosive growth the suburban region of Antwerp

has experienced in the post-war baby boom. We also see that the harbour has

grown quite substantially from the previous map. Another notable change is

the removal of the Grote Omwalling in favour of the highway ring of Antwerp;

the R1.

The highway was planned since the end of the 1950s. In 1958, a

royal decree determined the track of the highway ring around Antwerp. The

construction started in the early 1960s and was completed by 1969. The highway

follows the contours of the ramparts, and all the major junctions are located

at the lunettes of the ramparts; these locations held a lot of space. Only

two small sections of the lunettes have been preserved in the southern part of

the city. In the north, about half of Noordkasteel has survived, but this would

soon also be further reduced. The track of the Omwalling was used because it

was lower than the other parts of the city and suburbs. However, this means the

highway also runs on the track of an old water way, which means the highway

needs to be constantly dewatered (De Urbanisten; Witteveen+Bos; Common

Ground, 2019, p. 32). The ring also marked the third Scheldt crossing; the

Kennedytunnel. A tunnel for cars opened in 1969. Left of the tunnel, we can

still see the dry dock used to construct the tunnel segments. To the right of

the tunnel a train tunnel was built, that connect the train from the Waasland

directly to the city, in a track along the ring. This train tunnel would soon mean

the departure of the train station on Linkeroever (1971). Almost simultaneously

51


Ekeren

Luchtbal

Merxem Merksem

Zwyndrecht

Linkeroever Sint Anna

Deurne

Morkhoven

Burcht

Groenenhoek

Kiel

Berchem

Middelheim

Hoboken

Wilryck

Luythagen

Motsele Mortsel

52


with the design of the R1, a larger ring around the city was planned to prevent

congestion; the R2. However, this was delayed, and later scrapped due to

heavy protests from the neighbouring municipalities. One section of the R2

was constructed in 1991, a section that goes through the harbour, called the

Liefkenshoektunnel (Wegen-Routes.be, 2016).

On Linkeroever we see that several sectors have been developed. The sector

division has resulted in a mix of mostly low-rise buildings; semi-detached, rowhouses,

or villas. We also see the start of the high-rise blocks on Linkeroever. In

1961 a design competition for Parkwijk was issued, the current Europark is the

result of this. Following in the 1960s and 1970s several high-rise apartment

block would be built. This allowed living in higher densities and the height of

the buildings gave Linkeroever somewhat of an urban skyline. However, these

high-rise flats severely increased the contrast in the areas (Schoofs, 2003b).

Further to the west we see that a road that would later become part of the

ring of Antwerp has been constructed and connected to the Tunnellaan. In the

northern side of Linkeroever, we see that the Sint Anna beach is slowly diminishing

in size. We further see that the Galgeweel, has received its final shape,

and we also see the start of Blokkersdijk, the body of water to the north-west.

Middenvijver is the only part the is still not raised with sand. We see remnants

of the ditch structure here, and what would be the start of a monumental axis

in the plan of De Heem and Vanaverbeke.

2019

This map shows the city and Linkeroever in its current state. We see that the

suburbs and city have further grown around the ring. The train station in the

south has been removed to make way for the palace of justice at the southern

end of the Leien, and we also see the development of a new city district;

Nieuw Zuid. A neighbourhood that should be finished by 2030 (Municipality

of Antwerp, n.d.). We see that the ring on the left side of the river has been extended

further to the north to connect to a section going to Knokke-Heist. This

also meant the birth of the Charles de Costerlaan, the second highway exit on

Linkeroever, that feeds the Waaslandtunnel, and currently quasi completes the

ring. The diagonal of the Tunnellaan has been redubbed to Dwarslaan, and

remains detached.

Figure 1.24

Map of Antwerp in 2019 (OpenStreet-

Map, n.d.).

On Linkeroever we see that the northern sectors have received development.

There are several new high-rise flats, and a new villa district at the eastern

edge of Linkeroever. A tram line has also been built on Linkeroever. This line

runs on the Blancefloerlaan – the old chaussee road with the visual axis to

the cathedral – all the way to the edge of Zwijndrecht. Via the fourth Scheldt

53


tunnel; the Brabotunnel (1990) this tunnel connects to the city of Antwerp

(Antwerpen stad, n.d.).

The middle section has also been further developed. The infamous

Chicago building has taken residence here; the highest of the high-rise on Linkeroever,

which now almost exclusively hold social housing. The flat is known

for its drug and criminal milieu (Verelst, 2005). Around 2013 the project IGLO

(InterGenerationeel Project Linkeroever) was started to increase the social

cohesion between the different cultures and generations that live on Linkeroever.

Because of this project the city has already invested in the improvement of

the public domain, and the construction of a day-care, youth centre and care

apartments (Municipality of Antwerp, 2013). Along the south-western edge of

Linkeroever we see a lot of new development. Currently a new district is being

built next to the highway exit, called Regatta. A neighbourhood that is planned

to be finished around 2030 (awg architecten; bOb Van Reeth Batoo; B-architecten).

On the other side of the highway exit we find a small industrial area

and business district.

We see that Middenvijver in the middle of Linkeroever, has finally

been raised, but also has been left untouched. It was marked as an extension

area, but as of 2017/2018 is marked as park and recreational area (Municipality

of Antwerp, n.d.). The terrain holds several annual festivals (Festival fans,

2020). To the west we see the Rot; the leftovers of a 16th century stream. We

also see that the Blokkersdijk has received its final shape. The area is currently,

like much of Linkoever’s nature a breeding area for birds (Municipality of

Antwerp, 2013, p. 42). Further south, the Burchtse weel has received its final

shape. The area is now also connected to the Scheldt, as an inundation area

(Beheersmaatschappij Antwerpen Mobiel, 2006). To north we see that the grid

structure of Camp Tophat has been replaced by the Sint Annabos.

54


Conclusion

Figure 1.25

Never a place of destination.

Never a place of destination

Throughout its history, Linkeroever has never really developed to become

anything more than a place you go through to get to the other side of the river.

What started in the 16th century with the ferry transporting travellers to the other

side of the Scheldt, and continued in the 18th century with the arrival of the

train, and now, in the 20th (and 21st) century, developed to the highway that

almost literally cuts Linkeroever in half at the Charles de Costerlaan. Plaguing

the district with traffic congestion.

Several factors can be held responsible for this. The first (1) is that the Scheldt

river, for a large period in history has been a border between two countries, or

two margraviates. Only becoming part of Antwerp in 1923. The second (2) is

the long-standing position of the polder as a blue defence line in the military

system of Antwerp, with a potential submersion through inundation always

looming over its head. The third (3) is perhaps the influence of all the failed

plans in the area, and the influence of the Second World War. Starting in the

19th century with Ville Marie-Louise and Napoleon, and continuing in the

20th century with the international design competition. The forth (4) reason,

might be the clean slate start (the tabula rasa) that spurred the development of

present day Linkeroever. It never got the chance to develop like its neighbouring

villages/districts, the fort and defensive constructions were demolished and

buried underneath sand from the Scheldt.

55


Figure 1.26

Anomaly in the urban fabric.

Anomaly in the urban fabric

All of Antwerp and its surrounding villages have developed in a linear pattern

along the chaussee roads, Linkeroever is the odd one out in the urban

fabric of the city (and in Belgium). As a (partially) completed extension plan –

planned all at once, and because of reason discussed above, the urban fabric

of Linkeroever is quite different than that of the city and its suburbs. Linkeroever

contrasts hard with the inner city of Antwerp and its suburbs in terms of morphology

and typology (high-rise flats, semidetached houses, detached villa’s).

Figure 1.27

Disconnected from its history.

Disconnected from its history

Linkeroever, in comparison to the rest of Antwerp and the surrounding area, is

less connected to its history. Where it is still possible to read the development

of the latter, either explicitly or implicitly (as palimpsest), this is somewhat different

for Linkeroever. Historic structures pre-1900 are difficult if not impossible

56


to read in the landscape or urban fabric. The elevation of the terrain with sand

from the river the Scheldt is to blame for this.

Figure 1.28

On the same place as the Grote

Omwalling

On the same place as the Grote Omwalling

We have seen that the ring of Antwerp, the R1, was built directly on the track

of the Grote Omwalling, the rampart that was part of Antwerp’s major defence

system during its time as National redoubt. All the major intersections have

been placed at the lunettes of the old rampart. This area was chosen because

there was space available, and because the area was lower than the surrounding

built area. However, the ring being in the same place as the old rampart,

means that it is running on a discontinued waterway, and thus has to be

permanently kept dry.

57


These are the

contours of the

Spaanse Omwalling -

the first paradigm.

These trees remind us of the

trees planted on the Spaanse

Omwalling in the 16th century.

However, these trees are

also part of the third

paradigm - the park.

The Lunette of Heren

tals is beautifully

incorporated in the

fabric of the city as a

park.

When the Spaanse

Omwalling was

demolished, the free

space gave way to a

spacious traffic artery -

the second paradigm.

58


Figure 1.29

abstract depiction of the paradigms

These are the of the rampart, the traffic artery, and

contours of the the park.

Spaanse Omwalling -

the first paradigm.

The Rampart The Traffic Artery The Park

Lunette of Heren

s beautifully

porated in the

c of the city as a

.

The first, second and third paradigm

The last notion, that the current highway ring is located on top of the previous

ramparts is a finding that shows potential. Combined with one of the conclusions

from the previous chapter about the ring development; that the green

ring is going to facilitate a shift from the inner-city and suburbs from turning

their backs to each other, to facing one another, we might be able to establish

three different paradigms for defining or enclosing a city. The Spaanse Omwalling

and Grote Omwalling are the first paradigm, the highway ring – and

important traffic artery – is the second paradigm, and the upcoming green ring

could be the third paradigm. Or, in a more detached form we can distinguish:

(1) the rampart as the first paradigm, (2) the traffic artery as the second paradigm,

and (3) the park as the third paradigm.

These three paradigms represent different ways of completing, defining,

or enclosing a city. All of these paradigms are, of course, a product of

the time they were constructed in, and the result of dominant trends in politics,

mobility, economics, and climate. The first paradigm, the rampart, was a

barrier that quite literally tried to keep people out, only allowing entrance at

specific points. The second paradigm, the traffic artery, resulted in an urban

environment that was so unpleasant due to safety, and air and noise pollution

that people turned away from it, becoming a barrier in its own right. The third

paradigm in the plans of Antwerp, the park, also has defining properties in the

sense that it tries to define two separate areas; the inner-city and suburbs. But,

tries to do so in a way that creates a pleasant urban environment that inhabitants

of the city will flock towards. Thereby, also establishing a better connection

between the two separate entities. So, these three paradigms all have

defining qualities, but do so in completely different ways.

Figure 1.30

Drawing of the three paradigms as

applied in Antwerp’s Leien. The old

map is from Topotijdreis (Topotijdreis,

n.d.).

We can however establish that the last paradigm is not completely standing

on its own in the design of the ring park. While the park is still the main carrier

of city’s defining structure, we also see that Antwerp is planning on creating

a concentric tram line and bicycle highway along the ring park. This suggests

59


an interplay between the second and third paradigm, only this time the traffic

artery is filled in by transport modes that are less disruptive. A connection to

the first paradigm, the rampart, seems to not be consciously established in

the design of the ring park. Looking at the previous historical morphological

analysis we can distinguish a structure in the urban fabric of Antwerp that has

qualities of all three of these paradigms: the Leien.

In the transition from the Spaanse Omwalling to the Grote Omwalling,

the massive leftover space was used to build a major traffic artery

through the city; the present-day Leien. In its construction the rough shape of

the former rampart was petrified in the urban fabric of the city, as illustrated

by the drawing on the left page. In addition to this, the shape of the lunette of

Herentals was preserved in the urban fabric as the current city park, and the

Leien were decorated by several rows of trees. In this structure we find an intricate

interaction between the first, second, and third paradigm. We find that the

spirit of the Spaanse Omwalling lives on not just in the morphological shape

of the Leien and the city park, but also the rows of trees that are planted on the

boulevard, which remind us of the trees planted on the Omwalling in the 16th

century. While the average passer-by will probably not link these trees back to

the Spaanse Omwalling, one of its elements is nonetheless contributing to the

creation of a more pleasant atmosphere on the boulevard itself. It is perhaps

even what keeps it from turning into a space meant purely for movement, as

we have seen in the current ring zone.

This interaction between the three paradigms in the way we have seen in the

Leien; that an element of one of the paradigms is used to solve a problem,

or improve the spatial quality of one of the paradigms, might be a very useful

Figure 1.31

A painting of the Spaanse Omwalling

by J. Hoenagel in 1598. The painting

shows the rows of trees that have

been planted on the rampart. Why

these trees have been planted on the

ramparts is not entirely clear, perhaps

because of some recreational quality

(Follens, 2019).

60


method for the city to adopt in the development of the ring park. Introducing

elements of the Grote Omwalling, for instance, the water element of

the moats and inundation areas, might be useful for alleviating some of the

effects of climate change. At the same time, a link like this could establish a

(more) powerful connection to recreation and heritage, creating a more robust

position for the ring park in the urban fabric of the city. Expanding the scope,

the interaction between the three paradigms might even be useful in Antwerp’s

other plans, to develop the suburban region into a polycentric environment,

and to limit the grow of the peripheries of the metropole.

61


1.3

Optimism, Realism,

and Pessimism

On the love and hate relationship between people and the

car, and the effect it has had, and still has, on our cities.

The car, a means of transport that, in its relatively short existence, has perhaps

had the most effect on how we structure cities. A relationship that started out

quite optimistic, with large utopian plans and dreams has, starting half way

through the seventies, turned to realism, in light of rising traffic congestion,

environmental awareness, and limited resources. A realism, that perhaps in

recent years has turned to pessimism, with rising global traffic congestion,

increasingly worsening climate change, and growing concerns concerning

air and noise pollution. As a result, a shift is now starting to take shape away

from the (individually-owned) car to other types of transport. A shift that puts

a larger focus on cleaner, safer, and more efficient mobility, including a wide

range of modes of transportation, like public transport, (electric) bicycles,

autonomous and/or shared vehicles, and even old-fashioned walking. And

with this, we see concepts (re)emerge like the 30-minute-city, decentralised or

polycentric cities, and transit-oriented development (TOD). Concepts that can

have large spatial, social, and economic consequences in present day cities.

We increasingly see cities removing or hiding their highways, a

trend not just motivated by climate or health concerns, but also because of a

growing lack of space in the inner-city fabric. Space has become a valuable

commodity in cities, with many cities struggling to sustain a healthy housing

market they are often looking at reclaiming space in harbours, or even on top

of highways, mostly built during the sixties.

The following pages will explore the rise and fall of the car in cities,

from the start of the twentieth century till present day. It will subsequently, trace

the current trend in the shift from the car to more sustainable means of transport,

and illustrate which spatial effect this has on cities.

62


Figure 1.32

The Ford Model T in its iconic black

rendition (Kirn Vintage Stock, 2015).

3.

Translated into English in 1929 as The

City of To-morrow and its Planning.

4.

Translated into English in 1967 as The

Radiant City.

Utopian optimism

The image of the car and the infrastructure that exists because of it, has had

quite a rocky ride throughout its history. The car started to rise, at large,

around the time Henry Ford started manufacturing the Ford model T; the first

mass-produced car in 1908. The moving assembly line on which the model

was produced, allowed Ford to reduce the prices so that most people could afford

it. In the nineteen years that the automobile was manufactured, Ford was

able to produce over 15 million models and thereby managed to extended its

reach far beyond the United states; putting almost the entire world on wheels

(History.com Editors, 2020; Brooke, 2008).

The entrance of the car in people’s everyday life spurred the imagination

of how cities should function, and what they would look like with this new

mode of transportation. The automobile became a symbol of modernity and

progress, and it became an omnipresent feature in many drawings, like those

of Harvey Wiley Corbett or Hugh Ferriss, and utopian city concepts developed

in the early twentieth century (Lorenzo, 2015, p. 29). Le Corbusier’s Urbanisme

3 published in 1924, was one of the first proposals for a more car-oriented

approach when designing for cities. In his view, cities did not yet tap into

the potential that cars had, in the prementioned book he states that: “A city

made for speed is made for success” (Corbusier, 1987, p. 179). In his 1935

publication La Ville Radieuse, 4 Le Corbusier’s notions about city planning

had matured into a conceptual city, carefully dived into living, working, and

63


Figure 1.33

A model of Ville Radieuse (Merin,

2013).

Figure 1.34

Perspective drawing of one of the

streets of Ville Radieuse. The image

shows the vertical separation of cars

and pedestrians (Merin, 2013).

64


recreational zones, consisting of vertical architecture with wide open horizontal

areas for cars, cyclists, public transport, and pedestrians vertically separated

from each other (Kohlstedt, 2018).

Other contemporaries, and rivals, like Frank Loyd Wright also made grand

visions for car-use in cities. In his 1932 book, The Disappearing City, and in

the subsequent 1935 exhibition in the Rockefeller Center, Wright presented his

Broadacre City. A plan in which he proposed, having a dislike for dense industrial

cities, spread cities out into low-density neighbourhoods consisting out

of generous plots of land. Wright believed strongly in the car as an instrument

of freedom and said that there should be a “a new standard of space measurement

– the man seated in his automobile” (Robertson, 2018). Conceived

during the Great Depression, Wright never intended to build his city but rather

wanted to use it as a means of addressing social, economic, and environment

issues (Gray, 2018).

Figure 1.35

A 1950s bird’s-eye view sketch of

Broadacre city (Images of Network,

2017).

After the Second World War the influence of the car gained speed in cities

around the world. In post-war United States, the trend of flocking to the cities

during the 1940s and 1950s reversed. Thanks to low housing costs and GI Bill

benefits, even the working-class American – the veterans of the war – could

now afford to own a house. Under the heading of the American Dream,

combined with the baby boom, this development spurred unprecedented suburbanisation;

between 1948 and 1958, 85% of American homes were built

in suburbs (Elliott, 2015a). This enormous cry for houses resulted in the mass

65


production of houses, famously done by William J. Levitt of Levitt and Sons, in

their so-called Levittowns. In the 1950s and 1960s, the company built around

140.000 homes using the assembly line. It marked the largest private housing

projects in United States history; in New York the firm built 17.000 dwellings

between 1947-1951, and another 17.000 in Pennsylvania between 1952-

1958 (Elliott, 2015b; Lasky, 2018). For the generation that lived through the

Great Depression and the War, these homes represented a high standard

of luxury. However, due to their mass-produced nature, the Levittown house

would soon become synonymous with homogeneity and dullness. They were

also a physical representation of racial exclusiveness, as most of them did not

have any black families; the initial lease of Levitttown called only for whites

(Cals, 2016).

The rise of the suburb was made possible by the car, which helped

in promoting a ‘car culture’ in the United States. Each resident of the suburb

needed to have a privately-owned car to go to work or purchase groceries.

The production of cars increased threefold between 1945 and 1955, and with

it the system of roads they had to drive on. The federal government started to

invest heavily in the development of the Interstate Highway System. 5

In Europe a similar trend of suburbanisation and the creation of an international

highway system took place (the E-road network). In contrast to the United

States situation, the European suburbs were fuelled not only by a quantita-

5.

Also called the ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower

National System of Interstate and

Defense Highways’. The system also

had certain military aspects, as the

highways would allow quick travel

(and evacuation) through the country

in case of an attack (History.com

Editors, 2019).

Figure 1.36

Aerial photograph of Levittown

Pennsylvania. Due to its mass-produced

nature, the Levittown house would

soon become synonymous with homogeneity

and dullness (Cals, 2016).

66


6.

Also called the ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower

National System of Interstate and

Defense Highways’. The system also

had certain military aspects, as the

highways would allow quick travel

(and evacuation) through the country

in case of an attack (History.com

Editors, 2019).

7.

The European Communities (EC) is the

predecessor of the European Union.

tive lack of housing, but also by a qualitative lack because of the destruction

during the war (Ter Heide & Smit, 2016; Hesse & Siedentop, 2018). The void

in cities that was the result of this de-urbanisation was filled by unskilled immigrant

workers, who had no problem with the low-quality housing. The suburbanisation

peaked during the 1960s and 1970s in most European countries;

a few countries were earlier, among them Belgium, The United Kingdom, and

Switzerland, who experienced their main suburbanisation during the 1950s.

The urbanisation further resulted in a more social and spatial segregation. The

new-found mobility that people had resulted in social groups living increasingly

further apart, in an increasingly homogenous composition (Rottiers, 2004).

Many countries introduced policy to structure and guide the suburbanisation,

the Netherlands for instance introduced its ‘groeikernen’ 6 (grow core) policy

which appointed specific locations for suburbs. This was to prevent the urbanisation

of (too much) rural land, and to prevent the Randstad from merging

together (Bruinsma & Koomen, 2018, pp. 32-34).

Growing realism

The optimism towards the car started to change in the seventies. In the United

States and Europe, commerce and industry started to leave the city due to

suburbanisation in favour of the open rural area, creating large business parks

and shopping malls. As a result of all this urban sprawl, traffic congestion was

on the rise, and was becoming a serious problem (Animesh, n.d.; Vidová,

2010, p. 43; Rottiers, 2004); Melosi, 2010).

Another reason for the changing attitude towards the car, was the

increasing awareness for climate change. A growing movement initiated by the

publication of The Limits to Growth from the Club of Rome. This report showed

the world for the first time, using computer simulations, that the earth could

probably not support the current rates of economic and population growth

beyond the year 2100, if it would even last that long, even with advancements

in technology (The Club of Rome, n.d.). Two consecutive oil crises added

momentum to the message from the Club of Rome, the first one in 1973 and

the second in 1979. The former let to Europe-wide car-free (Sun)days (Stapel,

2017, p. 26; Kettell, n.d.). In the Netherlands a total of ten car-free Sundays

were held between 1973-1974, and in Belgium six times between the same

period (Wikipedia, 2020). This growing awareness for, and discussion about,

the environment led to the introduction ‘Environmental Impact Statements’ in

many countries around the world from the 1970s onward. These documents

described the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed plan

or project, and were meant to help decision making. The United States was the

first country to adopt these statements in 1970, in the following years and the

1980s, Canada, Japan, and Australia would follow as well. The EC 7 also pro-

67


vided a guideline for an environmental statement for the twelve EC countries in

1985 (Autosnelwegen.nl, n.d.). These oil crises also put a stop to the massive

economic boom that came after the Second World War. Resulting in a worldwide

rise of inflation and unemployment (Kramer, 2020; Bruinsma & Koomen,

2018, p. 35).

These two factors combined, and the counterculture that rose around

the world from the mid 1960s until roughly the start of the 1970s, due to the

economic decline, led to many protests concerning, among others, war, racial

segregation, sex, woman’s rights, the environment, and the building of highways

8 (Stapel, 2017, p. 28). The trend developed in the United States around

1965, when the baby boom generation reached maturity, with the hippie

movement, mainly initiated by the Vietnam War (Lumen, n.d.). This counterculture

spread to become a worldwide trend, among others, in Japan, Mexico,

and Brazil; the large amount of youth around the world did not agree with the

notions of the established order. In Europe, the students revolt of Paris in May

of 1968 is a famous example, but there were also protests in the Netherlands,

Belgium, Germany, and Italy (Mitropoulou, 2011; Lambeets & Van Dijl, 2018).

8.

In the Netherlands the protest regarding

the construction of the A27 near

Amelisweerd is quite interesting. The

first protest managed to bring 3000

people, to prevent the demolition of

a forest that was in the way of the

highway. The protest managed to

get national media coverage. It took

a vote from parliament to settle the

situation (Autosnelwegen.nl, n.d.).

Pessimism

In the 1980s and at the end of the 1970s, a shift becomes noticeable in

spatial planning that again puts a larger focus on the city as a place to live,

in favour of the suburb. The declining economy, rising traffic congestion, and

the terrible state in which cities worldwide were in, all led to a shifting focus

on the city. Cities in that period, because of the large-scale emptying in the

1950s and 1960s of middle to high income residents, were mostly populated

by students, low-skilled immigrants, and low-income households; i.e. people

that could not afford the suburb. As a result, most cities had to deal with impoverishment

(Kasadara, 1980, p. 30; Rottiers, 2004). In the Netherlands this

already led to a large-scale urban renewal process halfway through the 1970s

for the people living in the city at that time, especially in Rotterdam which had

to deal with terrible inner-city living conditions (redactie gebiedsontwikkeling.

nu, 2019; Pflug, 2019).

The suburbanisation and spreading of work, recreation and living,

was taking its toll on cities and society at large. Cities and governments began

nudging people back to the city, and people in general started to see the benefits

of living close to certain facilities again. Cities, mostly large metropoles

like New York began to shift from manufacturing to newer economies, like service

and governmental institutions. Therewith creating central business districts.

With this shift, cities in the United States but also in Europe, started to attract

more and more middle and high-income class residents, marking an era of

gentrification 9 and urban renewal (Peck & Hollingsworth, 1996, pp. 149-150;

Rottiers, 2004).

9.

Gentrification is a process in which a

neighbourhood is upgraded by rehabilitating

the existing housing stock, with

an increase in rent or property value

as a result. This is then accompanied

by the influx of middle- or higher-class

people, which often results in the

displacement of the previous, often

poorer residents (Grant, 2003).

10.

New Urbanism aspires to reintroduce

traditional architecture and planning

abiding with traditional development;

reviving traditional urban planning

instead of reinventing it. Advocating

the development of affordable housing,

mixed-income environments, and

walkable neighbourhoods; reducing

car traffic. The focus on old building

patterns has received the critique that

New Urbanism overlooks the economic

and social realities of the modern

world; that people are more mobile,

and that we now have multi-national

companies and globalization. The

affordability is also an issue, as New

Urbanism relies mainly on the private

market to provide diversity (Nor, 2017,

pp. 14-16; Congress for the New

Urbanism, n.d.).

68


Figure 1.37

An image of war protesters burning

their draft card for the Vietnam War in

1966 (Sr Felipe, 2016).

11.

The Compact City could be described

as the opposite of urban sprawl, preferring

high-density, mixed use cities,

with short transportation distances that

minimises use of undeveloped land.

Like New Urbanism, the Compact

City also looks to traditional urban

planning in old European cities. The

concept strives to obtain a sustainable

urban form, centring around three

main themes: economy, environment

and society. Critics state that the

concept lacks clear evidence for its alleged

benefits, and that all three pillars

must be focused on in equal measure,

as failure to do so may weaken the

approach (Nor, 2017, pp. 17-19).

12.

Smart Growth is a concept based on

the belief that through public and private

subsidies urban growth could be

refocused to inner metropolitan areas

as well as to the suburbs. Existing

neighbourhoods could be revitalized

by providing mix land usage and creating

walkable environments, thereby

preserving open space and farmland.

High-density would encourage walking,

biking, and public transport due

to increased accessibility to services.

Critics on the concept point out that

developing more housing units on

smaller land areas in combination with

preserving open spaces and farmland

leads to rising housing prices, because

it removes the least expensive land

from the table (Nor, 2017, pp. 16-17).

Critiques on the urban sprawl, the homogeneity of the suburbs, and the decay

of inner-cities also resonated in popular discourse at the time. The most

famous example probably being the discussion led by Jane Jacobs in her

book The Life and Death of Great American Cities, in which she celebrates

the diversity and complexity of old mixed-use neighbourhoods (Wendt, 2009).

In the architectural and urbanism discourse the unrest gave rise to several

movements during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, all yearning to return to a more

high-density, human-oriented type of spatial planning that put a larger focus

on pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport. As this type of planning would

be more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, since the

concentration of people would mean shorter transportation distances as well

as making services and facilities more economically viable. The high-density

would also increase diversity, as more segments of society are mixing and

living together in the same area. However, the process of redevelopment and

rejuvenation of existing urban areas could also lead to quite the opposite;

rapid gentrification. Nevertheless, advocates of New Urbanism, 10 the Compact

City, 11 or Smart Growth 12 – the emerging urbanism concepts during

this period - considered high residential density highly important for creating

pleasant, sustainable cities. And, in the case of the former two, they drew their

inspiration from studying the older European cities pre-industrialisation (Nor,

2017, pp. 12-17).

At the same time, the notion started to sink in that the congestion problem

could not be solved by simply adding more asphalt. Combined with the rising

fuel prices of the time, and the Chernobyl disaster which put environmental is-

69


sue firmly back on the map, led to an increase in investment in public transport

in countries around the world. We see an increase in public transport usage

in New York during the late 1980s and late 1990s (Pucher, 2002, pp. 33-34)

(Autosnelwegen.nl, n.d.). The Netherlands also shifted its focus away from the

car from the mid 1980s onward. The third and fourth Memorandum on Spatial

Planning focussed more on public transport and the decrease of car-use

(Bruinsma & Koomen, 2018, pp. 35-37). This was supported by the Structuurschema

Verkeer en Vervoer (Structure scheme traffic and transport) in 1977,

which proscribed a decrease in the building of roads and an increase in public

transport. Specifically, the intercity train network, buses, and high-speed train

connections to Belgium and Germany (Autosnelwegen.nl, n.d.). A trend we see

Belgium, and the rest of Europe as well; starting from the 1980s and continuing

through the 1990s, a high-speed train network was being developed all

over Europe, both national and international (De Preter, 2016).

Moving forward?

The trend of re-urbanisation, or urbanisation at this point, of the late 1980s, is

still continuing today. According to the United Nations as of 2018, 55 percent

of the world’s population is living in urban areas. A percentage that is expected

to increase to 68 percent by 2050 (United Nations, 2018), and to 80 or

90 percent in 2100 (Nijskens, Hilbers, Lohuis, & Heeringa, 2019, p. ix). As

a result of this allure, megacities with more than ten million inhabitants are

becoming more and more common.

Due to heavy investments in infrastructure, and cultural and recreational

facilities, cities have become the economic powerhouses of the countries

they are in. People are drawn to them for the education, jobs, cultural

events, creativity, the recreational possibilities they offer, and not unimportant;

the presence of other people. This is mostly rural to urban migration of highly

educated young people, however, immigrants in search of work and education

are also focusing on cities, where they join communities of the same heritage

(Nijskens, Hilbers, Lohuis, & Heeringa, 2019, pp. ix-x). Families on the other

hand, are moving out of the city in search for space and affordable (larger)

housing. This migration is leading to a three-way divide in the housing market:

overheating in major cities, revival in the surrounding towns, and an emptying

in the peripheral zones (Hekwolter of Hekhuis, Nijskens, & Heeringa, 2017,

pp. 7-8). As this urbanisation trend is going on, the search for space in the

city is becoming increasingly difficult. In recent years, redevelopment of brown

fields, 13 old harbours or industrial areas, or even on top of highways has

become common in cities (Nor, 2017, pp. 17-18; Stapel, 2017, p. 28). The

lack of space is often also caused by administrative building restrictions and

the not-in-my-backyard attitude that is rising globally. In addition to the scar-

13.

A brownfield is a piece of land that

has been previously developed for industrial

purposes, and has since been

abandoned, leaving the ground in the

area polluted (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

70


city, supply is also lagging behind the growing demand for houses. Building in

cities often requires long planning, as they are subject to many layers of public

administration, and involve many stakeholders and interests. Besides these

local factors of supply constraints, regulation and zoning; residential property

as an investment good is also something that drives the housing prices to an

all-time high. Domestic, but especially foreign investors who play the buy-tolet

or buy-to-leave market are driving the prices up. All these factors have led

to a very (over)heated housing market in cities around the world. A trend that

is especially causing affordability problems for the middle-income earners.

Resulting in many families leaving the city, and young people often turning to

shared homes or small studios (Nijskens, Hilbers, Lohuis, & Heeringa, 2019,

p. x).

Trying to get a grip on the situation, cities are often turning to the

introduction of new taxation policies to ward of foreign investors using their

housing market as a place to store their equity. Cities like Vancouver, London,

and Toronto have already imposed such policies on foreign buyers (Kassam,

2017; Savage, 2018; Collinson, 2016). However, that will not solve the underlying

supply problem. For this a coherent housing and planning approach

is needed, focusing on the use of a limited amount of land and minimising the

disturbance of the (often) historic inner-city. While at the same time, creating

high-quality green and public space, suitable for several income and population

groups (Nijskens, Hilbers, Lohuis, & Heeringa, 2019, p. xii).

Despite the pull of cities, or because of it, traffic congestion is still a massive

problem. The average a person spends in congestion has been on the rise

since the 1990s (Muoio, 2017; Feldman, 2019). In the United States, the

average driver spends 54 hours in congestion in 2017. Los Angeles even

doubles this, with an average of 119 hours (Willingham, 2019). In Europe the

numbers are lower, but serious nonetheless. Here the United Kingdom is the

most congested country, with an average of almost 46 hours annually. Belgium

comes in second, at 40 hours per year. Not only is this a major inconvenience,

it also costs several millions of euro/dollars. (European Commission, 2018).

With all this congestion, comes serious air pollution. In 2018, nearly

30 percent of the European Union’s total CO2 emissions were caused by the

transportation of people and goods, of which 60 percent was from passenger

cars. As a result, countries around the world are attempting to cut back emissions

by switching to cleaner modes of transport, like carsharing, autonomous

cars, public transport, cycling, or walking (European Parliament, 2019). We

also see a growing trend of electrical cars, which emit no NO2, however, they

do still produce small particle pollution from the wear on tyres and brakes.

Which is also very polluting (Carrington, 2017).

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One of the growing concepts is that of Smart Mobility. A term that is quite a

fussy concept, but generally strives to create transportation and infrastructure

that is safer, sustainable, affordable, and more attractive, by using technology

(sensors, big data, AI) and the integration of different transport modes, for

instance with mobility as a service (MaaS) (HERE mobility, n.d.; Lyons, 2018).

Smart Mobility is one of the components of the Smart City, 14 a concept in

which cities are trying to create a more sustainable, greener urban environment,

with competitive and innovative commerce, and an increased quality of

life. The concept arose during the 1990s, when ICT and the internet of things

(IoT) were becoming increasingly useful for cities (Albino, Berardi, & Dangelico,

2015)

Another approach with similar goals, but different methods is called

Sustainable Mobility. An approach that tries to reduce the need to travel (less

trips), encourage modal shift, reduce trip lengths and encourage greater efficiency

with relation to energy-use and emissions in the transport system (Banister,

2008). The main focus here is on accessibility, rather than mobility itself,

in addressing urban sustainability. This with particular attention to land-use

planning as a means to enhance the sustainability of urban mobility (Crutis,

2008).

14.

The concept smart city has six components

that are interrelated and influenced

by each other. The components

are: smart economy, smart people,

smart governance, smart mobility,

smart environment, smart environment,

and smart living (Zawieska &

Pieriegud, 2018).

Both of these trends in mobility fit into the larger narrative of cities struggling

with the effects of climate change. Cities around the world are increasingly

experiencing the effects of the extremes in weather, like floods, droughts, and

heat waves. As a result, cities are trying to become more climate resilient.

Meaning they are trying to reduce heat stress and increase their water storing

capacity, by creating storage basins, reducing paved surfaces and adding

more greenery in the urban environment. The trend of creating a modal shift

to more public transit, the bicycle, or walking, fits into this, because it frees

up space. Besides the climate aspect, the pollution in terms of health is also

improved by these kinds of measures (Wageningen Environmental Research).

Coming back to the trend the trend on making mobility more efficient

in both space and time related dimensions, and the shift to slower modes of

transport like the bicycle or walking, we also see a link to the rising scarcity of

space in cities. A trend that was set in with the emergence of New Urbanism,

the Compact City, and Smart Growth at the end of the twentieth century, but

has become increasingly important in with the increasing size and complexity

of cities. In recent years, terms like the 30-minute-city are gaining popularity,

meaning no matter where one lives, all daily facilities are accessible within 30

minutes from one’s home. The motive behind this is to increase the number

of opportunities for everyone (Australian Smart Cities Plan, 2016). Another

popular concept under somewhat the same banner is that of Transit-Oriented

72


15.

To be clear; polycentricism can refer

to intraurban patterns of clustering

of population and economic activity,

like we see in Los Angeles or London;

or interurban patterns, like the Dutch

Randstad or the Belgian Flemish

Diamond (Kloosterman & Musterd,

2001, p. 624). In the corresponding

paragraph, the former is discussed.

Development (TOD). A type of urban planning that integrates (multimodal)

transport and land-use development, often at railway stations. As perhaps a

continuation of the Compact City concept, TOD aspires to increase accessibility

by providing alternatives to car-based land-use; facilitating transportation

choice. Another argument for it stems from sustainability concerns relating to

less motorised transport and resource efficiency. And a third motive for TOD is

that it could, potentially, allow for a degree of human interaction in the public

domain that is difficult in car-dependent urban environments (Curtis, Renne, &

Bertolini, 2009, p. 3).

With the abovementioned concepts, we see a gradual move towards

more polycentric city models with several centres of economic or other activity,

as distinct from a monocentric city model with a clear divide between city and

suburban area. 15 A trend we especially see in cities above five or ten million

inhabitants, like Shanghai, Beijing, London, or recently Sydney (Kloosterman

& Musterd, 2001, pp. 623-624; Wen & Tao, 2015, p. 138). In 2016, the

Greater Sydney Region launched a plan to become polycentric by 2056. The

strategy proposes to transform the greater Sydney to a 30-minute city with

three connected subcentres to increase accessibility to jobs, reduce car traffic,

creating a better balance in the health and education services (aging population

and young children across the region), and responding to a changing

climate (Greater Sydney Commission, n.d.). Bertaud (2001) defines three types

of polycentric cities; (1) the urban village, (2) the random movement model,

and (3) the mono-polycentric model. The first model has no major CBD, but

1. The monocentric model 2. The polycentric model:

The urban village

Figure 1.38

Drawing of monocentric and polycentric

city models (Bertaud, 2001, p. 4).

3. The polycentric model:

The random movement version

4. The mono-polycentric model:

Simulateous radial and

random movements

Weak links

Strong links

73


rather has a number of self-sufficient urban villages that aggregate to form a

polycentric metropolis. Such a model has never been created in the real world.

According to Bertaud, such a model would contradict the only valid explanation

for the existence and continuous growth of cities: the increasing returns

obtained by a larger integrated labour market. In reality polycentric cities

operate in similar ways to monocentric cities, in the sense that jobs attract

people from all over the city. However, the patterns of these trips are different,

they tend to show a wide dispersion of origin and destination; almost in a random

fashion. Trips in polycentric cities are therefore often longer than those in

monocentric cities. A polycentric structure is often part of the natural evolutionary

development of a growing metropole. However, no city is ever completely

monocentric, or polycentric (Bertaud, 2001, pp. 5-7). A shift like this irrevocably

has consequences for the distance decay model of a city. 16 The creation

of multiple centres that are multimodal and highly diverse in amenities within

the metropolitan region, will likely increase the property value around these

centres. Textbook monocentric cities will have a decay curve that bottoms out

once one reaches the periphery of the city; polycentric cities however, because

of their multiple centres, have multiple spikes in their curve. Depending on how

well these spikes are planned; regarding how well the centres complement

each other, will determine the effect they have on their surrounding land value

(Decamps, Gaschet, Pouyanne, & Virol, 2019).

16.

The land-use model or distance decay

model assumes that the highest bidder

will obtain the use of land. Prices are

generally higher in the city centre or

CBD. Near the CBD you often find

high-end shops and offices; further

away from the CBD we find industry;

and at the periphery we find housing

(in a simplified distance decay model)

(cheergalsal, 2008).

CBD

High residential

medium density

Distance from CBD

Rent per m 2

Commerce/

manufacturing

Residential

suburb

Distance from CBD

Rent per m 2

Sub-centre

Residential

suburb

Strong

complementarity

Medium

complementarity

Strong

substutuability

Figure 1.39

Drawing of the distance decay model

of a monocentric and polycentric city

(Decamps, Gaschet, Pouyanne, &

Virol, 2019).

The struggle for space

As mentioned previously, the scarcity for space in the cities has resulted in the

increasing redevelopment of brown fields, old harbours or industrial areas,

and even on top of highways. Because of the relation to Antwerp and the

Grote Verbinding-project, the latter one will be further explored in this section.

With all the negative side-effects of cars as described in the previous

sections – the congestion, the noise and air pollution, and the large claim on

space – and in light of the sustainable alternatives in mobility, the questions

arises whether cars still have a future in the city, and if so, what that future

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looks like. Because of the enthusiasm with which the highways were constructed

around the world in the sixties and seventies, many of them are in central

places in the urban fabric. With the increasing scarcity of space, many cities

are looking at these inner-city highways with hungry eyes. The last decades

have seen total removal, burying at great expense, or transitioning into boulevards

of urban highways, to improve the spatial quality, property value, and

restoring neighbourhood connections. Especially in the United States removal

has been a popular measure, highways were often constructed in a ditch here,

and many of them would have needed major refurbishment (Parker, 2012). In

Europe highways often do not directly go through the city, here the highway

often encircles the city in a ring road. Due to suburbanisation city and suburb

have often fused together, which is why they often for the underground

relocation of the ring and place boulevard on top. Other variants are reducing

the number of exits and narrowing the road or an incremental improvement

of the landscape on and around the highway; essentially creating a parkway

setting (Stapel, Top, Hanekamp, & Zandbelt, 2018, p. 35). When building new

highways, we often see that cities built them directly under ground, this can be

observed in cities like Brisbane, Sydney, Singapore, and Oslo.

The most famous highway project is probably Boston’s Big Dig. A project

constructed between 1991 and 2007, which involved the underground relocation

of a curved highway running through downtown Boston that isolated

the northern side of the city and the waterfront, and the construction of a

bypass (land and water tunnel) to East Boston on the other side of the river.

A project that was plagued by massive cost overruns (from 2,6 billion, to

15 billion, to 24 billion including interest), a delay of eight years, and a few

accidents with deathly casualties. However, the project did mostly do what it

promised to do; de traffic going through the city is still substantial, but out of

sight underground, and due to the bypass less congested then before (Flint,

2015; Sperance & Bisnow Boston, 2018). Above ground the tunnel now holds

some of the most valuable urban ground in the United States. From 2003 to

2005, the office rents along the capped highway went up by an average of

10 percent, while land prices jumped by nearly 40 percent. These land-value

increases were observed within 500 meters of the capped highway (Ascher &

Krupp, 2010, p. 195).

Another interesting example is Madrid’s covering of the M30, completed

between 2005 and 2011. A project that covers a ten km section of

Madrid’s ring running along the river Manzanares, including the full covering

of some of the intersections. Total costs of the project were 4,5 billion euros.

The overall goal of the project was to reconnect both sides to each other and

the riverfront. A large park with sporting and recreational options has been

75


built on top of the capped highway. As of yet it is still unclear how the project

has affected the property value of the existing urban fabric (the polis blog,

n.d.; West 8, 2011; de Architect, 2017).

Figure 1.40

World map of constructed and proposed

highway cap and tunnel projects

from 1960 till 2030.

The map and graph to the right shows a cross-section of the highway cap

and tunnel projects around the world from the 1960s till 2030 (projects in the

planning phase).

The list of already constructed caps and tunnels was compiled by

remote sensing of the urban fabric of major cities 17 using Google Maps –

underground highways show up in a different colour. The list of projects that

are in their planning phase was compiled using the Google search engine,

with variants on search terms like: highways cap proposal, highway covering

proposal, highway tunnel proposal, etc. The projects were subsequently

inventoried on basic characteristics (year, length, country, etc.), why they were

constructed, what has been built on top, and how the project was financed.

For the complete list of projects, see appendix I.

17.

A city with an agglomeration above

one million inhabitants.

From the graph we see that the trend of capping highways (similar to what

Antwerp is now planning on doing) started in the United States during the

mid-sixties, with Memorial Park in Los Angeles County, a cap of 200 metres.

Over the years, we see a subtle increase in length of the highway caps.

Especially European counties opt for a longer underground relocation of their

city highway. Interesting is the emergence of highway tunnels under the urban

fabric of cities around 2000, in Europe and Asia & Oceania, often around the

length of five kilometres. This seems to support the growing pessimism towards

car use from the previous paragraphs, in terms of climate and health, however

with an investment like this, it probably also means that cars will remain an

integral part of the city’s mobility system for quite some time after.

The main motives behind capping existing highways seems to be (1) creating

better connections between the two sides of the highway, (2) solving space

related issues and rising housing prices, (3) health related issues, like air and

noise pollution, (4) climate related issues, like water storage and heat stress,

(5) adding much needed green space, and (6) as means of establish the city as

a forward thinking modern city, using the highway project to attract new talent.

Once the highway has been put underground, we often see a park taking residence

on top of the cap. Only seldom do we see a building on top of the cap,

this probably has something to do with the expense it takes to build on top of

a highway (structurally). A park of course, helps in catering for public green,

the climate, and health, and it helps create a more suitable environment for

development. It should be noted that these projects are almost never done to

Figure 1.41

Graph of highway cap and tunnel

projects structured according to the

length of the underground highway

and construction year, and subdivided

according based the continent.

76


Cap

Tunnel

Cap

Tunnel

Europe

North America

South America

Asia & Oceania

20km

Length of underground highway

15km

10km

5km

1960

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030

77


reduce traffic congestion.

The downside of these types of projects, next to their enormous costs, are that

they require quite some commitment from all parties involved, as they can

easily take more than ten years. The covering of the A2 in Maastricht,

started its planning phase in 2003, constructed the underground infrastructure

between 2010 and 2018, and is currently (2020) still working on the park,

boulevards, and new property on the cap (Avenue2, n.d.).

In terms of financing we see that these projects often run well into

the billion euros or dollars. Funding is often a mix between public and private

investment, and the believe that covering the highway will raise property values

of already existing buildings. Public investment is mostly a mix between municipal

(the city itself) and national funding, with the latter taking account for a

larger proportion. Private investment often means allowing investors to develop

parts of the land adjacent to the capped highway. Regarding the increase in

property value, we see that this is indeed the case. The covering of the A2 in

Maastricht, for example, led to an overall increase in property value of about

220 million euros; almost a quarter of the total investment. The reliance on

increase in property value and improved international allure for the city makes

it difficult to measure the direct profits of these kinds of projects (Stapel, Top,

Hanekamp, & Zandbelt, 2018, p. 35).

Conclusion

From the trend analysis we can conclude that we see that cities around the

world are becoming more populous, over half of the world’s population is

already living in cities, and this is only expected to rise in the future. As a result,

we see an increasing number of cities above 1 million inhabitants. This makes

cities struggle with an increasing scarcity of development space, with overheating

housing markets as result. Leading to cities increasingly redeveloping

brown fields, old harbours or industrial areas, and even relocating highways

underground to add development space. In addition, we see city’s dealing

with climate change in the form of heat stress and flood risk, often resulting

from a lack of greenery which also plays into negative health effects due to air

pollution.

We are currently in a shift from a car dominant mobility system to a mobility

system that is more focused on multimodal transport with a heavy focus on

public transport, cycling, and walking. A shift that is mainly fuelled by a drive

to find more space in the city, crippling traffic congestion that hurts the economy,

and because of growing climate and health awareness.

Along with this modal shift, we see an increase in movements that

rely on reducing the need to travel, making it more efficient, or try to shorten

transport trips, like the 30-minute-city, Sustainable Mobility, or Smart Mobility.

78


We see that morphology and the dominant means of transport are inextricably

linked to each other, acting and reacting to each other. The car becoming

mainstream during the 1950s and 1960s, among other factors, allowed

for unprecedented urban sprawl. Currently with the shift to slower modes of

transport in inner cities, we see the emergence of more high-density, polycentric

urban fabric. There are three types of polycentric city models; (1) the

urban village, (2) the random movement model, and (3) the mono-polycentric

model. The first one has never been realised in the real world, as it would contradict

the raison d’etre of cities. Trips in polycentric cities are often longer as

they tend to show a wider dispersion of origin and destination. The emergence

of polycentric cities is often the result of the natural evolutionary process of a

growing metropole. No city is however, ever completely mono or polycentric.

The availability of mobility in a certain area has effect on the number

of amenities, and subsequently on the property value of a certain area. With

the suburbs only being available by car, was probably one of the reasons why

they were so affordable. This resulted in a gradual decline of the distance

decay model of a city. Now with the emergence of more transit-oriented development,

we see multiple spikes in property value around the city, changing the

decline of the distance decay model.

Many cities around the world are removing their city highway or are burying it

under the ground. The main motives behind this are (1) lifting often hard barriers,

(2) solving space related issues, (3) health related issues, like air and noise

pollution, (4) climate related issues, (5) adding green space for recreation,

and (6) as means of establish the city as a forward-thinking modern city, using

the highway project to attract new talent. The projects by themselves seem not

to solve congestion related issues. As we have seen that putting down more

asphalt only leads to more congestion.

The projects often run into the billion euros or dollars, and rely on

a mix of public and private investment and funding. Profits are measured in

talent attracted to the city, and in terms of increases in property value along

the capped highway, which makes it difficult to measure. With these massive

investments that are still happening today, it seems doubtful that the car will

disappear any time soon. The projects can easily take more than ten years.

However, the rewards in terms of improvement of spatial qualities and property

value are quite large.

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1.4

Towards an overarching

strategy for Antwerp

How the interplay between three paradigms is going to

shape Antwerp's future

The previous sub-chapters set out to explore the past, present, and future of Antwerp.

It did so by analysing the city’s current large-scale projects – the ring project

and the strategic spatial plan; by reading the city’s historical-morphological

development; and by analysing the past and present effects of trends relating to

the future of mobility in relation to a city’s urban form. The following pages will

present the main findings of these analyses as a way to gain an in-depth picture

of Antwerp’s current situation; to define missing elements or missed opportunities.

Subsequently, this chapter will formulate a vision for the metropolitan

region of Antwerp, and define a main research question and sub-questions to

achieve this vision.

1.1 De Grote Verbinding

1. Antwerp is striving to become a multimodal, short distance, polycentric city

with a model split of 50 percent car-use, and 50 percent public transport,

bicycles, and walking. It tries to do this by (1) switching from the current

radial city model to a radial-concentric model, by adding tangential connections

(like the ring road and Scheldt bridge); (2) by adding multimodal

transport hubs at the existing P+R’s in the city and by adding new ones;

(3) by adding strategic densification hubs along multimodal transportation

hubs (like train stations or P+R’s) or large amenities (like hospitals or theatres);

and (4) by separating through and freight traffic from city traffic via a

bypass through the harbour;

2. With the Ring project, Antwerp wants to shift the growth of its metropolitan

region from the periphery to the areas on both sides of the current ring

highway, and to strategic densification hubs in the suburbs on the other side

of the ring. With the densification of the area along the ring, Antwerp wants

to change the relation between city and suburb; from turning their back, to

facing each other;

3. Antwerp strives to attain a healthy cross-section of society in their city. However,

they especially want to keep families in the city, by adding affordable

apartments suited for them;

4. With the current population projections, it seems that Antwerp will have

enough homes to keep up with population growth. However, there are

80


two side notes here, (1) the domestic and international migration pattern

might increase once the Ring project is close to being finished, due to the

improved spatial quality and international allure of the project; and (2) the

building of new family apartments in Antwerp might reattract the families

that have left Antwerp in recent years;

5. Antwerp wants to use the Ring Park to reduce heat stress and increase the

city’s climate resilience, the city is currently looking into how to use the

park in its water management system. The Ring Park is also going to be the

link between the regional nature areas around the city (green fingers), and

the local green in the neighbourhoods (green streets);

6. Antwerp mentions that Linkeroever has no current densification plans; the

trend of making master plans will continue. While it seems, at the same

time, that Linkeroever will become part of the inner-city of Antwerp, with

the completion of the ring, the new P+R, the instalment of a low-emission

zone, and the creation of a defined edge;

7. The extensive plans of the Ring project on the right side are not applied

to Linkeroever, an area that has the potential to be the culmination of the

Ring Park. The connections between the different green areas here is supposedly

being improved, but due to all the earth walls segregation between

the areas might even increase, and the defined edge that guides traffic to

the Scheldt bridge is no longer present once it reaches Linkeroever.

1.2 Historical-Morphological Analysis

1. The ring of Antwerp was built on the same location as the Grote Omwalling,

the rampart that was part of Antwerp’s major defence system during

its time as National Redoubt. The intersections of the ring coincide with the

lunettes of the old ramparts. The ring being in the same place also means

that it runs on a discontinued waterway, and thus has to be permanently

kept dry;

2. The Ring Park will be the next paradigm of defining the city of Antwerp.

With this notion we can define three paradigms for completing, defining,

or enclosing a city: (1) the rampart, (2) the traffic artery, and (3) the park.

With the Spaanse and Grote Omwalling, the highway ring, and the ring

park as their physical application;

3. All three of these paradigms have barrier like properties, but achieve this

in different ways. The rampart quite literally tried to keep people out, only

allowing entrance at specific points. The traffic artery resulted in an urban

environment so unpleasant due to safety, and air and noise pollution that

the environment turned away from it. The park acts as a barrier in the

sense that it tries to define the areas around it, but does so in a way that

creates a pleasant urban environment that people will flock towards.

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4. There is an interplay between the second and third paradigm in the

planned ring park. The park paradigm is the dominant defining element of

the city, but there is also a traffic artery planned in the shape of a tram line

and bicycle highway; transport modes that are viewed as less disruptive.

There seems to be no conscious link to the first paradigm.

5. In the Leien – the inner-city’s major traffic artery – we see an interplay

between all three paradigms, creating a structure that very carefully shows

the historical development of the city. The spirit of the former Spaanse

Omwalling lives on not just in the morphological shape of the Leien and

the former lunette of Herentals now turned into the city park, but also in the

rows of trees planted on the boulevard. A reminder to the trees planted on

the rampart. This creates a subtle historical link that is used to contribute to

the creation of a more pleasant atmosphere on the boulevard.

6. This interaction between the three paradigms in which elements from one

paradigm are used to solve a problem, or improve the spatial quality of

one of the other paradigms, might be a useful method for the city to adopt

in the ring park. Introducing the water element from the first paradigm

might for instance, help alleviate some of the effects of climate change. On

a larger scale, the leftover structure of the first paradigm might give direction

to the polycentric development or structuring of the peripheral areas.

At the same time, a link like this could establish a powerful connection to

recreation and heritage.

7. Linkeroever has a chance to develop into a proper city district, due to the

Ring project and the disconnecting of the Charles de Costerlaan. Throughout

its history, Linkeroever has never developed to anything more than a

place you go through to get to the other side of the river. First by train and

ferry, and currently with the highway that literally cuts Linkeroever in half at

the Charles de Costerlaan. The Scheldt as national border, the use as inundation

area, all the failed plans, and the tabula rasa type of development;

8. Linkeroever’s morphology contrasts hard with that of the city of Antwerp

and its surrounding villages; the former was planned all at once in a grid

pattern, the latter is the result of years of development along a linear pattern

(lintbebouwing);

9. Historical layers on Linkeroever are more difficult to read than is the case

for the rest of Antwerp; the palimpsest-like development that is present in

the city and suburb is almost non-existent on Linkeroever. Historic structures

pre-1900 are almost not present on Linkeroever due to the elevation of the

terrain in the twentieth century;

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1.3 Optimism, Realism, and Pessimism

1. Over half of the world’s population is living in cities, a percentage that is

expected to only increase in the upcoming years. This makes cities struggle

with an increasing scarcity of development space, leading to the increased

redevelopment of brown fields, industrial areas, and on top of highways.

The struggle for space, and the rise of real estate as a means of storing

capital, leads to overheated housing markets;

2. Cities increasingly feel the effect of climate change and are therefore

striving to become more climate resilient, by adding more urban green and

water storage to counter heat stress and flooding;

3. Cities are in a shift from car dominant mobility to multimodal mobility with a

focus on public transport, cycling, and walking. A trend fuelled by the drive

for more space, crippling traffic congestion, and climate and health issues;

4. Morphology and the dominant means of transport are inextricably linked to

each other; acting and reacting. The rise of the car during the 1950s and

‘60s, among other factors, allowed for unprecedented urban sprawl. Currently

with the shift to slower, more short-range modes of transport in inner

cities, we see the emergence of more high-density, polycentric urban fabric;

5. The combination of access to mobility and diverse amenities at a certain

location has effect on the location’s property value. Moving from one CBD

to multiple – to a more polycentric city model – that complement each other

to some degree has effect of the distance decay model of a city;

6. There are three types of polycentric city models; (1) the urban village, (2)

the random movement model, and (3) the mono-polycentric model. The

first one has never been realised in the real world, as it would contradict

the raison d’etre of cities. Trips in polycentric cities are often longer as they

tend to show a wider dispersion of origin and destination. The emergence

of polycentric cities is often the result of the natural evolutionary process of

a growing metropole. No city is however, ever completely mono or polycentric.

7. Many cities are relocating their highway underground and develop a park

on top of the cap. There are six motives for this: (1) reconnecting neighbourhoods;

(2) reclaiming space; (3) improving health; (4) improving

climate resilience; (5) more green recreational space; and (6) to establish

the city as a modern metropole to attract more residents;

8. Capping a highway often runs well into a billion euros or dollars. They rely

on a mix of public and private investment and funding. Profits are difficult to

measure and are often expressed in an increase in global pull and increases

in property value. With these kinds of investments, it seems doubtful that

the car will disappear any time soon.

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Problem definition

In the upcoming years Antwerp is going to implement two large structuring

plans. The first is the capping of the ring and its transition to ring park – the

Grote Verbinding; the second is the densification and subsequent polycentric

development of the suburban region, and thereby create what the city is calling

a Network City.

Both of these projects, although different, are densification strategies

that are comprised of the same three elements. The first (1) is that they are

both looking for a way to densify in the existing fabric of the city, and try to

do so in a way that stimulates economic progress. The ring project, with its

improvement in mobility and living environment tries to increase the domestic

and international allure of the city in order to attract new business. The

polycentric development in turn tries to focus densification around strategically

placed economic hubs, to strengthen their economic weight. The second (2)

element is the appointment of densification zones to get a grip on the growth

of the peripheral region; the edge of the suburban region and the villages

beyond it. While simultaneously creating a stronger definition of both the

inner-city and suburban region. The third (3) element is the stimulation of a

modal shift towards more cleaner sources of mobility like public transport and

cycling, to improve the health conditions and climate resilience of the city.

The ring project does this by capping the ring to take away the noise and air

pollution, and by adding an important concentric public transport and bicycle

connection on top. The polycentric strategy in turn tries to limit movement

altogether, by striving towards a short-distance city through the creation of

autonomous hubs. Thereby also putting some pressure off the transport system

in the inner-city

Within these projects we also see a slight contradiction. The ring project,

with its densification plan to create a defined urban edge, is catering to a

paradigm shift in the way the inner-city and suburbs are visually connected to

each other. From turning away from each other, the entire ring area will, when

the urban edge is complete, transition to facing one another. However, with

the wish of stimulating a polycentric development in the suburban region in

which the city is almost going to resemble an urban village model, we find the

opposite of what the ring project is trying to achieve. Admittedly, the ring project

also has a separating quality, however in light of the effect the highway is

currently having on the urban environment, the ring park is going to stimulate

a better connection.

As of yet however, both of these plans are still in their development stages.

The polycentric strategy is still missing a spatial plan. The city is currently only

suggesting that strategic densification hubs could be formed along multimodal

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hubs, like the P+R structures, or large amenities. The information currently

available about these projects suggests that there is no conscious consideration

on how the inherent duality between, on the one hand improving

mobility and connectivity between the inner-city and suburban region, while

at the same time applying a short-distance polycentric strategy to the suburbs,

is going to fit together. An overarching strategy that links these two projects

together, and manages to give the suburban region a higher degree of autonomy

while keeping a strong link to the inner-city seems essential here.

Another point of criticism, is Antwerp’s approach to getting a grip on

the growth on the peripheral areas. It seems that Antwerp is only doing this in

an indirect manner; through the appointment of locations for densification.

In other words, Antwerp is relying on the attraction of the residential projects

they are going to build in the future, instead of directly devising spatial ways of

limiting the growth of the periphery.

Looking at the population projections and how many residential projects are

constructed annually, the city concludes that with the implementation of these

two plans, it can keep up with the demand and thus has no real housing crisis

in numbers. However, the city does experience a trend of families moving out

of the city due to increasingly smaller apartments, and because they cannot afford

the apartments that fit their needs. An issue that Antwerp is actively trying

to solve by giving families a place in the inner-city through the densification of

the ring zone.

We might be right to conclude here that the city might be underestimating,

to some extend the effect the capping of almost the entire ring will

have on the popularity of the city. A cap with this length is unpreceded, and the

effect it has on the liveability of the city can be enormous. This might attract

more migration to the city than currently expected. Another point is Antwerp’s

intention to cater to the families that have left the city because the apartments

were too small or too expensive. Looking at how office rents went up

by 10 percent, and land prices by nearly 40 percent in a 500-metre radius of

Boston’s Big Dig (Ascher & Krupp, 2010, p. 195) – granted the most famous

example – it could be a little naïve to think that price-wise this area is suitable

for families that left the city because it was too expensive for their needs.

In extension of this, it might then be a missed opportunity that the role

of the left bank is missing in the narrative of the ring project, as well as in that

of the polycentric development. On the one hand, we see perhaps clear signs

that this region is increasing its connection to Antwerp with the urban edge or

densification Linkeroever, Zwijndrecht, and Burcht are getting. For Linkeroever

this might even mean attachment to the inner-city of Antwerp, with the addition

of being included in the low-emission zone within the bounds of the ring, and

85


the multimodal P+R that is being build. However, on the other hand we see

half-hearted measures, such as the design of the ring park. On the left, the

highway remains uncapped and framed by the high green shoulders, a design

that because of the new tunnel here, keeps the segregated landscape almost

exactly the same. Which is a shame, because the green ring could reach its

culmination in the diverse large-scale ecological zones of Linkeroever.

Vision

From the previous paragraphs we can establish that there is a missing link

between the two large structuring plans that Antwerp is going to implement in

the upcoming years – the ring project and the polycentric development of the

suburban region. We also saw that Antwerp is not directly trying to limit the

growth of its periphery, but is instead relying on the quality and pull of the two

previous plans.

From a population perspective, we noticed that Antwerp might be underestimating,

to some extend the effect the capping of almost the entire ring

will have on the popularity and population growth of the city, and how this in

turn will affect the rise in property value along the ring. And subsequently, that

this might mean that families might not be the demographic that is able to find

their home in the densified ring area. In extension of this, we saw how the left

bank; the role of Zwijndrecht and Burcht, and the role of Linkeroever as part of

the inner-city is missing in the current plans.

In light of these findings, this chapter would like to propose a strategy that tries

to solve these issues. A strategy that allows the city to attain a more polycentric

structure, while at the same time manages to keep a strong link between

the inner-city and the suburbs. A strategy that applies spatial limitations to the

growth of the periphery, and researches ways to expand the densification plans

of the city should the population grow harder than expected.

For an extensive strategy such as the one described above a few

assumptions will be made. The first (1) assumption is the main ambition of the

ring project. While the ultimate goal of the city of Antwerp is to completely cap

the ring, this might for whatever reason not happen. So, for the sake of this

strategy the assumption will be made that the entirety of the highway ring will

be relocated underground. The reason for doing this is to not have to go too

deep into which parts of the ring stays exposed, and which will not. This allows

us to shift our entire focus on designing the ring park to its fullest potential; as

a structure around the city that helps alleviate some of the effects of climate

change, resolves most of the air and noise pollution caused by the ring, and

gives a significant region of the inner-city and suburbs a quality green park

for recreation. Positioning the ring project like this, simultaneously creates a

86


scenario in which the ring park has the fullest potential to attract people to the

city, thus allowing us to explore a strategy that needs to maximise its densification

efforts.

In extension, the second (2) assumption will involve the future of the

left bank. For Linkeroever, the assumption will be made that, in light of the

needed densification, it will transition to become part of the inner-city structure

of Antwerp. As mentioned before there are many indicators that point

towards this end; like the low-emission zone, the new P+R, and the defined

urban edge. This decision would in a real-world scenario be, understandably,

quite politically coloured; which might be the reason why there is still so

much ambiguity to the plans, or lack of plans put forward by the municipality.

Especially taking into consideration the ability of the population to launch a

counteroffensive, like they did when the plans of the R2, the bigger sister of

Antwerp’s city ring, were made public. Extending our view beyond Linkeroever,

it might be prudent to also assume that the villages of Zwijndrecht and Burcht,

and possibly the southernmost section of the harbour, on the other side of the

Scheldt also receive some kind of urbanisation. This due to their close proximity

to the ring park and the city, the pending mobility improvements because of

it, and because of the current densification plans that Zwijndrecht and Burcht

are receiving.

Following the assumptions made in the previous paragraph the strategy has to

do several things on different levels of the metropolitan region.

On the metropolitan scale, this strategy would need to find a way

to give spatial direction to the peripheral regions in order to define and limit

their growth, without interfering with current economic activity. Allowing all the

growth to take place within either the inner-city or suburban region.

On the suburban scale, this strategy needs to give spatial direction to

the polycentric development and definition of the suburban region on both the

left and right side of the Scheldt, while keeping a relationship to the inner-city.

This means increasing the autonomy of the suburbs via the stimulation of

economic activity already present in the region while keeping a certain serving

function to the city, and the improvement of especially concentric mobility

between the different parts of the suburbs, which in turn also reduces the

pressure on the transport network of the inner-city. A potential starting point

for the polycentric development might be the P+R structures which Antwerp is

currently suggesting.

On the inner-city scale, this strategy needs to give thematic direction

to the green ring on the left bank, and create a densification plan for the city

and suburban districts along the ring, with Linkeroever as an integral part of

the inner-city of Antwerp. This means finding an economic driver for Linkeroev-

87


er and improving the connectivity of the district with the inner-city of Antwerp,

both physically and visually.

A possible initial direction for this strategy may lie in the interplay of the previously

established set for defining a city – the rampart, the traffic artery, and

the park – that we have seen in Antwerp’s Leien. Here one of the elements

from the Spaanse Omwalling – the trees – was used to improve the spatial

quality of the Leien. The interaction that occurs here in which an element from

one of the paradigms is used to solve a problem and/or improve the spatial

quality of one of the other paradigms could be useful for our various goals in

the metropolitan region. As we have seen in the exploratory chapter, traces of

the three paradigms are already present in the various stages of the metropolitan

region. At the edges of the metropole we find the large park structures

that Antwerp is attaching its green ring to, and the outer fortification belt. In

the suburban region, we find the inner fortification belts and their concentric

supply road which is currently an important car road. And in the plans for the

ring we find a park structure, and an important concentric public transport

and bicycle artery. Introducing the interplay between these three paradigms

could provide a way to define and limit the growth of the metropolitan region;

it could establish the polycentric development in the suburban region and

help define its bounds; and on the scale of the city is could provide thematic

direction for the development of the ring park on the left (and right) bank,

while at the same time increasing the climate resilience of the city, via a link to

the water element of the inundation areas and wet moats around the ramparts.

Applying the interplay between these three paradigms not only allows us to

imbed an economic and residential connection in the various city regions, but

a connection to culture, recreation, climate, and heritage as well. The application

can not only serve as a way to devise the individual strategies, but can

bind them all together as well. Especially the link to the first paradigm; to the

extensive defence network that scales the metropolitan region, can help in

connecting the various parts of the metropole through a strong historical link

that can speak to the imagination of its inhabitants.

With the goal and approach established we need to define a starting point for

this strategy and a few intermediate measurement points.

Reading the development plans the completion of the Oosterweel-link

somewhere around 2027 might be a good starting point. This project is the

cornerstone of the ring project, once this project is finished the municipality

will redirect its main focus to the existing part of the ring. At this point in time

all the new P+Rs should also be constructed along with the improved public

transport to support them. Leading up to 2027, plans can be developed for

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the densification process of Linkeroever, the ring zone, the polycentric hubs in

the suburban region, and the spatial plan for the metropolitan region.

For the existing part of the ring a timetable is not yet available. The

published proposals discuss a possible start somewhere around 2020. Since

parts of the project have not been granted a permit yet, we will set the start of

the underground relocation of the ring somewhere within the next five years;

between 2020 and 2025; and the completion somewhere between 2035 and

2040. At this point the bypass for through traffic (A102) is complete, and two

bridges have been constructed to reach Linkeroever via the capped ring. The

modal shift can now come to full effect. At this point the full focus can go to

the construction of the ring park, the densification along the ring and Linkeroever,

and the polycentric development of the suburban region, possibly at the

location of the P+R structures.

The densification of the area along the ring and Linkeroever can

probably start somewhere halfway during the underground relocation of the

ring road, when certain parts of it are finished. So, we will set a rough start for

this in 2030 and completion somewhere around 2045. In the same period,

the gradual shift to a more polycentric structure in the suburbs can start, as

should the implementation of the spatial strategy that limits the growth of the

peripheral regions.

After the completion of the densification of the ring and Linkeroever, the densification

focus can shift to the polycentric development of the city. Fully focusing

on the development along the P+R structure established during the construction

of the ring project and the modal shift to more public transport and short

distance traffic. In doing so, Zwijndrecht and Burcht have become part of the

suburban region of Antwerp, as well as the north-western sections of the harbour

along the green ring. Since there is no clear end to this densification, we

will set a global timeframe somewhere around 2050/2060.

The following spread will show the past few pages in graphic form; giving a

rough indication of the spatial implications of what has been discussed.

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Roadmap Antwerp 2050+

Oosterweel - Link

Capped Ring Road

2020 - 2027 2020/2025 - 2035/2040

- The Oosterweel-link is finished; the ring of Antwerp

is now fully round, and traffic no longer has to go

through Linkeroever;

- (New) P+Rs are constructed along with the

improved public transport to support them;

- Development plans for the dinsification along the

ring zone, Linkeroever, and the strategic hubs.

- The ring highway has been completely relocated

under the ground. Remedying noise, health, and

climate related issues;

- The A102 tunnel has been built to guide regional

traffic around the city;

- The public transport line above the capped ring has

been built, along with the already planned Scheldt

bridge to the south. In addition to this bridge, another

bridge to the north has been built to stimulate the

modal shift and the development of Linkeroever;

- Transit-oriented has started to form around the

P+Rs on the right bank of Antwerp;

Legend

Highway

Public transport

Tunnel - new

High density - inner city or sub-centre

Medium density - ring suburbs

Low density - suburbs or villages

90

Industrial or harbour


Green City Ring

Metropolitan Antwerp

2030 - 2045 2027 - 2050+

- The Ring Park has now been constructed on the

entirety of the capped; ring left and right;

- Linkeroever has transitioned from suburb to part of

the inner-city of Antwerp, and hosts the culmination

of the Ring Park;

- The city and the suburbs facing the Ring Park have

been densified to create a defined edge;

- A new public transport ring has been added on top

of the A102 tunnel and the R11 - the road of the

fortification belt - to better connect the

transit-oriented development;

- The spatial strategy that limits the growth of the

peripheral regions has been implemented.

- The P+R have now developed to fully functioning

polycentric nodes;

- The public transport ring of the fortification belt has

been extended on the left bank to connect to Burch,

Zwijndrecht, and Beveren, following the fort belt

there;

- The areas in the suburbs facing the Ring Park have

received further densification;

- Zwijndrecht and Burcht have become suburbs of

Antwerp;

- The habour areas along the Ring Park have been

redeveloped to residential areas;

- A part of the industrial area to the north of

Zwijdrecht has also been redeveloped to a

residential area; The Ring Park is now completely

defined by morphology.

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The previous pages have resulted in the following main research question:

How can the interplay between the set, the rampart, the traffic artery, and the

park, be used to developed a strategy that gives spatial direction to Antwerp’s

metropolitan region, its suburban region, and its inner-city?

To provide answer to this question, the following sub-questions per city region

have been formed:

The Metropolitan Region

1. How did the system of the Stelling van Antwerpen in Antwerp’s period as

the nation’s National Redoubt work?

2. How is the relationship between the remnants of this system and major

ecological, morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in

Antwerp’s metropolitan region?

3. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery, and

the park – give spatial direction and definition to the metropolitan region?

The Suburban Region

1. What was the composition of the the inner fortification belts in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

2. How do the remnants of this composition relate to the major ecological,

morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

3. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery,

and the park – create a polycentric strategy for the suburban region, while

keeping a relationship to the inner-city of Antwerp?

The City region

1. What was the composition of the defensive structure of the inner-city and

Linkeroever?

2. What is the spatial response of the area adjacent to the ring in the inner-city

and suburban region?

3. What are the basic morphological characteristics of the city districts along

the ring?

4. How can the interplay between the set – the rampart, the traffic artery, and

the park – give thematic direction to the green ring and create a densification

plan for the city and suburban districts along the ring, and Linkeroever

as part of the inner-city of Antwerp?

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Figure 1.42 - previous spread

Drawing of the roadmap to Antwerp

2050+.

93



II

The Metropolitan Region

2.1 De Stelling van Antwerpen

2.2 A Spatial Strategy for the Metropolitan Region


2.1

De Stelling van Antwerpen

On the past and present of Antwerp's defence system during its

time as the country's National Redoubt

After Belgium’s independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands

with the Treaty of London in 1939, the newly installed government and army

command decided that it was unrealistic to defend the whole country in case

of an impending attack and therefore appointed Antwerp as its National

Redoubt; a fortified stronghold into which the army, the king, and the government

could retreat when war was upon them, and there wait for help from

foreign allies (Het Archief, 2016; Busschots, 2014). The main incentive for this

decision was the political unrest in France after the self-coup of Napoleon III in

1951, and the growing call for the annexation of Belgium (Verboven, 2018a).

Antwerp was chosen over cities like Ostend, Namur (Namen), and Brussels,

mainly due to three reasons: (1) Antwerp already was a fortress, building the

Redoubt in the other cities would have been more expensive; (2) Antwerp was

the financial capital of Belgium; and (3) Antwerp was conveniently located

along the Scheldt, meaning it could be supplied more easily, and was better

accessible for foreign allies (Nagels, 2012, p. 48). The strategic appointment

of Antwerp especially hinged on the latter, as the neutrality of Belgium was

assured by the five major powers at the time - Great Britain, Austria, France,

Prussia, and Russia – with the signing of the Treaty of London. Meaning that in

the event that Belgium’s neutrality was violated, one of these countries would

come to aid (Busschots, 2014; Nilesh, 2014; Duffy, 2009). 18

The concept of a National Redoubt has been widely used throughout

history, especially in the 19th and 20th century, and during both World Wars.

The strategy was, among others, used by the Germans, the Swiss, and the

Dutch. For the latter the National Redoubt was Amsterdam from roughly 1974

till 1920, after which it was extended to Fortress Holland (Vesting Holland);

an area roughly covering the present-day Randstad (Kruizinga, Moeyes, &

Klinkert, 2014, pp. 4-7). Opinions on the effectiveness of using a National

Redoubt are divided. Belgium saw its National Redoubt crumble quite quickly

in the First and Second World War, even with the arrival of Britain. The Netherlands

suffered the same fate during the Second World War, in which Fortress

Holland was taken in a matter of days. The reason for these failures is not entirely

clear, both of these Redoubts were designed with the same components;

fortification belts in low-lying terrain, relying heavily on inundations and water

barriers with a lifeline to large body of water for foreign aid. Switzerland’s

National Redoubt located in the Alps – heavily mountainous terrain – proved

18.

This promise was upheld by Great

Britain when Germany violated the

agreements of the Treaty in August

of 1914 by invading Belgium. Britain

subsequently declared war on Germany

on the 4th of August 1914 (Nilesh,

2014, p. 1012).

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Figure 2.0 - Previous spread

Aerial photograph of Antwerp and its

metropolitan region (Google, 2020).

to be more resilient (Kaufmann & Kaufmann, 2014, pp. 207-208).

With Antwerp definitively appointed as National Redoubt by law in

1959, construction started on its three components: (1) a new larger rampart

to replace the Spaanse Omwalling, (2) fortification belts, and (3) inundation

areas. Antwerp was Belgium’s official redoubt from roughly the 1850s till the

end of the First World War, with a short reprise of the role during the Second

World war (Verboven, 2018a). Although the total design was never a military

success, many of its components have survived and are now important cultural,

historical, architectural, and ecological relics (Busschots, 2014).

This chapter will explore the design and working of the historic

Redoubt system and trace its heritage to present-day Antwerp in relation to

function, ecology, morphology, accessibility, and economy. The chapter will

conclude with a strategic spatial plan that uses the interaction between the

set – the rampart, the traffic artery, and the park – to give spatial direction and

definition to the metropolitan region.

The National Redoubt

After a half-hearted attempt from 1850 till 1858 to create a fortress with the

existing Spaanse Omwalling and several small forts some distance from the

city; 1859 marked a turning point with the city’s definitive appointment as

National Redoubt. This meant easier access to funding which allowed Antwerp

to rapidly build its defensive network. The plan consisted out of three parts: the

Grote Omwalling, several fortification belts, and inundation areas.

19.

Henri Alexis Brialmont (1821-1903)

was a major general and inspector

general of fortifications (The Editors

of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020).

Contrary to popular belief, Brialmont

did not design the fortification belts

himself, that was the work of the inspector

general of the genie Deannoy.

Brialmont did however, in his capacity

as member of the minister of war’s cabinet,

make some adjustments to the

original designs when the forts were

being built (Verboven, 2018a).

The Grote Omwalling built between 1859 and 1865 was meant to replace

the Spaanse Omwalling and the smaller forts, and give a very dense city some

much needed expansion space. The Omwalling increase the city’s surface

area by a factor of five, from 330 ha to 1630 ha, and enclosed several

neighbouring villages like Borgerhout and Berchem, and parts of the harbour

(Verboven, 2018b).

At the same time, construction started on the inner fortification belt

to keep the city safe from long-range artillery; a belt popularly called the

Brialmont Fortification belt, after Henri Alexis Brialmont. 19 A total of eight

forts – called fort 1 through 8 – were built at roughly 4 kilometres from the

ramparts, spaced at intervals of 2 kilometres from each other. This assured that

the forts could take the area behind, and between them under fire. The north

side of the city initially was not reinforced by forts, because the region could

be defended with the inundation areas. Between 1871 and 1882, however,

Fort Merxem was built to defend the plateau between the inundation area on

the north side of the city and the area next to the canal. The forts, except Fort

Merxem, were accessible via a paved road called the Krijgsbaan, and some

97


+++

+ + ++

++

+

++++++++++++++++++++++

Inundation area of the

estuarium of the

Scheldt River.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Netherlands

Belgium

++

+++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fort Doel

1580-1885

Scheldt Forts

Fort

Oudendijk

Fort

Liefkenshoek

Fort de Perel

Fort

Sint-

Marie

Fortje

Hendric

Fort Lillo

Fort St.

Philippe

++++++++++++++++++++

Fort

Stabroek

Fortje

Corderen

Batterij

Wilm

Schans

Smoutakker

10 to 12 kilometres

++++++

Fort Ertbrand

This an anti-tank ditch built b y Antwerp between 1937-193 9

4 km

Anti-Tank Fortification belt 1885-1939

5 kilometres

Fortje

Cappellen

Fort

Merxem

Schans

Drijhoek

Fort

Brasschaet

Fort

Schooten

to keep out the Germans.

Schans

Audaen

Fort 's

Gravenwezel

The Grote Omwalling 1859-1865

The Krijgsbaan extended to the left bank.

Left Bank of the Scheldt River

Defensive dyck

1870-1885

Fort van

Haesdonck

1906-1914

Schans

Landmolen

Fort

Bornhem

Schans

Puers

Schans

Halve

Maan

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

Schans

Lauwershoek

1906-1914

Fort van

Steendorp

Fort

Lierzele

Fort van

Cruybeke

Western Flank 1906-1914

Schans

Letterheide

Fort

Breendonck

Fort

Vlaamsch

Hoofd

4 km

Fort 8 Fort 7 Fort 6

Fort 5

Lunet

Deurne

Krijgsbaan, the current R11, connecting th e forts.

10 to 12 kilometres

Fort

Deurne

Fort 4

Fort

Waelhem

Fort 3

Fort 1

Fort van

Duffel

Inundation area of

the Small and Large

Schijn.

Fort 2

Brialmont Fortification belt 1859-1865

Eastern Flank 1870-1914

Schans

Boschhoek

Schans

Dorpveld

Fort

Kath-Waver

5 kilometres

Schans

Schilde

Fort

Oeleghem

Schans

Massenhoven

Fort

Broechem

Schans

Tallaert

Fort Lier

Fort

Koningshoyckt

Fort Kessel

98


Inundation system

Inundation system

Inundation system

Fortification Spiral

time later via railway (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014, pp. 76-

77).

The fortification belt on the left side of the Scheldt, initially only

defended by Fort Vlaamsch Hoofd and the inundation area, was extended

between 1870 and 1885 with the Forts van Curybeke and Zwijndrecht. This

belt was connected to the older, but refurbished, Fort Sint Marie via a defensive

dyke and Schans Halve Maan (a sconce). Fort Sint Marie, along with the

other Scheldt Fort, are the oldest forts in Antwerp’s defence system. Built during

the 16th century, they continued to defend the Scheldt river and the connecting

dykes. The forts on the left bank were also accessible via a Krijgbaan, minus

the railway (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014, pp. 76-77).

1870-1885

1870-1885

1870-1885

Fortification Spiral

Fortification Spiral

Fortification Belts

Fortification Belts

Fortification Belts

Scheldt Forts

Left Bank of

the Scheldt River

Scheldt Forts

Left Bank of

the Scheldt River

Scheldt Forts

Left Bank of

the Scheldt River

1580-1885

1580-1885

Western Flank

1906-1914

1580-1885

Western Flank

1906-1914

Western Flank

1906-1914

Anti-Tank Fortification belt 1885-1939

Anti-Tank Fortification belt 1885-1939

Brialmont Belt

1859-1865

Anti-Tank Fortification belt 1885-1939

Brialmont Belt

1859-1865

Brialmont Belt

1859-1865

Eastern Flank 1870-1914

Eastern Flank 1870-1914

Eastern Flank 1870-1914

Figure 2.1

Drawing of the defensive structure

during Antwerp’s time as National

Redoubt. The old map that was used

for this drawing KBR (KBR, n.d.).

The fortification belts 4 kilometres from the city were soon overtaken by the

firing range of new artillery – which now extended to an intimidating 7 kilometres.

This prompted the construction of the Anti-Tank, the Eastern Flank,

and Western Flank fortification belts between 1870 and 1914. Like their older

cousins, the positioning of these peripheral forts was determined by their firing

range. The forts were positioned 10 to 12 kilometres from the inner fortification,

with 4 to 5 kilometres between each fort. A sconce was placed between

each fort for additional support. This distancing positioned the northern belt

near the border with the Netherlands, and the east and west flank over the

river valley of the Rupel, Nete and Dijle; tributaries of the Scheldt River. In contrast

to the inner forts, the peripheral forts also needed to be able to defend

the area behind them in addition to the area next to, and in front of them. The

forts were supplied by the main traffic routes they protected, the Western Flank

forts were additionally accessible via train. These last additions brought the

total to 44 forts and 15 sconces (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014,

pp. 76-77).

Initially the positioning of forts and the level of reinforcement was

influenced by whether or not a certain area could be inundated; as illustrated

by the Grote Omwalling of which the northern side was significantly less

reinforced than the southern side, the defence system of Linkeroever, and the

Brialmont fort belt which did not cover the north. The presence of floodable

areas probably became less of an influence due to the same reason as why the

older belts were no longer effective: the increased firing range of artillery. This

hypothesis could be supported by the lack of recorded inundations after the

18th century.

A final addition to the system would come in the Interbellum; between

1937 and 1939 the northern section of the peripheral forts was reinforced by

a 33-kilometre-long anti-tank ditch, with a width of 6 metres, and a depth of

3 metres. Initially, the ditch was meant to be dry, but because seep could not

99


+

+++

+++++

++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Netherlands

Belgium

++

+++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This dotted line marks the historic inundation areas.

Fort

Sint-

Marie

Schans

Halve

Maan

Fort Lillo

Fort

Liefkenshoek

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

Fort van

Cruybeke

++++++++++++++++++++

Fort

Stabroek

Schans

Mastvest

Schans

Smoutakker

Noordkasteel

Schans

Brilschans

++++++

To Northen Park

Fort Ertbrand

The fortification spiral in the inner-city and Linkeroever is almost entirely gone.

Fortje

Cappellen

Schans

Drijhoek

Fort

Merxem

Schijn

Fort 3

Fort

Brasschaet

Fort

Schooten

valley

Fort 2

The Anti-tank ditch is now

Flanders's longest protected

ditch, connecting several

ecological zones. You can

cycle along parts of it.

Schans

Audaen

Schans

Schilde

Fort

Oeleghem

Fort 's

Gravenwezel

Fort van

Haesdonck

Fort 8

Fort 5

Fort 4

Fort

Broechem

Schans

Landmolen

Schans

Lauwershoek

Fort 7

Fort 6

Fort Kessel

Fort van

Steendorp

M ost of the historic inundation areas are still use d as flood areas today.

Fort Lier

Fort

Bornhem

Schans

Tallaert

Fort

Koningshoyckt

Schans

Puers

Fort

Lierzele

Fort

Breendonck

Fort

Waelhem

Fort van

Duffel

Fort

Kath-Waver

Schans

Boschhoek

Schans

Dorpveld

Legend

Recreation

100 Education

Museum

Commerce

Office

Nature/ecological

Defence

Housing

Agriculture

Current flood

risk area

Historic

inundation area


Inundation system - historic vs.

current

Inundation system - historic vs.

current

be prevented the shift was made to a wet moat. The ditch has a saw-shaped

course, with linear tracks of several hundred metres. In its course, the ditch

bridges roughly 13 metres of height difference; the water is kept in place via

a system of culverts and locks (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014, p.

41).

Fortification Spiral remnants

Fortification Spiral remnants

The above described defence system is a system based on concentric rings

accessible via radial roads; a system very familiar to Antwerp. Either by design,

but probably by chance, as almost none of the available literature describes

this shape; the total system can – granted with a bit of imagination – be seen

a spiral structure starting from the inner-city, gradually going outward to the

forts of the west flank. The shape is largely possible due to the linear direction

of the Scheldt forts. There is one 2014 study by the Province of Antwerp that

shows the spiral in drawing – the Kaderplan, Fortengordels rond Antwerpen

(Framework plan, fortification belts around Antwerp) – but does not expand

on why the structure is there or what it means, and shockingly does not even

mention the spiral intext.

Figure 2.2

Drawing of the remnants of Antwerp’s

defensive structure during its time as

National Redoubt. The map used is

from Google Maps (Google, 2020).

Remnants of the redoubt

The drawing on the next page shows how much of the Antwerp’s defence

system has been preserved to this day. As we can see, almost the entirety of the

peripheral and inner fortification belts has been preserved. Due to the massive

urban sprawl during the 1950s and 60s, the Brialmont forts can now be found

within the urban fabric of Antwerp’s suburban region. Continuing further inward

to the city, we see that there is not much left of Fort Vlaamsch Hoofd and

the Grote Omwalling; only Fort Burcht, two sconces, and a section of the wet

moat around NoordKasteel bear testament of what once was. As illustrated

in earlier chapters, the entirety of the Grote Omwalling was removed for the

construction of the ring highway, and Fort Vlaamsch Hoofd was buried under

a few metres of sand from the Scheldt river. As a result, we see the fortification

spiral observed in the previous section not continuing into the city, but stopping

around Fort Merxem.

Most of the forts have lost their military function, except for the fort

belt of (Fort van Cruybeke through Fort Sint-Marie) on the left bank. The forts

have now predominantly become home to recreational or cultural amenities,

with many becoming the base for associations or museums. Interestingly,

but perhaps not surprisingly, many of the forts have now become important

ecological reserves for the different bat populations in the region. A total of 19

forts and 1 sconce have been appointed as bat habitats. These bats and their

living environment are protected by law, meaning that any disturbance should

be avoided or compensated (Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014, p.

101


Potential agricultural belt

kFuture Ring Par

+

+++

+++++

++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Netherlands

Belgium

++

+++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scheldt Estuary

++++++++++++++++++++

P otential green radial

++++++

Peerdsb os radial

Northen Park of the Elsen, Masten, Paepen forests

forts

Potential

green

Schijn

belt with ecological

river valley

Green campus connection

R

i ver valley of the Scheldt

The Rupel river

River valley of the R

upel,

and

The Nete river

the Nete and Dijle

The Dijle river

Legend

102

Important ecological

areas

Current

corridors

Possible

corridors


Ecological structure - total

existing and potential

51). Many, but not all, of the defence structures have been marked as heritage

or protected landscape, or as city or villagescape (beschermde stads- en dorpsgezichten)

(Province of Antwerp & Fortengordels, 2014, p. 55).

Looking at the historic inundation areas we see that this currently coincides with

the designated flooding areas in the region. This is not surprising, since many

of the waterways have not been altered over the last few decades. The biggest

changes have occurred in the landscape that is now the harbour, and the district

of Linkeroever, which was raised artificially.

Ecological structure - radials

existing and potential

Ecological structure - tangents

existing and potential

There have been many plans for the fortification system over the years. Most of

these plans focus on individual forts, but there are two that study a larger scale:

the previously mentioned Kaderplan, Fortengordels rond Antwerpen (Framework

plan, fortification belts around Antwerp) from 2014, and the plan Herover de

fortengordel (recapture the fortification belt) from 2002. The former studies the

entirety of the redoubt system and comes to some of the same conclusions as

presented in this chapter; mainly the spiral and the large ecological structure

around the metropolitan region (next subchapter). The latter presents a plan for

the inner fortification belt on the left and right bank (see chapter 3.1 for more

information). What both of these plans have in common however, is that they

often focus on a very micro level – the scale of the individual fort – and scope

their strategy or development plan in such a way that it only includes the historical

and recreational dimensions, leaving what potential this system has from a

morphological, economic, or infrastructural point of view out of the study. The

Kaderplan study seems to have not received a follow-up since its release, the

Herover de fortengordel plan seems to have been only partially executed.

Ecological structure vs.

fortification spiral

Figure 2.3

Drawing of the defence system of

Antwerp in relation to large ecological

structures. The map used is from

Google Maps (Google, 2020).

The defence system in relation to large ecological structures

The dotted hatch on the left page shows and abstraction of the Biologische

Waarderingskaart en Natura 2000 Habitatkaart 2018 (Biological valuation map

and Natura 2000 habitat map 2018). The hatch represents all areas that are

deemed valuable or extremely valuable (Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek,

2018). We see that most of the historic inundation, and the current flood areas,

have been marked as valuable ecological zones. This should not come as a real

surprise, since the historic inundation was predominantly a natural occurring

phenomenon focussed around large natural entities, that were adapted to suit

the needs of Antwerp. In extension to the comments on the value of the forts as

fauna habitats on the previous page, we also see that the majority of the forts

are deemed ecologically valuable.

We can distinguish a system of radial and concentric ecological zones

of which the three largest are: (1) the Scheldt River Valley leading to the Schel-

103


Antwerpen

+

+++

+++++

++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Netherlands

Belgium

++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Oost-Vlaanderen

Antwerpen

+++++++++

++++++++++++++++++++

++++++

Low density living in the forest

Agricultural linear development villages

Linear villages

City

suburb

Antwerp

Sint-Niklaas

Oost-Vlaanderen

Antwerpen

City suburb

Agricultural linear development villages

Lier

Formation of new centre function locations

104

Oost- V

laanderen

nt

Vl aams-Braba

Mechelen

Antwerpen

Vlaams-Brabant


++ +

++++++++++++++++++++

+++

++

+++

S u b ur b

++++++

++++++++

Structuring influence of the

fortification spiral

dt’s Estuary (radial), (2) the river valleys of the Scheldt’s tributaries the Rupel,

Nete, and Dijle, and (3) the Northern Parks of the Elsen, Masten, and Paepen

Forests. The latter two form a large semicircle around Antwerp. We can further

distinguish the three radials Antwerp is connecting its city and suburban region

to with the future Ring Project; the Peerdsbos, Schijn River Valley, and Campus

radial (ending in Middelheim), of which the latter is mostly a parkway connection.

Type of morphology along spiral

C

Low density linear villages

C

C

Cross-boundary structure

municipal and provincial

C

Reading the plans of the Ring Park, we noticed that these green areas are used

as defining structural elements, and as structures that add to climate adaptation.

Extending this notion to the map on the left page, we could establish

a few similar elements on the regional scale that could give structure to the

various urban and rural settlements in the region and complement the leftovers

of the fortification spiral. Starting with the two concentric elements, we see the

earlier mentioned semicircle of the northern parks and the river valley, including

the peripheral fort belts and anti-tank ditch, as a possible defining structure

for Antwerp’s city region. The second element is a potential green necklace

using the Krijgsbaan on both the left and right bank, and using the forts as

natural hubs; a necklace that might give a defining character to the suburban

region.

The various ecological radials could link these three green rings together.

If we expanded the set of valuable landscapes (forests and river valleys)

to not only include ecological zones, but agricultural landscape as well, we

can establish a few more radials that could provide definition to the low-density

development beyond the suburban region.

++++ ++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++

++

Figure 2.3

Drawing of the fortification spiral in

relation to morphology. The map used

is from Google Maps.

The spiral in relation to morphology

Shifting the view to the morphological structure of the Antwerp region we see

that the fortification spiral has a certain structuring quality. The inner sections

of the spiral include the inner-city of Antwerp, it continues on to define the

city’s suburbs, even further out it encompasses the various low-density (linear)

villages around Antwerp, and it concludes with the three neighbouring cities:

Lier, Mechelen, and Sint-Niklaas. This quality should perhaps come to no

surprise as defining and encompassing certain areas (for defence) was exactly

what these structures were designed to do.

In relation to the ecological analysis of the previous spread, it seems

that the remnants of the National Redoubt could provide a defining quality to

the region as a whole, and perhaps at the same time a stronger connection –

maybe predominantly recreational and ecological – between Antwerp and Lier,

Mechelen, and Sint-Niklaas.

105


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Bridge to

the other

side.

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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The Netherlands

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Belgium

No public

transport to

these forts.

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Meandering co nnection between t

Car and bicycle

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The last fort is not

accessible via the

defensive dyke

Radial

Ferry

crossing

Meandering bicycle connection

Cycle and public transport radial

++++++++++++++++++++

.

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The Brialmont belt has good accessibility by car, bicycle, and public transport.

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between forts; inter mittent public transport con nection.

Cycle and public transort radials

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Bicycle path running along anti-tank ditch.

Two bridges

across

the channel

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Meandering connection bicycle connection between forts; most forts are accessible by public transport.

Train and

bicycle radial to forts.

+++

Legend

Recreation

Education

Museum

also to these forts.

Commerce

Office

Nature/ecological

+++++

Defence

Housing

Agriculture

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Less direct accessibility

spiraling out of the city centre

Radial connections become more

important towards the periphery

At the same time however, reading the jurisdictional borders present in the

map on the previous page, we see that the remnants of the National Redoubt

are not only situated in a total of 23 different municipalities, but also cross

provincial borders. The final section of the left bank forts near Sint-Niklaas

are situated in the Province of Oost-Vlaanderen (East-Flanders); the rest is in

Antwerp’s province.

All the forts are currently the property of the municipalities they inhabit. This is

the result of an arrangement started in 1971 and finalised in 1977, in which

the ministry of national defence (ministerie van landsverdediging) sold the forts

to the ministry of finance, which subsequently sold it to the municipalities. This

as a result of the decree that made the forts lose their military status (Nagels,

2012, p. 35). This fragmentation over so many municipalities is probably the

reason why there is no overarching strategy regarding the fortification system.

Figure 2.4

Drawing of the Accessibility of the defence

structures. The map used is from

Google Maps (Google, 2020).

Accessibility of the defence structures

The drawing to the left shows the accessibility of the defence structures.

Reachability for the Brialmont belt is notability, and unsurprisingly, better for

all modes of transport than that of the peripheral forts, with the exception of

the bicycle network, which grands equal access to all forts. Public transport is

the category that is lagging behind; some of the forts on the left bank are not

a reachable via bus or train. Starting from Antwerp central station, all forts

are accessible by car in 30 minutes, bicycle in 90 minutes, and 60 minutes

by public transport (those that are reachable by public transport) (TravelTime,

2020).

The infrastructural network of highways, trunk roads, bicycle highways,

and public transport, is mainly based on a radial system extending

outwards from Antwerp. A few concentric connections are present. The

Krijgsbaan, the historic road giving access to the Brialmont forts, is an important

traffic artery of the suburban region. The Krijgsbaan on the left bank has

a similar, but less extensive role. A section of the anti-tank ditch doubles as a

recreational bicycle path. Almost the entirety of the eastern and western flanks

are accessible via a concentric bicycle (highway). However, distances between

access roads and the forts do become longer. For highways and train traffic,

only the western flank is accessible via a concentric connection. As a result, we

see that the peripheral forts are much more reliant on the radial connections

extending from Antwerp, than the inner belts.

Following the fortification spiral outward from the city, we find that

the forts are very reachable up until the Lunette Halve Maan, where the

highway intersects the Krijgsbaan of the left bank. The spiral can be picked

up again after Fort Sint-Marie, at the border of the harbour as a bicycle road.

A ferry provides crossing between the two remaining Scheldt forts. Following

107


Highways and Highways trunk and roads and trunk trunk roads roads

Bicycle Bicycle roads Bicycle - roads highway roads - highway and - highway local

and and local local

the harbour, the anti-tank ditch is only intermittently accessible by bicycle or

Figure 2.5

public transport; the ditch does not function as a concentric (bicycle) connection).

Drawing of the different transport

modes and their infrastructure.

Starting from the railway, we see that the spiral can be picked up via the

Public transport Public Public - transport bus - bus - bus

Public transport Public Public - transport train and - train - ferry train and and ferry rence ferry for these drawings (OpenStreet-

OpenStreetMaps, was used as refebicycle

path along the track of the ditch. After crossing the canal, the spiral

Map, n.d.).

becomes somewhat watered down until the western flank (left of the cycle and

public transport radial on the map); the spiral can be traced in large movements,

but no direct track is available for bicycle or motorised traffic. The western

flank provides good access to the forts on all fronts. At the end of the spiral

– at Sint-Niklaas – we find a possible loop back to Antwerp in the form of the

chaussee to Ghent, and the railway and bicycle highway running parallel to it.

The chaussee ends, as discussed in previous sections, with a visual axis to the

cathedral starting from Zwijndrecht.

This spread shows the different infrastructural networks discussed on the

previous page. These drawings were compiled using a combination of Google

Maps and Open Street Map. The highway and bicycle networks show the

future state of the network after the ring project is completed, for the highway

these sections (the Oosterweel-Link and the A102) are drawn with a dotted

line. The train and ferry map also shows the three variants for the second railway

connection discussed in previous chapters.

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section of the R1.

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carriageway connecting the E17 and A12.

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Mechelen's current ring.

This was to become the A101 to Mechelen.

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Legend

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Through traffic

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The R2, or the big ring around Antwerp

Almost since the opening of the R1 in 1969 – the current ring around Antwerp

– the Intercommunale E3 20 determined that a larger ring around the city

of Antwerp would be necessary to avoid congestion. A plan for such a road,

at least one that circumscribed the south-eastern part of the city was already

drawn up in the early 1960s. Starting form 1972, several plans would be

drawn up for a north-western extension of this road, going through Antwerp’s

harbour. The plans from 1972 and ’73 also included a bypass of the R1 to

Mechelen. Due to several factors, ranging from massive protests from the

inhabitants of the different municipalities to financial shortages which prompted

successive ministers of public works to choose different priorities, the R2

was never built. At least, not in its entirety. For a short moment in the first half

of the 1980s the plans for the left bank section of the R2 were revived, with the

construction of the Liekenshoek tunnel in 1991; the harbour tunnel, and the

only toll road in the country. However, again due to heavy protests of the local

inhabitants and politicians, a connection between the E34 and E17 was never

made (Wegen-Routes.be, 2016).

The maps to the left show the three different plans drawn up for the

R2, in relation to the highway development currently described in the mobility

plan for 2030. In addition to this, the second rail connection to the harbour is

shown with the three options for a connection to the eastern hinterlands. The

constructions on both of these projects is projected to start after the completion

of the Oosterweel-link in 2024 (Flemish Government, 2010).

2030 R2 mobility plan

Figure 2.6

Drawing of the different plans of the

R2 and the current mobility plan,

and the plan for the second railway

connection through the harbour (Wegen-Routes.be,

2016; Google, 2020).

As mentioned in previous chapters, the construction of the Oosterweel-link will

disconnect Linkeroever from the highway, with the main intent being to solve

the congestion problems on Linkeroever. For the main route for through traffic

of both cars and freight trains, we see that the track currently put forward in

the mobility plan follows the trace of the historic R2 plans. The reason for this

is quite simple; the route of the 1973 plan is still reserved for this function in

the Gewestplan 21 of Flanders. A plan now replaced by Ruimtelijke Uitvoeringsplannen

(RUPs) (spatial implementation plans). Both of these plans follow

the same principles; they denote certain functions to a specific area, and to a

limited extend give spatial explanation to the structural vision of government of

Flanders or the province. The current RUP does just this; try to anchor existing

structures with limited expansion.

The original idea in the vision statement for 2030 was to extend the

A102 tunnel to the E19 highway, via the R11 (the Krijgsbaan), and extend the

second railway connection (also as a tunnel) to the railway near the airport,

going to Lier (Flemish Government, 2018). Both of these extensions failed

however, due to major protests from the adjacent municipalities (Flemish Gov-

111


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few large industrial areas around the city.

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the and highway, railway, channel (, and g hi hway) bicycle form an industrial important tangential corr i dor.

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Industrial areas vs. fortification

spiral

Existing and potential industrial

clusters

ernment, 2018; Lantis, n.d.). The current plan for the highway is to expand the

capacity of the capped south-eastern part of the ring (R1), making it the only

section of the ring to cater to through traffic (Lantis, n.d.).

The definitive route of the second rail connection is still unclear. There

are currently two routes in consideration; the first (1) is an extension of the

A102 tunnel going all the way past Lier; the second (2) is an above ground

extension parallel to the E313 to Maastricht, and then either using the R2

reservation to connect to Lier, or extending the line along the highway and

connecting to the railway to Germany (coming from Lier) some kilometres

later. The role of Lier in this plan is not entirely clear, some older routes specifically

connected to Lier but this seems to have been let go in the current routes.

The main incentives behind the railway connection seem to be to increase the

accessibility to the harbour, freeing up capacity for passenger transport on the

city railways; the other incentive is to improve the connection to the railway to

Germany, the Iron Rhine (IJzeren Rijn) (Zeuwts, 2012; Poort Oost Antwerpen,

n.d.; Ademloos.be, 2012).

20. - previous page

An association of municipalities,

provinces, and the ministry of public

works that determined the construction

of highways (Wegen-Routes.be, 2016).

21. - previous page

A Gewestplan is a structural plan that

Flanders used pre-2000 to define

certain functions to a specific area. It

also, although in limit form, gave spatial

explanation to the structural vision

of the government of Flanders. The

plans have since 2000 been replaced

by Ruimtelijke Uitvoeringplannen

(RUPs) (spatial implementation plans)

(Directie Gebiedsontwikkeling, 2018).

Figure 2.7

Drawing of Antwerp’s infrastructure in

relation to its industrial areas Google,

2020).

For the strategy development part of this chapter, the current highway track for

through traffic will be used. According to the latest plans, this route will mainly

run underground, thus keeping noise and air pollution to a minimum. This

track also fits in the narrative of stimulating more freight traffic via de current

waterways and railways; adding more roads would perhaps communicate the

opposite. A decision regarding the second railway connection falls outside of

the scope of the strategy, as this would require it to look beyond the scale of

the metropolitan region, and because there still is a lot of ambiguity regarding

the motives of this railway connection.

Antwerp’s infrastructure in relation to industry

The map to the left shows the larger industrial areas in Antwerp’s metropolitan

region. Immediately evident from this map is that these areas follow a similar

linear development structure as the housing areas of Antwerp. Railways,

highways, and waterways are important carriers of the radial system. The most

dominant radials are centred around the Albert Canal going from the harbour

to Liège, the A12 to Brussels, and the Scheldt with the harbour to the north of

Antwerp and some larger industry going to the south.

Besides these radial axes, we see that the collection of highways,

railways, and waterways between Sint-Niklaas, Mechelen, and Lier form an important

concentric concentration of industrial zones, connecting to the junction

of the Albert Canal with the E313. We see a potential concentric connection

in the suburban region of Antwerp in the form of the Krijgsbaan on both the

left and right bank. This corridor intersects a couple of large industrial areas

113


around the city, including Antwerp’s International Airport, and ends at the

harbour at both ends. In extension of this, we see a potential radial in the form

of the chaussee to Ghent and the railway parallel to it, creating a link between

the peripheral semi-circle and the Krijgsbaan semi-circle; effectively mirroring

the radial of the canal on the east side of the city.

Comparing the radial concentric system of industrial areas, we see an indirect

link to the fortification spiral. The concentric connections the spiral made use

of – the Krijgsbaan, and the railway and river valley of the Rupel, Nete, and

Dijle – have retained their infrastructural importance over time, albeit with a

different motive.

114


115


2.2

A Spatial Strategy for the

Metropolitan Region

On the interplay between the rampart, the traffic artery,

and the park

This chapter set out to analyse the historic structure of Antwerp’s defence

system during its time as Belgium’s National Redoubt, on a systems level, and

subsequently trace the relationship between the remnants of this system along

the major structures of Antwerp’s metropolitan region. It did so to try to answer

the following two sub-questions:

1. How did the system of the Stelling van Antwerpen in Antwerp’s period as

the nation’s National Redoubt work?

2. How is the relationship between the remnants of this system and major

ecological, morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in

Antwerp’s metropolitan region?

The following pages will present the main findings of the analysis as an answer

to these sub-questions, and subsequently try to design a strategy that attempts

to translate these findings into a spatial strategy for Antwerp’s metropolitan

region.

Antwerp’s National Redoubt

Antwerp’s defence system consisted out of three parts; (1) the Grote Omwalling,

an extensive rampart that replaced the Spaanse Omwalling and increased

the city’s surface by a factor of five; (2) two main fortification belts, the Brialmont

and left bank belt at 4 kilometres from the city, and a second belt at 10

to 12 kilometres from the city; inspired by the firing range of long-range artillery;

(3) an extensive inundation system based on natural occurring waterways

that had a large influence on the design of the Omwalling and inner fort belts,

but which was let go for the design of the peripheral forts.

The defence system consisted out of concentric rings that were accessible via

radial roads or railways; a system still present in Antwerp today. Interestingly

we can distinguish a third structuring element; a spiral that traces all elements

of the fortification system from the inner-city to the periphery, ending at the

chausse to Ghent near the city of Sint-Niklaas.

116


Much of this system has survived till this day. The peripheral forts, the belt on

the left bank and the Brialmont belt are, with a few exceptions, all preserved;

this then also holds up for the observed fortification spiral. Going into Linkeroever

and the city, we see that almost all of the historic defence structure has

disappeared; effectively breaking the spiral.

Relationship between the defence system and Antwerp’s

major structures

In terms of ecology we see that almost all forts have been marked as ecologically

valuable for flora and fauna, and that the historic inundation areas

coincide with the current flood areas, which are also marked as ecologically

valuable. We can establish a system of radial and concentric ecological zones

that run from the periphery to the inner-city. Extending the defining aspect of

the future ring park we can establish two more potential green rings that can

define a city region: the Brialmont belt, and the semicircle of that the river valleys

of the Scheldt’s tributaries (concentric) and the Northern Parks (concentric)

describe.

Regarding morphology we have seen that the fortification spiral has a certain

structuring quality; while spiraling toward the periphery it encompasses

the three elements of Antwerp’s metropole: the inner-city, the suburbs, and

the low-density villages surround Antwerp. It concludes with Antwerp’s three

neighbouring cities: Lier, Mechelen, and Sint-Niklaas. This combined with the

ecological findings could provide a defining structure and connection in the

region. However, this also adds some difficulty, as the remnants of the National

Redoubt span 23 municipalities and 2 provinces.

In relation to infrastructure we see that Antwerp is based predominantly on a

radial system of highways, railways, and waterways, with two main concentric

connections, the Krijgsbaan in the suburban region, and the highway, railway,

and waterway connection on the periphery. This also roughly outlines the dominant

industrial radial in the metropole; the Albert Canal, the A12 to Brussels,

and the Scheldt to the Harbour, and the concentric link between Sint-Niklaas

and the canal on the periphery. The Krijgsbaan and chaussee to Ghent show

potential as a concentric and radial economical link, respectively.

Regarding reachability of the forts, we see the forts near the city are

more easily reached than the forts at the periphery. A combination of radial

and concentric connections can be used to reach the forts in the suburban

region. Radials become more important toward the periphery; concentric connections

are present but not continuous. This also means the fortification spiral

can at the moment not be fully used for recreational purposes.

117


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Sint-Niklaas

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118

Scheldt Estuary

Bicycle highway and

public transport route

establishing a link

between the

Brialmont belt and the

industrial areas there,

and closing the

fortification spiral for

recreational purposes.

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The Brialmont belt will

become a public tranport

and cycle boulevard

linking the different

industrial and cultural

activities on the left and

right bank; stimulating

desification.

I

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I

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I I I

The new industrial

axis here will also

loop the fortification

spiral back to

Antwerp via the

Chaussee to Ghent,

ending in Linkeroever

with a line of sight to

the Cathedral.

Agricultural radial to forest

Industrial development will

remain along the important

infrastructural arteries in the

final section of the spiral. The

areas will be connected to

Antwerp via three radials: the

canal to the east, the chaussee

to Linkeroever to the west, and

the A12 (to the right)

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The Netherlands

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Belgium

This bicycle highway

will connect the

Brialmont belt to the

harbour and anti-tank

belt.

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Scheldt river valley

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Green chamb

The

Agricultural radial

Incorporating elements of

the defence system in the

ring development to

accentuate the spiral

in the city. The water

element could solve

contemporary

issues.

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around the

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Bicycle highway along the

anti-tank ditch for recreational

purposes and forming a

tangential connection between

the villages.

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iversity.

Green radial to the un

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Northern forest parks

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suburban

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metro p region

olitan

River valley of the

Mechelen

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region

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Schijn river valley

Agricultural ra dial to airport

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chamber in

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Added public transport

and bicycle highway

I

Added bicycle highway

industrial corridors

River valley

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Lier

rivers

The Fortification spiral as

the third structuring

element, mediating

between the radial and

concentric system.

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Each of element of Antwerp is

defined by a green ring or

belt; the inner-city by the Ring

Park, the suburban region by

the Brialmont fortification

belt, and the metropolitan

region by the river valley of

the Rupel, Nete, and Dijle, and

the Northern Parks.

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Inner-city fabric

Suburban region

Low density linear

development

Industrial areas

Forest or

agricultural area

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Bicycle highway on the

other side of the river

valley providing better

access to the industrial

areas and fortification

belt.

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Low density region

Low density region

Suburban region

Suburban region

Sururban

Sururban

Low density region

Low density region

region

City

region

City

Low density region

Low density region

City

C

Low Low density density region

region

Green belts Green around belts the around city regions the city regions

Green radials Green connecting radials connecting the green the belts green belts

The fo

eleme

Figure 2.8 - left

Drawing of the green belts in the

metropolitan region.

Figure 2.9 - right

Drawing of the green radials in the

metropolitan region connecting the

green belts.

Spatial strategy for the metropolitan region

The drawing on the adjacent page shows a cumulation of all the components

of the spatial strategy that tries to give concrete definition to the metropolitan

region of Antwerp, and reengage it with the remnants of the historic defence

system, thereby establishing a link to the set of the rampart, the traffic artery,

and the park. The following elements will reflect per component of the strategy.

Figure 2.10

Drawing of the spatial strategy for the

metropolitan region (Google, 2020).

Green belts as defining elements of the city’s regions

The defining elements of the three city regions – the green belts – are an

intricate play between the set of the rampart, traffic artery, and park discussed

in the previous sections. For the largest belt, the one around the metropolitan

region, the first and second paradigm share a historic symbiotic relationship.

This belt is a combination of the river valley of the tributaries of the Scheldt

and the Northern Parks, both are large ecological structures that once shared

a role as inundation areas in the defence system, and both to this day hold

access to the peripheral forts. In terms of infrastructure, the river valley already

had a pre-established function as traffic artery; the river itself functions as a

waterway for the local industry, with the concentric highways and trainways

sharing this function. Added in this strategy is a bicycle highway spanning the

entirety of the belt. Through the Northern Parks this road runs along the track

119


of the anti-tank ditch, for the river valley a rough connection is made between

the three cities of Lier, Mechelen, and Sint-Niklaas, and the forts in this region.

This creates a historical and recreational link at the edge of the metropolitan

region, next to the economical one that was already present. And it creates a

concentric bicycle connection to main traffic radials leading to Antwerp.

For the belt around the suburban region, the Brialmont belt, the traffic

artery and the fortification history share a strong connection. Krijgsbaan in

this strategy will become an important concentric public transport and bicycle

boulevard, linking the different suburbs, forts and industrial areas on both

the right and left bank of the Scheldt together. The link to the park paradigm

will here be made through the boulevard itself; by lining it with trees, and by

the individual forts whom over time have become green, ecological hubs that

are important breeding grounds for the local bat and bird population. The

Krijgsbaan will therewith function as a pearl necklace; a concentric corridor

that links the various economic, cultural, recreational and ecological zones in

the area together. Stimulating densification and the creation of a defined edge

to the suburban region.

Regarding the final belt around the inner-city of Antwerp the park and

traffic artery paradigm will be the same as what is currently planned; a green

ring around the city, and a concentric bicycle and public transport connection

on top of it. However, this will be extended to go around the entirety of the

ring park, this time including the section around Linkeroever to stimulate its

transition to becoming part of the inner-city of Antwerp. For the link to the rampart

paradigm, a thematic connection will be made to the water element of the

Grote Omwalling on both the left and right bank – the wet moat around the

city, and the inundation system on Linkeroever. To attain a more direct link to

this part of the city’s history for cultural and recreational purposes, but to also

help resolve some of the city’s contemporary problems relating to climate adaptation.

The water element could be useful to handle the city’s waters system.

Green radials mediating between the defining belts

The system of green radials extending from the periphery into the city fabric will

be expanded. The main motives behind this lie in the creation of more recreational

corridors between the three green belts, while at the same time defining

areas that limit the growth of the low-density settlements in the region between

the second and third green belt. Next to the already established Peerdsbos,

Schijn river valley, and university radial, an agricultural radial is added that

connects the suburban region to Lier and the Scheldt’s tributary via the open

structure of Antwerp’s airport. This area is perfectly suited for this as building is

prohibited here due to the flight path of landing planes. The Peerdsbos radial

is extended with an agricultural radial along the eastern section of the harbour

120


Low

density region

Sururban

region

Suburban region

Low density region

density region

Low

Low

density

region

City

City

fortification spiral as the third structuring

ent

Industrial corridors; the Brialmont belt as connecting corridor

The fortification spiral as cultur

Figure 2.11

Drawing of the industrial corridors in

the metropolitan region, with the Brialmont

belt as the connecting corridor.

on the right bank to connect to the northern edge of the peripheral green

belt, and two other green forest chambers are added to limit the growth of the

low-density settlements. On the left bank two radials are added to the north

and south of Zwijndrecht, and further to the south a larger agricultural radial

to connect the forts to Sint-Niklaas and a nearby forest area.

Industrial corridors

The existing industrial corridors along the Albert Canal, the A12, and the river

valley of the Scheldt’s tributaries will remain there and can be expanded in

this area. In addition to this, the Brialmont belt will act as a connecting belt

between the various industrial areas in the suburban region, and connect to

the harbour on both sides of the Scheldt. Whether industrial areas can expand

here, and to where, will be determined in the next chapter. An additional

industrial corridor on the left bank in the form of the chaussee to Ghent, and

its adjacent railway will be made to bind the larger industrial entities along this

road to the Brialmont belt on one side, and the industrial belt on the periphery.

121


City

Low

density region

Sururban

region

Suburban region

Low density region

density region

Low

Low

density

region

City

City

The fortification spiral as the third structuring

Industrial corridors; elementthe Brialmont belt as connecting corridor

Industrial corridors; the Brialmont belt as connecting corridor

The fortification spiral as cultural, economic, recreational, and ecological carrier

The for

The fortification spiral as the third structuring element and cultural, eco-

nomic, recreational, and ecological carrier

The fortification spiral will be established as the third structuring element,

mediating between Antwerp’s radial and concentric system. By improving the

infrastructural facilities along this spiral, a better cohesion between the different

city regions and neighbouring cities can be made on a cultural, economic,

ecological, and recreational level. These motives can overlap, as illustrated in

the new harbour connection; a public transport and bicycle corridor that serves

as an economic connection to the harbour, but also as a recreational and ecological

connection to the Scheldt Estuary. Another example is the new industrial

corridor on the chaussee to Ghent, this creates an economic stimulus while

simultaneously establishing a loop at the end of the fortification spiral back to

the city, ending at Linkeroever with a visual axis to the cathedral.

Figure 2.12 - left

Drawing of the fortification spiral as

the third structuring element in the

metropolitan region.

Figure 2.13 - right

the fortification spiral as cultural, economic,

recreational, and ecological

carrier.

122


123



III

The Suburban Region

3.1 The Suburban Fortification Belt

3.2 A Polycentric Strategy for the Suburban Region


126

Figure 3.0 - Previous spread

Aerial photograph of Antwerp and its

suburban region (Google, 2020).


3.1

The Suburban

Fortification Belt

On the potential role of the inner fortification belts in

Antwerp's upcoming polycentric city

The inner two fortification belts perhaps had a difficult start. Almost as soon as

they were constructed between 1859 and 1885 they were deemed obsolete

due to the advances in the firing range of long-range artillery. Fortification

belts that once laid some distance from the city, currently find themselves surrounded

or at the periphery, of the suburban region of Antwerp.

Arguably the most famous of the two belts; the Brialmont belt, and its

accompanying Krijgsbaan has now become a semi-important concentric car

and bicycle corridor. As a result of its location and the potential connecting

quality it can bring to the suburban region, Antwerp has long loomed over

the boulevard as a way to increase the connectivity of the city. As already

discussed in previous chapters, the Krijgsbaan, or R11 as it is now called, has

been part of a few plans of the years. Starting out as a small section of the

1960s plan for the R2, and in recent years as part of the A102 and second

railway connection to the harbour. Both of these plans were in effort to alleviate

some of the traffic congestion of the ring, the R1. However, both of these

plans were to no avail, as the local municipalities would have none of it, not

even when both the highway and the railway were to be put completely underground.

This immediately shows the difficulty of devising an overarching plan

for these belts; its splintering in as much as seven municipalities.

The following chapter will explore the composition of the inner fortification

belts and trace the remnants of these structures to present-day Antwerp in relation

to function, ecology, morphology, accessibility and economy. This chapter

will conclude with a polycentric strategy for the suburban region of Antwerp;

leaning on the positioning of the inner fortification belt as a pearl necklace of

the previous chapter that links the various economic, cultural, recreational and

ecological zones in the suburban area together.

127


Fort de

Perel

The inundation

The Defensive Dyke

Lunette

Halve

Maan

area was

Fort St. Marie

Fort St. Philippe

Linkeroever was the weakest point of

the defence system of Antwerp.

Therefore the city started to construct

the Left Bank of the Scheldt River

Fortification Belt in 1980. This included the

construction of the Fort van Kruibeke and the

Fort van Zwijndrecht, and further to the north

Lunette Halve Maan and The Defensive Dyke,

which connected to Fort St. Marie. This fort was

older and part of the Scheldt fortification, with

the construction of the new belt, it received

a refurbishment and enlargement.

T he Rot

level with the positioning of the Defensive Dyke.

Blokkersdijk

This was the northern inundation area.

Wa t er could enter through her e.

The Rotbeek.

The inundation had an a verage depth of 3 to 4 metres

De

Borgerweertpolder

Fort

Calloo

Fort Vlaamsch

Hoofd

.

Fort

Isabelle

River fortification belt (1870-1885)

The Laar b eek

Ruin of

Fort Laar

Suikerdijk

The forts of the left bank were also

connected with their own 'Krijgsbaan'.

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

The water co

Lunet

Hoboken

The water could get al the way to here.

Left Bank of the Scheldt

Fort

Burcht

Fort van

Kruibeke

uld enter th rough her

The water could get al the way to here.

e

.

4 kilometre

This is the Brialm

The fortification belt could not be positioned further than

4 kilometr es from the ramparts because of the maximum fire

range of artillery.

The area

Brialmon

troops in

2 kilometre

2 kilometre

Fort 8

Fort 7

128

Fort 8 had to be

positioned right next

to the river to stop

enemy ships.


The water could

go u n der

t h e tracks.

Fort

Merxem

The water could go al the way to here.

3 kilometre

Scho oten

b eek

This area was clled the Schijn inundatie area.

Kleine

Schijn

Fort 1 was built between the

inundation areas of the Grote and

Kleine Schijn, on 1,5 kilometres

from Wijnegem.

Fort 1

3 kilometre

(1887-1914)

The stream valleys of the Kleine and

Grote Schijn ensured that the northern part

of Antwerp could inundate.

Fort

Deurne

The stream "Grote

Schijn”.

2 kilometre

Fort 2

Grote Omw alling

Lunette

Deurne

between the Grote Omwalling and the

t belt could also be used to position

case of an impending attack.

ont Fortification

Fort 6

2 kilometre

3 kilometre

Belt

Fort 5

2 kilometre

(1859-1865)

2 kilometre

Fort 4

Fortification

this is because

belts

a fort is

2 kilo metre

Fort 3

always need to follow a straight or curved line,

most vulnerable when attacked from the sides.

The Brialmont belt was built only to

the south side of the city because the

landscape could no be inundated here.

When the plans were drawn-up,

the position of Fort 4 was decided

first. Along with forts 1 and 8, Fort

4 held important positions in the

fortification belt.

129


Influence of the inundation areas on the design of the ramparts and fortification belts.

The Brialmont belt and the belt of the left bank of the

Scheldt

The map on the previous spread gives a more detailed view of the three components

of Antwerp’s National Redoubt defence system: the Grote Omwalling,

several fortification belts, and inundation areas. It should be noted that the

version of the Grote Omwalling visible on this map is the second iteration of

the rampart, see chapter 4.1 for further information on the different iterations.

On the map we clearly see the initial influence of the option to

inundate a certain area on the level of reinforcement. As the maps shows, the

northern part of the Grote Omwalling is significantly less reinforced than its

southern counterpart. The only real defensive structure on the north side is the

Noordkasteel (North castle), a structure built for the purposes of defending the

bent of the Scheldt river, and as a last point of retreat for times when the city

itself had already fallen. A similar role as the citadel in the southern part of the

Spaanse Omwalling (Fortengordels, a). The influence of the inundation area

is also visible in the positioning of the Brialmont belt and fort Merxem, both of

these defend the areas that cannot be inundated.

Linkeroever’s – or the Borgerweertpolder’s – position in this defence

system was still mainly through use of its inundation system, which is visible in

the three kolks (Weelen) that were made by dyke breaches. Even though, we

Figure 3.2

Drawing of the influence of the

inundation areas on the design of the

ramparts and fortification belts.

130


Figure 3.1 - previous page

Drawing of defence system of the

inner fortification belts. The map used

in this drawing is from Topotijdreis

(Topotijdreis, n.d.).

do see several forts on the polder, these were not built as a result of the city’s

role as National Redoubt. The wet moat and defensive dyke are the remnants

of a strategy of Napoleon during the French occupation of Antwerp, who

wanted to develop an entirely new city on the polder. It even seems that with

the coming of the train station in 1844 parts of the moat were already starting

to decay. (Schoofs, 2003a)

The Brialmont forts defended the none inundable parts between the canal and

the Scheldt. As mentioned before, the forts were placed 2 kilometres apart,

and at roughly 4 kilometres from the city to avoid bombing from long-range

artillery, and to have a place to position a field army. Three additional conditions

had to be met; the forts needed to follow a straight or convex line to

avoid attacks from the side; the forts needed to be autonomous because of

their solitary position; and they had to be connected by a military road that

intersected the different access roads to the city (Nagels, 2012, pp. 50-51).

The forts were planned out on site in 1859. The position of forts 1,

4, and 8 held key position in the design of the belt. Fort 1 had to be positioned

between the inundation areas of the Grote and Kleine Schijn. Fort 4

was important because it defended the railway structures leading to Antwerp.

The final fort, fort 8, needed to be placed right next to the Scheldt, to defend

against enemy ships (Nagels, 2012, p. 51). Interestingly enough, these three

forts were not the first to be built; fort 3, near the current airport, was the first

to be built. This is evident from its richer natural stone ornaments, and because

it is the only fort to be build according to the original design (Fortengordels, b).

The final

Once the Brialmont belt was completed, the notion started to rise that the

Borgerweertpolder was the weakest point in Antwerp’s defence system. It is

unclear exactly as to why this notion started to rise, this was probably due to

an increase in firing range of long-range artillery. The city therefore expanded

the Brialmont belt to the left side of the Scheldt. Two additional forts, one

lunette, and a defensive dyke were built to connect to Fort Sint-Marie, a 16th

century fort of the Scheldt’s defensive structure, that received a refurbishment.

As a final addition to the right bank, Fort Merxem was built between 1871 and

1882 to defend Deurne, and the plateau between the inundation areas on the

north side of the city. Both of these belts were made possible by the selling of

the Citadel of Antwerp (or Zuidkasteel; South Castle), which was to become a

new city district (Nagels, 2012, p. 29).

The Brialmont belt and the belt of the left bank of the Scheldt

The map on the previous spread gives a more detailed view of the three components

of Antwerp’s National Redoubt defence system: the Grote Omwalling,

131


several fortification belts, and inundation areas. It should be noted that the

version of the Grote Omwalling visible on this map is the second iteration of

the rampart, see chapter 4.1 for further information on the different iterations.

On the map we clearly see the initial influence of the option to

inundate a certain area on the level of reinforcement. As the maps shows, the

northern part of the Grote Omwalling is significantly less reinforced than its

southern counterpart. The only real defensive structure on the north side is the

Noordkasteel (North castle), a structure built for the purposes of defending the

bent of the Scheldt river, and as a last point of retreat for times when the city

itself had already fallen. A similar role as the citadel in the southern part of the

Spaanse Omwalling (Fortengordels, a). The influence of the inundation area is

also visible

132


133


I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I II I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I

I

I I I

I

I

I

The dyke also doubled as a road.

De

Borgerweertpolder

Blokkersdijk

The Langen Gaan Weg predecessor of the Tunnellaan

Melsele

Zwijndrecht

St. Anna

Beveren

I I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Ghent

I

Railway to Ghent

This road has followed the sa me tracé for ages.

The forts of the left bank were also

connected with their own 'Krijgsbaan'.

Suikerdijk

To

Burcht

Burcht

The dyke also doubled as a road.

The ferry to the train station.

St. Michielsgate

I I I I I I I I

Boomse

gate

I

I

I

I

Visual axis

Grote

(1887

IJzerenweg - zuid

gate

Kielse g

I

I

I

I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Kruibeke

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I

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I I I I I

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I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

Wilry

A few years after the construction of the supply roa

The supply road intersects

the most important access r

to the city.

I I

134

To Temse

Railway to

Brussels

I I I I I I I

I I I

Chaussee

to Brussels Chaussee

to Brussels


I

I

I I

I I

I

I

Eekerse

gate

To

Ekeren

I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Railway to Roosendaal.

Merksem

Chaussee to

Bergen op Zoom

Chaussee

to Breda

The connecting canal between the Scheldt and the Meuse.

The current Albert Canal

Schoten

Canal of Antwerp to Turnhout.

Richting

Brecht.

I I I

Bredagate

I I I I I I I I

I

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I I

I I

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I I

Schijngate

Wijnegem

Chaussee

to Turnhout

I I

I I

ate

The Onze Lieve

Vrouwekathedraal

Omwalling

-1914)

Sint Laurents

gate

Wilrijkse

gate

Berchem

Edegemse

gate

Berchemse

gate

Mechelse

gate

I I I I

I I I I I I

I

I

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I

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I

Spoorbaan

gate

I

I

I I

I

Leopold

gate

Louisa

gate

I

Borsbeekse

gate

Turnhoutse

gate

Herentalse

gate

I I I I I I I I I

I I

I I

Borgerhout

I I

I I

I I I

I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

Deurne

18 monumental, Neo-Baroque

gates were constructed to

allow entrance to the city. None

of these gates were preserved

when the ring road was constructed.

Borsbeek

Supply road

To Nijlen

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Waasdonk

I I I I I

I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

I

d, a railway and telegraph line were also added.

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

ck

the

oads

Supply road

Also called the Militaire Baan,

Route Militaire of Krijgsbaan.

I I I I I I I I I I I I

I

I

I

I

Mortsel

I I I I

I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Railway to Lier

Chaussee

to Mechelen

Railway to

Mechelen

and Brussels

Chaussee

to Lier

135


I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I II I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

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I I I

System of chaussees and railways.

The infrastructure of the inner belts

The map on the previous spread shows the relation of the inner fortification

belts to Antwerp’s infrastructure system. It shows the two military roads, the

Krijgsbanen, linking the forts on the left and right bank, respectively. The forts

4 through 8 were also accessible via train, and a telegraph line; an idea

implemented by Henri Alexis Brialmont (Nagels, 2012, p. 51). Why only these

four forts received this infrastructure is not clear. On the left bank, only the Fort

of Zwijndrecht is accessible via train.

The concentric roads connecting the different forts together intersect

with the most important access roads to the city; the chaussees. These roads

led to the Grote Omwalling where eighteen monumental Neo-Baroque gates

were constructed to allow entrance to the city (Nagels, 2012, p. 34). Access

from the Waasland, the other side of the Scheldt, was done by ferry. The

two main approaches were via the Chaussee to Ghent or the railway, both

of which held a visual axis with the cathedral. We see another road on the

Borgerweertpolder – the Langen Gaan Weg – a road that was called ‘Grote

Groene Weghe’ in the 17th century. Further specifics on this road are missing,

other than that it was supposed to give access to the northern section of the

polder in case of an inundation (Antrop, De Maeyer, & Vandermotten, 2006,

p. 19).

Figure 3.4

The system of chaussees and railways.

136


Figure 3.3 - previous page

Drawing of the system of chaussees

and railways. The map used in this

drawing is from Topotijdreis (Topotijdreis,

n.d.).

137


The forts also have an

important ecological

value, as they have

become home to lots of

different kinds of bats.

Oost-Vlaanderen

Fort St. Marie

Antwerp - province

This fort still has a

military function. Since

1961, this fort is home

to the Belgium navy.

Antwerp - municipality

Zwijndrecht

Herover de Fortengordel!

There have been many plans for the forts of Antwerp

over the years. A strategy from 2000 called 'Herover de

Fortengordel' (Recapture the Fortress Belt), tried to

create an overarching plan to increase the cohesion

between the forts and rebrand them with a certain

(functional) theme, like museum fort, or youth fort.

Another study from 2012 mapped the current state of

the entire system on a micro level. Both of these

studies or proposals did not get a follow up. The

difficulty of the situation is increase because the forts

are situated in different municipalities, all of whom own

their fort. This is probably why an overarching strategy

for the forts, and how the belt can be used in the

spatial developeent of the agglomeration is missing.

The

The Grote Omwallin

subtle way in the sh

highway. All exits an

are located on the s

lunettes.

Noordkasteel

will conclude th

green ring on

the right bank.

se t hin lines trace t h e contours

Lunette

Halve

Maan

The defensive dyke is

well preserved; the ditch

and height difference is

still noticeable.

This lunette

has several

dwellings on it.

The forts on the left bank

here are part of the

municipality of Zwijndrecht.

The old dyke structure is

still visible in the

morphology Burcht and

Zwijndrecht, and the

industrial area north of it.

The dyke will be raised by 2

This part of the Scheldt

river valley will become a

part of the green ring of

Antwerp, although in a

different role. The ring

on the right caters

solely to the city,

while the left also

has a certain

ecological role.

All the nature of Linkerover,

some more than others, is

valuable in the ecological

corridor of the Scheldt river

valley.

metres here.

T

m

ha

quay

public

the ba

1 metre

same lev

Chaussee

to Ghent

The left bank forts are largely still

intact, most of them also still have a

certain military function (mostly

training). Lunette Halve Maan has

become home to several dwellings.

This fort is

currently in

use by the

military.

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

Zwijndrecht

Antwerp - municipality

Fort

Burcht

This fort is now

home to several

sailing associations.

The Lei

The gree

ring are

the valua

structure

patches

This is going to be the green rin

This fort was cut

in half due to clay

mining by Argex.

The other half is

used by the

military.

Fort van

Cruybeke

Antwerp currently uses the

radial chaussee system as

public transport corridors

(trams) to the city. Most of

these connect to P+Rs, which

the city wants to use to relieve

the congestion on the ring.

This lunette

is now home

to a primary

school.

The train track that was

here to supply the forts

was removed sometime

during the construction

of the R1 in the 1960s.

138

Since 2004, Flanders is actively working on a

plan that is supposed to protect the villages

and cities along the Scheldt and its tributaries

from flooding. The Flamish Waterway nv

(Vlaamse Waterweg nv ) is executing this plan

by raising and stabalising the dykes along the

river, and by appointing controlled flooding

zones. Like the one next to Kruibeke.

To

Temse

Oost-Vlaanderen

Antwerp - province

This fort hosts all kinds

of activities, like

parties, seminars,

team building

activities, and other

cultural events.

One of

the best

preserved

forts.

Chaussee

to Brussels

Fort 8

The Krijgsbaan is now a spacious boulevard, and is now called the

This is the Schoonselhof

cemetery.

Fort 7

This fort is only

accessible via a

guided tour by

Natuurpunt Zuidrand.

The above ground

parts are freely

accessible, the un

ground parts are

limited.

F

This fort is pa

Drie Eiken of

University. Lo

fields, classro

housing, and (

associations a


g lives on in a very

ape of the ring

d major intersections

pots of the larger

of th e Grote Omwalling

e

Chaussee to

Ekeren

Chaussee to

Bergen op Zoom

Fort

Merxem

Fort Merxem is

home to several

associations, a

recreational

complex, and

allotment gardens.

This fort lies

in Antwerp.

Chaussee

to Breda

Here ends the Northern Park, a park that extends all the way to the Netherlands. With the Ring Project, this is going to be one of three green radials.

to Brecht

The Northern Park

This body of water is all

that is left of Noordkasteel,

the rest has become part of

the harbour. The remnants

have high historic and

ecological value. The body of

water is popular among

swimmers in the summer,

however, due to health risks

this is prohibited.

This fort lies

in Wijnegem.

Fort 1

This fort is almost entirely

gone; only recognisable in

the contours of the road.

Wijnegem Shopping Center

now occupies the area.

Chaussee

to turnhout

he quays are are being

ade future proof. The city

s stabalised and raised the

s, and turned them into

space. On the left,

nks are raised by

, putting them on the

el as the city.

important traffic artery.

The Lunette of

Herentals is still

used as a city park.

used as a city park.

en still is an

Antwerp wants to

create a more robust

connection between

city and suburb, by

making green

corridors.

This is going to be the green ring of

Antwerp

This fort lies

in Wommelgem

The Schijn River Valley

This is one of the green radials,

Antwerp wants to connect to

with the Ring Project.

n areas along the

also included in

ble ecological

s, even the

of grass.

Municipal bord

e r of Antwerp

Fort 2

This fort is home to five museums,

among others, the Brialmontmuseum,

the Provinciaal Politiemuseum, the

Muziekinstrumentenmuseum, and the

WO1 and WO2 museum.

g of Antwerp

R11. There were

der

Middelheim

ort 6

rt of Campus

Antwerp

ts of sports

oms, student

student)

re located here.

This is Middelheim,

a park known for its

many sculptures.

There is a subtle

connection here.

Fort 5

This section

of the lunette

was preserved,

it is now a park.

plans to create a second highway ring here, but this was met

This fort lies

in Edegem.

This is the

previously

mentioned

campus radial,

also called the

Struisbeek valley.

This fort is home to the

'Bolwerk'; a co-working

space where entrepreneurs,

self-employed, and

creatives can work and

meet.

Fort 5 and Hof ter Linden

together form a 90

hectares large green

area.

Fort 3 is used for

organising parties and

festivals. It is also home to

many associations and it

holds the Gemeentelijke

Kunstschool Academia.

Chaussee

to Mechelen

by heavy

This section goes under the airport.

Fort 4

resistance.

This fort lies

in Mortsel.

This fort is a park

area where you can

walk and play. You

can also take a

guided tour.

This fort lies

in Borsbeek.

Fort 3

This fort is important cultural

heritage; this was the first

built Brialmont fort. This is

evident in the building

materials used; it has more

natural stone ornamentation,

and it is the only fort using

the original design.

Chaussee

to Lier

Legend

Chaussee road

Tram system with

two stations

To Nijlen

Important ecological

areas

Flood risk area

139


province

Antwerp

-

Zwijndrecht

Zwijndrecht

province

Antwerp Antwerp's tram system and the chaussee roads.

Antwerp's tram system and the chaussee roads.

Oost-Vlaanderen

Province

Oost-Vlaanderen

Province

fort belt

fort belt

Follows Follows

Follows old

Follows

dyke

old dyke

Antwerp

municipality

Antwerp

municipality

Wijnegem

Wijnegem

Wommelgem

Wommelgem

Borsbeek

Borsbeek

All

All

municipalities

municipalities

here

here

are

are part

part of of the the province of province of

Antwerp.

Antwerp.

Edegem

Edegem

Mortsel

Mortsel

140

Provincial and municipal borders.

Provincial and municipal borders.


Figure 3.5 - previous page

Drawing of the remnants of the

defence system, the large ecological

structures and flooding areas, and

the municipal and provincial borders

of the suburban region. Google

maps was used for this map (Google,

2020).

Remnants of the inner fortification belts and the Grote

Omwalling

The map on the previous spread shows the remnants of the Redoubt system in

present-day Antwerp, including a zoom of the designated flooding areas and

valuable ecological zones from the previous chapter. In addition to this the

relationship between the historic chaussee roads and the current tram network

has been visualised on the map.

Figure 3.6 - top

Antwerp’s tram system in relation to its

historic chaussee roads.

As was already mention in the previous chapter, much of the inner fortification

belt has survived. It is only when we look to Linkeroever and the inner-city

that we notice that most of the defence structures have been demolished. For

Linkeroever only Fort Burcht remains in the Galgeweel, the rest has vanished

under a couple of metres of Scheldt sand. The historic dyke bordering Linkeroever

has been petrified in the morphology of Zwijndrecht and Burcht, and is

traceable along the edge of industrial area. This perhaps should not come as

a surprise, as this is also the municipal border of Antwerp. In the city, the ring

has taken over the place of the Grote Omwalling. Two of the lunettes have

been preserved, as well as a section of the wet moat around Noordkasteel.

The contours of the Omwalling live on in a very subtle way in the structure of

Large natural the ring; stuctures all the and major green exits corridors. and intersections are located on the locations of

the larger lunettes.

Large natural stuctures All of the and forts green are corridors. still occupied, the once on the left bank even still

hold their military function, albeit as education institutions. As mentioned in

the previous chapter, there was a plan developed to increase the cohesion

between the forts on both the left and right bank called Herover de fortengordel

(Recapture the fortification belt). It seems that the actual masterplan is no

longer available through desk research. A general introduction to the plan

tells us that the main goals were to give concrete direction to the programme

of the individual forts, and to contribute to the development of a concrete

demarcation concept for the urban region of Antwerp (Province of Antwerp &

Stramien, 2002). Judging from experiences from a third-party source, mainly

the first goal was achieved; all the forts receive either a cultural or recreational

programme, and the Krijgsbanen are treated as green corridors on both the

left and right bank to bind the belts together. Fort Merxem is connected to the

belts via a recreational bicycle route (Nagels, 2012, p. 39). It seems there is

still a need for a plan that uses a wider scope.

Figure 3.7 - bottom

The municipal and provincial borders

in the suburban region.

141


Figure 3.8

The masterplan from the study

Herover de fortengordel (Recapture

the fortification belt) with an overview

of the programme for each fort, with

the exception of fort 1 and 3 (Nagels,

2012, p. 38).

Again, the complicated jurisdictional borders might be what throws a spanner

into the works. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the municipalities in

which the forts are located are the owners of those particular forts, and they

have been since 1977 (Nagels, 2012, p. 35). A lack of an overarching vision

for the forts, means that each individual municipality is now making decisions

for their forts without considering the effect it has on the larger scale.

Another more subtle reference to, not necessarily the Redoubt, but to the 19th

century, is the relationship between the chaussee road system and the current

tram network. As de map shows, the tram network almost perfectly overlays

with the historic road system. A system that, as mentioned in previous chapters,

is now being upgraded with P+R hubs and increased public transport. There

are currently two new P+R structures planned; one near the edge of Linkeroever,

the other at the edge of Luchtbal (Municipality of Antwerp, 2020).

The map also shows the larger ecological ‘fingers’ entering the city at various

angles; the Peerdsbos radial, The Schijn river valley, and Middelheim; and

the green radials Antwerp is planning on extending inward (The Intendant for

the liveability measures in Antwerp’s ring zone, 2016a). We see here that the

green structures on Linkeroever are also part of the ecological structure that

is the Scheldt river valley, and as such will have to cater to two overarching

themes in the future; becoming part of the ring park, and maintaining (and

improving) the ecological connection and function to the river valley. Since

142


Large natural stuctures and green corridors.

Figure 3.9

The ring park in relation to the larger

ecological structures in the suburban

region, and the green radials entering

the suburbs.

2004, Flanders is also actively working on a plan – the Sigmaplan – that is

supposed to protect the villages and cities along the Scheldt and its tributaries

from flooding. The Flamish Waterwaynv (Vlaamse Waterwegnv) is executing

this plan by raising and stabilising the dykes along the river, and by appointing

controlled flooding zones. While simultaneously improving the ecological value

of the Scheldt river valley (De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, 2005). In Antwerp the

quays have already been raised and refurbished; on Linkeroever, the dykes are

going to be raised by one or two metres depending on the location. It would

seem that there is an opportunity to use the development of the ring park

and the Sigmaplan as a way to improve the ecological value of the nature on

Linkeroever, while simultaneously strengthening the relationship it has to the

larger ecological structure of the Scheldt. Thus, creating a similar link as the

green radials on the right side of the river.

Figure 3.10 - next spread

The drawing shows all the major changes

to Antwerp’s infrastructural system

after the ring project is complete, and it

shows the distance one can travel in 30

minutes with public transport. Google

maps was used for this map, and

TravelTime (Google, 2020; TravelTime,

2020).

143


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A12 to Berg

op Zoom.

To the Liefkenshoektunnel

To the

harbour.

multiple

To the

harbour

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The E34

Knokke-Heist

and Ghent's harbour

Especially here on the left

bank we see that 30-minute

accessibility only extends to

the inner-city of Antwerp,

getting anywhere else in the

city takes more time.

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The bicycle highway system,

in constrast to the PT

system, is going to

becompleted in the current

plans. A current pedestrian

trail is used to bridge the

distance between the

Blancefloerlaan and the

Charles de Costerlaan.

The Charles de Costerlaan will be

disconnected from the highway,

which raises the question which

type of road this should become,

and what the role of the Waaslandtunnel

will be.

The public transport

ring is not finished,

but instead

connects to the

tramline on the

Blancefloerlaan.

This dotted line

represents the

cycling highway

parallel to the ring.

The Waaslandtunne

Chaussee

to Ghent

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To Ghent

Legend

I I I I I I I

Highway

Tram system with

two stations

Planned tram

in Ring Park

Main bus routes

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E17 to

Ghent

I I I

The potential role for a public

transport connection, with whatever

transport mode, is not mentioned in

the city's mobility plan. This could be a

way to alleviate the pressure on the

public tranport at Linkeroever, as all

commuters have to handled by two

tram lines. On the long run, in the

polycentric development of the city, a

connection between left and right

would be crucial for the development

of the left bank.

I II

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Existing bicycle

highway

Planned bicycle

highway

Train

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Chaussee

to Brussels

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The new Scheldt

bridge will come here.

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This dash-dot line represents the route of

the tramline that is going to be installed once

the Ring Project is finished. This will increase

the accessibility of the city from the

different radials entering the city, and

increase the reach of especially the tramline

coming from the Waasland. However, it will

probably not be enough to facilitate a shift to

a polycentric city.

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The Kennedytunnel

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Sint Annatunnel

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The mo

plan me

a possi

P+R he

Industrial areas

Sports areas

Shopping centres

Cultural activities

144

Higher education

Health care

Business parks

Military

To

Temse

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to Brussels

Chaussee

to Brussels

A12 to

Brussels.


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en

To the

harbour

and Luchtbal.

To

Roosendaal

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To the

harbour

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Chaussee to

Bergen op Zoom

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Chaussee

to Breda

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This is the route of the planned

A102, the tunnel that is going to

lead the through traffic around

the city. The tunnel is also going

to include the new railway con

nectiong to the harbour. This

route was originally part of the

R2.

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E19 to

Breda.

There is also no mention

of a possible role for the

(underground part) of the

planned A102 in the

polycentric plans of the

city.

To

Breda

(railway)

to Brecht

This is a proposed route for a tramline on top

of the Krijgsbaan, part of a long-term study plan

of Antwerp. There are no concrete plans as of

yet; the mobility plan of Antwerp simply

mentions that they are going to look into it at

some point in the future as it would lower the

pressure on the public transport in the city

centre.

It is unclear whether the city want to use the

road as a way to cater to their plan to become

a more polycentric city. The city's mobility plan

(2015) for 2030 predates the new Strategic

Spatial Structure Plan of 2018. And as we have

seen in the earlier drawings, the whole

operation is quite politically charged as the

road runs through multiple municipalities. Not to

mention the strong emotional reactions to

earlier plans for an underground highway

and/or railway under the Krijgsbaan.

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Chaussee

to turnhout

l

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There were plans of a

connection with the

dropped due to protests

and capacity issues.

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The new tramline along

the ring here will greatly

increase the accessibility of

the amenities along the ring.

To Nijlen

These dots represent

the three different

variants for the second

harbour railway.

the E34 to

Eindhoven

and Maastricht.

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E19 to

Brussels.

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I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

bility

ntions

ble new

re.

To Nijlen

The mobility

plan mentions

a possible new

P+R here.

The travel time visualisations show the

clear monocentric structure of Antwerp.

The public transport system of trams and

buses, and even the system of bicycle

highways are designed to get commuters

to and from the city, getting to other parts

of the suburbs, or to other economical focal

points, takes longer then 30 minutes.

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Chaussee

to Mechelen

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Lier

I I I

Chaussee

to Mechelen

To Mechelen

and Brussels

To Lier

Chaussee

to Lier

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Public transport - Tram

146

Public transport - Tram


Highways and main Highways bus routes and main bus routes

Highways and main Highways bus routes and main bus routes

Highways and main Highways bus routes and main bus routes

Highways Bicycle highways and main Highways Bicycle bus routes highways and main bus routes

Bicycle highwaysBicycle

highways

Figure 3.10

Drawing of the different transport

modes and their infrastructure. The

bicycle network is from (Fietssnelwegen.be,

n.d.). The new tram line

from (The Intendant for the liveability

measures in Antwerp’s ring zone,

2016a). The remaining infrastructure

from (OpenStreetMap, n.d.).

147

Bicycle highwaysBicycle highways


148


Potential for polycentric development

30-minute radials

transport

Planned

concentric

public

studied.

to be

Concentric connection that is going

Public transport system of Antwerp.

Figure 3.12

Abstract representation of Antwerp’s

public transport system and planned

and potential concentric connections.

Figure 3.13 - left

These drawings show the travel distance

with public transport and bicycle

in 30 minutes. These maps were

generated by the website TravelTime,

which makes an actual rending of a

travel time map. It should be noted

that these maps might not show a

representative image of the distance

travelled in 30 minutes, as the maps

were made during the Covid-19

pandemic, on the 8th of June 2020.

Meaning that the timetable of the public

transport might have varied from

that of an average day. It is however,

unlikely that this would have resulted

in substantial changes to the overall

shape of the map.

Legend

30 minute bicycle reach

30 minute public transport

reach

Departure point

(P+R structure)

Antwerp’s infrastructure in relation to travel time

The map on the previous spread shows all the major changes to Antwerp’s

infrastructural system after the ring project is complete. It shows the new public

transport line in the ring zone that spans the length of Luchtbal to Linkeroever,

not going fully round. We also see the improved bicycle highway network, that

covers all the important radials, and does go fully round the inner-city. And it

shows us the route of the Oosterweel-link and the A102.

The dashed rectangles give an abstract indication of the where 30 minutes of

travel time via public transport will get you taken from all the P+R structures

in Antwerp. The abstraction was made based on the travel time maps on

the page to the left, which also show the distance covered in 30 minutes by

bicycle. In terms of public transport, we can clearly see the radial monocentric

structure of Antwerp’s mobility system. The system is designed to get commuters

to and from the inner-city, getting to other parts of the suburbs – to other

economic focal points – is much more time consuming. This is especially true

for the commuters coming from the Waasland, as there is currently only one

public transport line crossing the Scheldt.

The public transport planned along the ring – the tram and bus lines – and the

149


added bicycle ring around the inner-city will most definitely increase the reachability

of Linkeroever and the areas of the suburbs closest to the city. However,

to truly stimulate a modal shift, a polycentric development of the suburban

region, and lower the pressure on the public transport system of the city centre,

a concentric connection some distance into the suburbs is probably needed.

Antwerp’s mobility plan discusses the possibility of developing a tram

line on the Krijgsbaan (Municipality of Antwerp, 2015). It is part of a long-term

study plan, meaning that nothing is certain as of yet. The municipality is going

to look into it at some point in the future, as it would lower the pressure on the

public transport system in the city centre. It is unclear whether the city want to

use the road as a way to cater to their plan to become a more polycentric city.

The city’s mobility plan (2015) for 2030 predates the new Strategic Spatial

Structure Plan of 2018. And as we have seen in the earlier drawings, the

whole operation is quite politically charged as the road runs through multiple

municipalities. Not to mention the strong emotional reactions to earlier plans

for an underground highway and/or railway under the Krijgsbaan. While a

connection along the Krijgsbaan would be beneficial to the southern part of

the suburban region, the northern part of the region – Merksem – would still

not be accessible. The mobility plan also does not mention a potential role for

the Krijgsbaan on the left bank, neither does it mention a role for the Oosterweel-link

in the public transport system. This could be a way to alleviate the

pressure on the public transport at Linkeroever, as all commuters have to be

handled by two tram lines (once the ring is finished). On the long run, in the

polycentric development of the city, a stronger connection between left and

right might be crucial for the development of the left bank.

There has been one plan that researched the possibility of a concentric public

transport connection in the suburban region. Between 2012 and 2014, a

research collective called Labo XX analysed the part of the suburbs within

the municipal border of Antwerp, and subsequently developed a plan that

proposed a concentric tram line that intersected all of the radials leading to

the city, and appointed these locations as placed to densify. The main goal

was to make the suburban region less dependent on the city centre, and create

a better connection between the different suburbs. The main incentive was an

increase of 100.000 inhabitants by 2030. Figure 3.14 shows this master plan.

The proposed concentric connection expands on the already present connection

between Deurne and Borgerhout, going north to Merksem, and south via

Berchem, to the University of Antwerp, and then connecting to the part of the

Krijgsbaan going to fort 8. The strategy subsequently zooms in to show mass

models of the proposed densification hubs on the intersections of the radials

(Labo XX, 2014a). It is unclear whether the plan is receiving a follow-up. The

150


Figure 3.14

A plan developed by Labo XX between

2012 and 2014. The strategy proposed

concentric public transport line

that intersected all the radials of the

city, and designated these locations

for densification. Its main goal was to

make the suburbs more autonomous

and better interconnected. The dots on

this map show transport hub, not all of

these are densification locations (Labo

XX, 2014b).

municipalities website mentions that they have started partnership between

several other European cities in 2015 to “reinvent the fringe”. There is however,

no further mentioning of what the status of that is (Municipality of Antwerp,

n.d.).

What is striking about the proposal is that the role of Linkeroever, like

in the plan for the ring, is almost left out, while it is in fact part of the suburban

region. Another thing that stands out is the absence of role for the P+R

system of Antwerp. Only the P+Rs of Luchtbal to the north and Linkeroever

are visualised, and therefore only seems to cater to the transport needs of the

inhabitants of the suburbs themselves.

151


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E

A12 to Berg

op Zoom.

Antwerp's Harbour

Antwerp has the second largest seaport of

Europe, right after Rotterdam. In 2014, the

harbour handle a total transhipment of 199

million tons. Antwerp is the largest port for

general or break bulk cargo in Europe.

To the Liefkenshoektunnel

To the

harbour.

To the

harbour

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Fort

St. Marie

The E34

Knokke-Heist

and Ghent's harbour

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Lunette

Halve

Maan

Industrial corridor

at

here opening The an is there tunneled, Oosterweel completely tunnel not is will road start The here.

disconnected.

be will The Costerlaan Charles de

Recreational corridor

The Waaslandtunne

I I

I I I

Chaussee

to Ghent

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

To Ghent

I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

The Krijgsbaan on the left bank is

more rural than its right bank

counterpart. A car and bicycle road

extends from the P+R to the fort of

Cruybeke, connecting two large

industrial areas along the highway

and Scheldt. North from the P+R the

dimensions of the road are

deminished, and at some point

continues as a hiking trail up to the

highway.

I I

I I

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I I

I

I

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

I

I

I

I I

Industrial corridor

I I

I I

I I I

I I

Theres a railway tu nel here.

I I

I I I

I I

I I I I I

The new Scheldt

bridge will come here.

I I I I I I

The Kennedytunnel

I I I I

I I

I I I

I

I

Sint Annatunnel

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Fort van

Cruybeke

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Industrial

corridor

E17 to

Ghent

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Bus accessibility

For

I I

Fort 7

Fort 8

152

To

Temse

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I

to Brussels

Chaussee

to Brussels

A12 to

Brussels.


I I

I

I

I

I

I I

I I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

en

Noordkasteel.

Industrial corridor

To the

harbour

and Luchtbal.

To

Roosendaal

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

I

I I I I I I I

I

I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I

I

To the

harbour

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Shopping corridor

Chaussee to

Bergen op Zoom

I

I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Breda

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Fort

Merxem

I I I I I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I I I

This is the route of the planned

A102, the tunnel that is going to

lead the through traffic around

the city. The tunnel is also going

to include the new railway con

nectiong to the harbour. This

route was originally part of the

R2.

I I I I I I I

E19 to

Breda.

Will the A102 increase

the accessibility of the

industry here?

To

Breda

(railway)

to Brecht

Legend

Highway

Tram system with

two stations

Planned tram

in Ring Park

Main bus routes

Industrial areas

Shopping centres

Higher education

I II

I I

Existing bicycle

highway

Planned bicycle

highway

Train

Sports areas

Cultural activities

Business parks

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Industrial corridor

Health care

Military

I I I I I I I I I I I

Chaussee

to turnhout

l

I I I I I I I

Fort 1

There were plans of a

connection with the

dropped due to protests

and capacity issues.

I I I

I I I

Recreational corridor

I I I I I

I I

I I I

I I I I

I I I I I

I I I

I I I I

I

I I I I I

I

I

I I I

I

I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I I I I I

I I

I

I

I

I

I I

I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

This will be the

route of the ring

tram line that will

be installed after

the Ring Project.

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Shopping

corridor

This is Antwerpen International Airport, used for charter and business flights

Bus accessibility

Fort 2

These dots represent

the three different

variants for the second

harbour railway.

the E34 to

Eindhoven

and Maastricht.

To Nijlen

alt h corridor

t 6 Fort 5

ducation and he

The Krijgsbaan is now a

spacious boulevard, and

is called the R11. There

were plans to create a

second highway ring here,

but this was met with

heavy resistance.

E19 to

Brussels.

I

I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Mechelen

Airport

I

I

I I

I

Fort 4

I

I I I

I I I I

I I

I

I I I I I I I I I I

I

I

I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

To Mechelen

and Brussels

I

Fort 3

This section goes

under the airport. This

allowed the airport to

meet certain EU

requirements.

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

The R11 (Krijgsbaan) and the A102

tunnel intersect some of the larger

amenities corridors of Antwerp; two

large industrial areas along the canal

and river, two large recreational and

nature radials, two shopping areas, and

the university and health care radial,

and of course, Antwerp International

Airport. Dispite of this however, there

is no major public transport corridor on

the R11. Two sectioned area covered

by a regulare bus; between the airport

and the Schijn valley, and fort 8 and 7.

To Lier

Chaussee

to Lier

153


Industry

Car and train

Shops

Long term connection.

Industry

Industry

Industry

Car and bicycle connection

Sports

Car, bicycle and

public transport co n nection.

Shops

Airport

through

Industry

Potential link.

traffic.

Sports

health, and ecology.

Mostly car and

Potential concentric link to

Education & He alth

bicycle access.

industry, recreation, education,

Amenities corridors and potential concentric links

Major economic amenities in the suburban region

The map on the previous spread shows the larger economic zones in the

suburban region of Antwerp in relation to the infrastructural network. Like every

other structure in Antwerp, these economic zones also adhere to a radial pattern.

All of these zones extend from the ring area to the edge of the suburban

zone, or even beyond it.

There are a few large-scale industrial zones throughout the suburban

belt (as we have also seen in the previous chapter), mainly among the large

water structures – the canal and the Scheldt – on the left and right bank. Two

of the economic radials coincide with the green finger entering the city, the

Schijn river valley and Middelheim, with major recreational and educational/

health care facilities respectively. There are several larger shopping centres

in the suburban region; Merxem and Borgerhout. Linkeroever, with its nature,

sailing activities, and its annual festivals, is another recreational corridor in

Antwerp.

Figure 3.16

Abstraction of the economic hubs, and

potential concentric links.

As the map shows, the Krijgsbaan (or R11) and the upcoming A102 intersect

all of these economic corridors, in addition to Antwerp’s international airport.

However, as we have seen in the subchapter about travel time, no major public

transport connections are on (or are planned on) either of these concentric

154


Figure 3.15 - previous spread

The larger economic zones in the

suburban region of Antwerp in relation

to the infrastructural network

(Google, 2020).

roads. Meaning that much of the transport to and from these corridors goes

through the city centre, or via car. The same goes for the Krijgsbaan on the left

bank of the Scheldt; there is no public transport between the current P+R and

the major industrial hubs there.

The intersection of the Krijgsbanen with all these different economic

hubs, not to mention the airport and the various cultural and business activities

in the forts, could make a good argument as to why these roads should

become the dominant concentric connections in the suburban region.

155


I

I I I

I I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I I

A12 to Berg

op Zoom.

To the Liefkenshoektunnel

To the

harbour.

Fort

St. Marie

Municipal border of Antwerp

People with higher income tend to

live outside of the city or suburban region.

To the

harbour

I

I

I

I

I

I

I I I I I I I

I I I I I

Will this remain part of the harbour

once the Oosterweel is finished?

The ring pa

defined by

morphology

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

I

I

I I

The E34

Knokke-Heist

and Ghent's harbour

Chaussee

to Ghent

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Beveren

To Ghent

I I I I I I I

E17 to

Ghent

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Including the north part of

the Krijgsbaan here, can be

the final piece in the

urbanisation of the

Brialmont belt. On the

long-term it can form the

edge of the suburban

region; short-term it can

create a connection to the

industrial area and harbour.

Melsele

I

I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

The Krijgsbaan on the

left bank can become a

structuring element in

the urban fabric of the

suburban region in the

long-term.

People with higher income tend to

live outside of the city or suburban region.

I I I

I I

I I

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I

I I

I I I I I I

I I I

Lunette

Halve

Maan

I

I

Fort van

Zwijndrecht

I

I

I

I I

The section to the south of

the P+R can be the first

phase of the urbanisation

here, as developement in

terms of density and

amenities is further along

here.

Kruibeke

Fort van

Cruybeke

Zwijndrecht's and Burcht's

density is comparable to that

of the villages surrounding the

suburban region.

The city is

thinking about

redeveloping

these industrial

areas after the

rin Ring project.

Zwijndrecht

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I

Burcht

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Fort 8

I I

I I

Hoboken

I I I

I I

I I

I I I

I I

I I

I I I I I

I I I I I I

I I I I

Fort 7

I I

Nieuw Zuid is

being built here.

I I I

I

I

Kiel

W

For

156

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

These two sectors hold the highest

number of social rent dwellings in all

of Antwerp, around 3300 units. All of

these dwellings are contained with

the high-rise slabs, most of which

are two room apartments.

A high concentration

of social housing in

this section of the

suburban region.

There is a

large contrast

between rich

and poor here

in Linkeroever.

The new Scheldt

bridge will come here.

The ring park is not

defined by

morphology here.

The Kennedytunnel

High concentration of

social rent dwellings

in the high-rise here

as well.

The Waaslandtunne

Sint Annatunnel

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

T

t

W

a

d

l

r

A

There is room

the higher seg

To

Temse

I I

to Brussels

Chaussee

to Brussels

A12 to

Brussels.


I I

I

I

I

I

I I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

en

Ekeren

To

Roosendaal

I

I

I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I

I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I

I

To the

harbour

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Chaussee to

Bergen op Zoom

I

I I I I I I I I I I

Ekeren

I I I I I I

Chaussee

to Breda

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Fort

Merxem

I I I I I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

E19 to

Breda.

To

Breda

(railway)

to Brecht

To the

harbour

and Luchtbal.

Luchtbal has

the second

highest amount

of social

dwellings,

spread out

over its entire

length.

Luchtbal

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I

Merksem

The Krijgsbaan could

function as a defining

edge for the suburbs

of Merksem and

Deurne.

The low-density regions in the forest here contain a lot of high income inhabitants.

Schoten

People with higher

income tend to live

outside of the city or

suburban region.

rk is not

here.

I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

This area along the canal is also very

valuable. The data stops at the municipal

border, but probably extends all the way

to the bridge to the east.

Chaussee

to turnhout

l

he area defined by

he Leien and the

aaslandtunnel on

verage holds

wellings with the

east amount of

ooms in

ntwerp.

I I I I I

I I I

I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I I

I I I I I

I I I I I I I

There

are some

sections in the

city that have

social housing.

The entire city is

rather dense,

however, this broad

section around the

park, till the ring is

the densest.

I

I

I

I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I

I I

I I

I I

I I I

I I I

Borgerhout

Deurne

This hatch represents

the densification

planned along the ring

road.

Fort 2

Wijnegem

All the suburbs, except for the more

expensive strip going south from

Fort 1

Middelheim, have a rather high

density. Deurne and Morkhoven

have the highest density on

average. This can probably be

explained by the accessibility

created by the tram line that loops

between the city and these two

suburbs.

The density is highest near the ring,

and diminishes further to the

periphery.

the E34 to

Eindhoven

and Maastricht.

These dots represent

the three different

variants for the second

harbour railway.

Wommelgem

Borsbeek

I I I

I I I I

I

I I I I I

I

I

I I I

I

I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I

Berchem

I

I I

I I

Groenenhoek

Fort 3

The radial development that is

so characteristic for Belgium is

clearly visible in the morphology

of Antwerp's suburbs.

ilrijk

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I

I

I

I

I I I

Eisdonk

t 6 Fort 5

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

The Krijgsbaan

could be a

catalyst for the

urbanisation of

Borsbeek.

To Nijlen

I

I

Middelheim

This area has the

highest average of

number of rooms

per dwelling.

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

I I

I

Low density

housing along

this section of

the Krijgsbaan

for densification here in

ment of the market.

Edegem

This area has the highest

property value in Antwerp.

There is a difference

however, between inner-city

and suburb in terms of density.

Higher density can be found in

the city, and lower in the

suburbs. Especially the area

around Middelheim has a low

density.

E19 to

Brussels.

Chaussee

to Mechelen

I

I

I I

I

Fort 4

I

I I I

I I I I I I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

To Mechelen

and Brussels

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Mortsel

People with higher income tend to

live outside of the city or suburban region.

To Lier

Chaussee

to Lier

Legend

Social housing

High property value

high income

High density

Few or many

rooms per dwelling

Morphology

157


Population density - agglomeration 2019 Average number of rooms - Antwerp 2019

250 < 3.500

3500 < 7.000

7.000 < 10.500

10.500 < 14.000

> 14.000

< 3

3

4

5

> 6

Average income per inhabitant - agglomeration 2017

Property value - Antwerp 2014

< 15.000

15.000 < 20.000

20.000 < 25.000

25.000 < 30.000

> 30.000

< 125.000

125.000 < 175.000

175.000 < 225.000

225.000 < 275.000

> 275.000

Amount of social rent dwellings - agglomeration 2019

Average rent private sector - Antwerp 2019

1 < 200

200 < 400

400 < 600

600 < 800

> 800

< 600

600 < 700

700 < 800

800 < 900

> 900

158


High density

social housing

High

density

Defining edge

Industrail connection

long-term urban edge

Density resembles

villages around

suburban region.

Catalyst for

urbanisation

High density

social housing

Low income

medium density

Expensive

high density

Expensive

low density

High

density

Low

income

High

density

High

density

Catalyst for urbanisation

Densification higher segment

Potential role of the Krijgsbaan in the suburban region.

Figure 3.17 - previous spread

Antwerp’s property value, density, income

distribution, dwelling size, social

housing, and average private rent in

relation to its morphological structure.

(Google, 2020).

Figure 3.18

Abstraction of figure 3.17 with potential

role for Krijgsbaan in the suburban

region.

Density, property value, and income in Antwerp’s

metropolitan region

The map on the previous spread shows Antwerp’s property value, density,

income distribution, dwelling size, social housing, and average private rent

in relation to its morphological structure. In addition to this, the cross hatch

shows the planned densification along the ring zone. The larger map presents

a summary of the smaller maps to the left of this page.

Regarding social housing we see large concentrations in Luchtbal, to the

south of the spaghetti junction, and in Linkeroever. Linkeroever has the largest

concentration of social housing, with a total of around 3300 dwellings. These

large concentrations also reflect in the city’s dwelling density; most of these

areas have a density of around 9000 people per km2.

Figure 3.19 - left

The maps to the left were used to

create the drawing of the previous

spread, and show the various

socio-economic components in more

detail (Provinces of Flanders, n.d.)

(Municipality of Antwerp, n.d.).

Looking at income and property value we see that the high incomes (above

30.000) mainly situate themselves in the belt beyond the suburbs. In the linear

development belt or the forest dwellings in the Northern Park. The income in

the city and suburbs is more or less the same, on average between <15.000

till 20.000. One area in the suburban region holds some of the more valuable

property – the area around Middelheim continuing down to the fort and

159


beyond. Both of these areas have low density and poor(er) access to public

transport in common in relation to other areas in the suburban belt. A probable

reason for the concentration of higher property values along the strip going

south from Middelheim is the combination of green, and the university and

hospital, two amenities that attract high income inhabitants. The whole area

is roughly defined by the green radial entering the city here and the railway

running along the east side;

For the remainder of the suburbs we see a lower density in the south

western region of the suburban belt, near Fort 7. This could be explained by

the lack of a main public transport line; the tram does not go here. The suburbs

to the north and south of the Schijn river valley, Deurne and Borgerhout,

show a relative high density. These areas have a good connection to the tram

system and main bus lines. And, like Middelheim also lie in close proximity to

one of the larger green structure in Antwerp. However, in contrast to Middelheim

these areas do not have a high property value. Further densely populated

areas are the zones closest to the city, in the ring zone. An area that the city

has appoint as a densification zone, once the ring project has freed up some

space here.

In the city itself we see that it is rather densely populated, however, a very

broad strip at the periphery going around the city park is especially dense.

The south-western section of this strip is populated with high incomes, the

north-eastern section with low incomes. In fact, the lowest incomes in the inner

city. As mentioned in previous chapters, there is a trend of small dwelling sizes

in the inner-city of Antwerp. This is specifically the case fort the area defined

by the Leien and the Waaslandtunnel on average holds dwellings with the least

amount of rooms in Antwerp.

On the left bank, we see that Linkeroever contains quite a bit of contrast. There

is a high density, low income section, right next to area with very low density,

high income dwellings. Further into the Waasland we find that Zwijndrecht

and Burcht have a lower average density than the suburbs. This should come

to no surprise as these villages are not suburbs of Antwerp. However, they

are within the same distance of the city, but much more difficult to reach with

(public) transport. Looking at the densification plans here, we see that Antwerp

is planning to redevelop some sections of industry next to the highway between

Zwijndrecht and Burcht. It should further be noted that Antwerp does not seem

to connect the left and right bank through morphology; the defined edge that

is going to run along the built area on the right side of the river is not continued

on the left side. This is to some degree understandable in the northern

160


section, since this area is mostly industry. However, the southern section, with

the new bridge, could have been better connected.

Looking at the position of the Krijgsbanen on both the left and right side of

the Scheldt, we can distinguish five sections. Going around Antwerp starting

from the northeast, we find a section that does not actually go through existing

morphology, as is goes in between Deurne and Merksem on one side, and

Schoten on the other, and through a protected castle domain. Developing this

section could bring a defined edge to Deurne and Merksem, however it could

also reevaluate the role of Schoten in the city region of Antwerp. Judging by

how Antwerp want to get a grip on the growth of the periphery, this should

probably be avoided. Further down, the sections to the southeast and south,

show potential for densification. Through the low-density part of Borsbeek and

the low density, but priced area of the radial of Middelheim.

Continuing to the other side of the river, we can distinguish the fourth

section going from Fort van Cruybeke to the P+R at the border of Zwijndrecht.

Since its proximity to both dwellings and economic activity, and its potential

role as a concentric link to the suburban region on the other side of the river,

this section could be used as the first phase of the urbanisation of the left

bank. Further to the north to the last section, we see a section that is much

more rural that its counterparts. Connections from the P+R at Zwijndrecht

to Fort Sint-Marie and the industrial area there are rudimentary at best, and

non-existent past the highway. On the long term, this link could very well be

used as an edge for the suburban region of Antwerp on the left bank, but for

the short-term a simple connection with public transport and a bicycle path to

give access to the fort and industry would suit the area better.

161


3.2

A Polycentric Strategy

for the Suburban Region

On the potential role of the inner fortification belts in

Antwerp's upcoming polycentric city

This chapter set out to analyse the composition of the inner fortification belts

and trace the remnants of these structures to present-day Antwerp in relation to

function, ecology, accessibility, economy, and morphology. It did so to answer

the following two sub-questions:

1. What was the composition of the inner fortification belts in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

2. How do the remnants of this composition relate to the major ecological,

morphological, infrastructural, and economical structures in Antwerp’s

suburban region?

The following pages will present the main findings of the analysis as an answer

to these sub-questions, and subsequently try to design a strategy that attempts

to translate these findings into a polycentric strategy for Antwerp’s suburban

region. A strategy that allows the suburbs to gain a higher level of autonomy,

while keeping a relationship with the city centre. While building the strategy,

this chapter will lean on the positioning of the inner fortification belt as a pearl

necklace of the previous chapter that links the various economic, cultural,

recreational and ecological zones in the suburban area together.

The inner fortification belts

The option to inundate an area had large influence on the design of the fortification

system. The northern parts of the Grote Omwalling and inner fortification

belts are significantly less fortified. The former is reduced to a simple

rampart, although with a castle as its closing piece – Noordkasteel (North

castle) – to retreat to should the city be overrun; the latter was not even present

on the parts that could be inundated. Linkeroever, although equipped with a

fortified wet moat, its main defence strategy was still the inundation system.

The fortifications belts were placed roughly 4 kilometres from the city,

and 2 kilometres apart. They also followed a curved line to avoid attacks from

the side, and were connected to each other, and the main access roads to the

city, via a concentric road: the Krijgsbaan.

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As was already mentioned in the previous chapter, much of the inner fortification

belt has survived. Of the inner belts, only Fort 1 was demolished and

replaced by a shopping centre. All other forts are still present and occupied.

The once on the left bank hold a military educational function, while the ones

on the right hold various recreational, cultural, or business functions. There

was a masterplan made for the forts in 2002, one that focused primarily on

the forts in a cultural and ecological sense. This masterplan has, as it seems,

not been executed. It seems there is still a need for a plan that considers the

belts as economic carriers and as entities that could define the suburban

region. The complicated jurisdictional borders might be what throws a spanner

into the works.

For Linkeroever only Fort Burcht remains in the Galgeweel. The historic dyke

– and municipal border – bordering Linkeroever has been petrified in the

morphology of Zwijndrecht and Burcht, and is traceable along the edge of industrial

area. In the city only two of the lunettes of the southern ramparts, and

a section of the wet moat around Noordkasteel were preserved.

In a subtler way the Omwalling lives on in the structure of the ring; all

the major exits and intersections are located on the locations of the larger lunettes.

Another subtle reference to the 19th century is the current tram network;

it almost perfectly overlays with the historic chaussee road system. A system

now being upgraded with adding P+R hubs.

Ecology

Regarding ecology we see that the green structures on Linkeroever are also

part of the ecological structure that is the Scheldt river valley, and as such will

have to cater to two overarching themes in the future; becoming part of the

ring park, and maintaining (and improving) the ecological connection and

function to the river valley. Since 2004, Flanders is working on the Sigmaplan;

a plan that is improving the Scheldt’s environment from flooding. As a result,

the quays on the right and the dykes on the left are going to be raised by one

or two metres.

Accessibility

Travel time maps have shown the radial monocentric structure of Antwerp’s

public transport system. The system is designed to get commuters to and from

the inner-city, getting to other parts of the suburbs is much more time consuming.

This is especially true for the commuters coming from the Waasland, as

there is currently only one public transport line crossing the Scheldt. There is no

mentioning of a public transport connection through the Oosterweel-link, while

there is one planned on the to-be-build Scheldt bridge. A concentric connection

is needed to stimulate the modal shift and polycentric development.

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Antwerp’s mobility plan discusses the possibility of developing a tram line on

the Krijgsbaan as a long-term study plan, however, no concrete plans have

been made. There is no mentioning of a role for the Krijgsbaan on the left

bank, nor a concentric connection to the northern suburbs.

A strategy was developed for a concentric connection in the suburban region

on the right bank by Labo XX in 2014, that extended the concentric tram line in

the suburban. This plan seems to no longer be in consideration. There were a

few things that were left out of this plan, like a role for Linkeroever, or the link

to the P+R structures and thus the approach of the city by car.

Economy

Antwerp has several economic hubs in the suburban region, spanning from

shopping, industry, recreation, to education and health care. Like every other

structure in Antwerp, these economic zones also adhere to a radial pattern.

All of these zones extend from the ring area to the edge of the suburban zone,

or even beyond it. Linkeroever with its nature, sailing activities, and its annual

festivals, seems to fit in the recreational category.

The intersection of the Krijgsbanen on both the left and right bank

with all these different economic hubs, the airport and the various cultural and

business activities in the forts, could make a good argument as to why these

roads should become the dominant concentric connections in the suburban

region.

Morphology

Dwelling density is generally high in the city centre, and in the area around the

ring zone, radiating outward to Merksem, Deurne, and Borgerhout to the north

and east. The latter two could be higher in density due to the good connection

to the tram system and main bus lines. There is a low density but high-income

zone going south, through Middelheim and the university and hospital area,

an area also harder to reach with public transport. There is a medium density

low income zone to the southwest, next to the Scheldt, which could be due to

an absence of a public transport line.

Linkeroever holds the highest percentage of social housing in Antwerp

in very high density, with Luchtbal to the north in second place. However,

Linkeroever also holds very high incomes, in low density areas. Further into the

Waasland we find that Zwijndrecht and Burcht have a lower average density

than the suburbs. While these villages are not part of the suburbs of Antwerp,

they are within the same distance from the city. Looking at the densification, it

should be noted that Antwerp does not seem to connect the left and right bank

through morphology; the defined edge that is going to run along the built area

on the right side of the river is not continued on the left side.

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We can distinguish five sections for developing the Krijgsbaan in relation to the

suburban region on the left and right. Starting from the northeast, we find a

section that could shape a defining edge along Merksem and Deurne. Caution

should be taken here not to include Schoten too directly in this development,

as Antwerp want to get a grip on the growth of the periphery. Further south

we have two sections that could be a catalyst for urbanisation. On the left

bank, the section from the fort to the P+R, with its proximity to dwellings

and economic activity, and its potential role as a concentric link to the right

bank, could make it the first phase in the urbanisation of the left bank. The

last section is much more rural than its other counterparts, it could become a

long-term edge of the suburban region, for the short-term a simple connection

with public transport and a bicycle path to give access to the fort and industry

would suit the area better.

Figure 3.20 - following spread

Drawing that shows all the components

of the polycentric strategy for the

suburban region.

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This bus line and bicycle

highway go through the

harbour, establishing a link

between the Brialmont belt

and closing the fortification

spiral for recreational

purposes.

A bus line and the

bicycle highway will

extend till Fort Sint

Marie.

The Ring Park

The Ring Park will make a connection to the

water element of the Grote omwalling on both the

left and right side of the Scheldt. On the right, the

wet moat around the ramparts will be reflected in

the park; on the left, the larger inundation area

will link back to the Borgerweertpolder. Creating

this historical link can help solve contemporary

problems relating to climate adaptation - using

the Ring Park for the city’s water system - and

restore a link to the historic fortification spiral.

The Krijg

here and

structure

Luchtba

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The development of the

Krijgsbaan and the water

element present in the

Ring Park restores the

fortification spiral found

on the regional scale.

The forts and lunettes

along the Krijgsbaan

will become cultural,

ecological, and

recreative hubs along

the Krijgsbaan.

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Industrial

centre

This could also be

one of the final

stages of the Ring

Park developments.

Agricultural radial

The inundation area here

will also maintain and

improve Linkeroever’s

role in the ecological

radial that is the Scheldt

River Valley.

Recreational

centre

This area in the harbour can be developed as

the final stage of the Ring Project. This will

define the Ring Park al around the city.

The tram line of

the left bank will

extend till the P+R

at the border of

Zwijndrecht.

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Densification of Zwijndrecht and

Burcht will initially take place at

the sections bordering the Ring

Park and the Krijgsbaan.

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Shopping

centre.

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new tunnel.

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The design of the

Krijgsbaan on this side of

the river will be less

monumental in cross section

and architecture than its

(sub)urban counterpart;

more fitting to the rural

character of the left bank.

Industrial

centre

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The Brialmont Belt as the

defining structure of Antwerp's

suburban region on the left and

right side of the Scheldt.

Creating a stronger link with

heritage, culture, recreation,

ecology, and economy.

Legend

I II

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Highway

Existing tram system

with two stations

Existing bicycle

highway

Existing main

bus routes

Train

New tram line

New bicycle

highway

New main

bus routes

industrial

corridors

A new ferry line is added

here to connect the

Krijgsbaan of the right

bank to the one on the

left bank. Once

urbanisation of the

suburbs on the left had

started a more permanent

connection can be

researched.

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Industrial

centre

Industrial areas

Business parks

Shopping centres

River valley

Forest or

Higher education

agricultural area

166 This is the end

Recreational area

Densification area

of a green

chamber meant

to limit growth

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sbaan will end

the P+R

in northern

l.

Industrial

centre,

catering to

the harbour.

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This area next to the

fort could be

developed as a result

of the Krijgsbaan.

Large scale

shopping

centre.

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Industrial centre

and end point of

the canal industrial

radial.

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The larger dots, like

the one here, indicate

access to a P+R

structure.

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Here the bicycle highway

and tram line will be

separated to go around a

protected heritage site. The tram

line will go through the urban area of

Deurne and Merksem; the bicycle

highway will connect Schoten to the

Krijgsbaan. Extending the tram line

through Deurne and Merksem will

also prevent the urbanisation of

Schoten.

This is the Peerbos radial going

to the Northern forest parks.

Industrial

area, and end

point of the canal

industrial radial.

The radial here will limit

the growth of the low

density development

here.

The linear shape of the

economic carriers will be fixed

by adding multimodal hubs at

both ends - at the Ring Park

and the Krijgsbaan - allowing

the economic radial to mediate

between the two.

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These dots

represent

mulitmodal hubs.

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The Leien will be connected

to the Charles de Costerlaan

and the Halewijnlaan to

establish a better link

between the two parts of

the city, and efectively

create a final ring around

the (historic) centres.

The Schijn River Valley

e economic centres of the

urban region connect to the

jgsbaan as well as the ring area.

is will maintain a certain serving

ction towards the inner-city.

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Recreational centre

with shopping, sports, and

culture.

The Krijgsbaan wil

become a lush

boulevard lined

with trees.

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The cultural activities

in the forts will play

an active part in the

development of this

area.

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The second railway

connection to the

port will run next to

the highway here.

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The polycentric

development of the

suburban region will be

carried by the major

economic activity already

present there.

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Business centre

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Due to the relative

low-density of

Borskbeek, a larger

area can be

densified here.

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University &

Health care centre

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The Krijgsbaan will become a

concentric connection through the

different radials of the suburban

region. A tram line and bicycle

highway will runs on its entire

length on the right side of the river,

thereby stimulating the

development of multimodal hubs.

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This is a green

radial going to

Middelheim.

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The improved mobility and

the multimodal hubs are used

as a means to stimulate

densification along the

Krijgsbaan, catering to those

that cannot find a dwelling in

the inner-city.

This is the new agricultural

radial going to the airport. This

radial will limit the growth of

the linear villages.

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Public transport - train and ferry

Public transport - train and ferry

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Public transport - train and ferry

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Public Public transport transport - train - and Tram ferry

Public transport - Tram

Figure 3.21

Drawing of the different transport

modes and their infrastructure, with the

new infrastructure in bold black. The

bicycle network is from (Fietssnelwegen.be,

n.d.). The new tram line

from (The Intendant for the liveability

measures in Antwerp’s ring zone,

2016a). The remaining infrastructure

from (OpenStreetMap, n.d.).

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Public transport - Tram


Highways and main bus routes

Highways and main bus routes

Highways and main bus routes

Highways Bicycle and highways main bus routes

Bicycle highways

169

Bicycle highways


Green rings as The the drawing defining on element the previous of the spreads city regions shows and a cumulation link to the of fortification all the components

spiral. Figure 3.22

of the spatial strategy that tries to give concrete direction to Antwerp’s

The two green rings around the suburban

and metropolitan region, and the

polycentric development. A strategy that could allow the suburbs to gain a

link to the fortification spiral.

higher level of autonomy, while maintaining a relationship to the city centre.

Green belts as defining elements of the suburban region and inner-city

In the previous chapter the inner fortification belt was established as a green

pearl necklace, an important public transport and cycling boulevard that

links the various economic, cultural, recreational, and ecological zones in the

suburban region together. Thereby positioning the set of the rampart, the traffic

artery, and the park as the defining edge of Antwerp’s city region.

The strategy of this chapter will establish the Krijgsbanen on both

the left and the right side of the Scheldt as hosts to a concentric tram line

and bicycle highway. On the right bank the tram will start at the P+R structure

at Luchtbal near the harbour to the north, connecting to the tram radial

going to the city centre. It will continue to the east, going through Merksem

and Deurne. Here the bicycle highway and tram line will be separated to

go around a protected heritage site; a castle domain. The tram line will go

through the urban area of Deurne and Merksem; the bicycle highway will connect

Schoten to the Krijgsbaan. Allowing the tram line to go through Merksem

170


and Deurne could prevent the urbanisation of Schoten. Thereby catering to

Antwerp’s wish to get a hold on the growth of the periphery. The tram line and

bicycle highway will be joined after the industrial area at the Albert Canal,

where it will continue on the track of the Krijgsbaan. Near the Scheldt both of

these will loop back to the city centre, to the junction of the Kennedytunnel and

the new Scheldt bridge. Half way to the city, the tram line and bicycle highway

will branch off to the connection to the left bank. On the short term this

can be a ferry connection, on the long term, once the left bank has started to

urbanise, a more permanent connection might be appropriate, like a bridge or

tunnel.

On the left bank the tram line will continue till the P+R structure

at the edge of Zwijndrecht. A subsequent bus line will pick up the trajectory

further to the north, to the industrial area at fort Sint-Marie and the harbour

beyond. This will reflect the more rural character of the Krijgsbaan on this side.

The entirety of the Krijgsbanen on the left and right bank will become a bicycle

highway. In design, both of these roads will become boulevards lined with

trees to establish the pearl necklace with the green areas of the forts. In cross

section, the boulevard on the left will be less monumental than its right bank

counterpart, meaning a lower maximum building height and street width. This

is to reflect the roads more rural setting.

For the green belt around the city, the existing infrastructural plans will be

scaled up. The public transport and bicycle highway will be extended to go

around the entirety of the ring park, including the section on the north side

of Linkeroever to stimulate its transition to part of Antwerp’s inner-city. The

current end of the public transport infrastructure at the Blancefloerlaan – the

old chaussee to Ghent with the visual axis to the cathedral – will be extended

to the north, to join the already planned bicycle highway. A similar bridge as

the one from the south, one for public transport and cyclists/pedestrians, will

be constructed on the northern side of Linkeroever, to visually connect the

left and the right. The continuation of this transport line will be used as the

defining edge of the densification of Linkeroever, leaving a broad strip between

it and Zwijndrecht and Burcht for the ring park (more on this in chapter X).

Linkeroever’s direct connections to the inner-city of Antwerp will be improved

as well. The Charles de Costerlaan, the boulevard that is disconnected from

the highway, will be reconnected to its historic counterpart; the Dwarslaan,

to give the boulevard a proper ‘end’ and to create another public transport

corridor into Linkeroever and Antwerp. An additional tunnel for cars and public

transport, tram and bus (and possibly cyclists), will be added to the east of the

Galgeweel, connecting to the southern part of the Leien. This will relieve the

Waaslandtunnel, which does not meet current safety regulations. As a result of

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this, the Waaslandtunnel will become a bicycle and public transport connection.

Creating this new tunnel will establish a connection between the northern

and the southern part of the Leien, thereby establishing a better link between

the two parts of the city, and effectively create a(nother) ring around the city.

This time around its historic centres.

The Ring Park will make a connection to the water element of the

Grote Omwalling on both the left and right side of the Scheldt. On the right,

the wet moat around the ramparts will be reflected in the park; on the left,

the larger inundation area will link back to the Borgerweertpolder. Creating

this historical link can help solve contemporary problems relating to climate

adaptation - using the Ring Park for the city’s water system - and restore a link

to the historic fortification spiral. In addition, the link to the historic inundation

area will also maintain and improve Linkeroever’s role in the ecological radial

that is the Scheldt river valley.

On the left, two agricultural radials will be established on the capped

highway sections to maintain a separation between the villages, and to mirror

Antwerp’s radial green structure; establishing familiar characteristics on the

other side of the river. On the right bank, the Peerdsbos radial and Luchtbal

will be used to continue the fortification spiral into the city, where the ring park

will pick it up with its link to the water in the Grote Omwalling.

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Industry

Shops

Industry

Industry

Shops

Sports

Industry

Industry

Business

Education & He alth

Figure The 3.23 amenities corridors as carriers Polycentric of polycentric development development, mediating between the ring and the Krijgsbaan.

Conceptual drawing of the amenities

corridors as carriers of the polycentric The polycentric development of the suburban region will be carried by the

development, connecting the suburbs

major economic functions observed in the analysis part of this chapter. The

to the ring zone.

linear shape of these carriers will be fixed in place by adding multimodal hubs

at either end; the ring zone at the edge of the city, and the inner fortification

belts at the edge of the suburban region. By using the entirety of the economic

radial for the polycentric development, a certain serving function to the

inner-city is maintained. Each of these economic zones will have a minimal

of two multimodal hubs at either end, and depending on the location and

existing connections, another multimodal hub half way into the zone. Several

new radial public transport connections will be established between the ring

zone and the Krijgsbanen on the left and right side of the river, to cater to the

development of the economic hubs. Like two public transport connections at

the university/health care centre, and the economic zones on Linkeroever.

On the right side of the city, two economic hubs will have to be

further developed. The recreational hub with shopping, sports, and culture

near the Schijn valley at Borgerhout, will be extended via the Krijgsbaan to

the cultural activities in the forts (museums and associations), and connected

to the shopping radial. Further to the south, the position of the airport will be

used to extend the business parks at the ring zone to the Krijgsbaan. The main

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goal here is to serve as a catalyst for the urbanisation of the low-density part of

Borgerhout.

On the left side of the river, the industrial radials will be used as economic

carriers, as well as the rural shopping centre of Zwijndrecht. All of these

economic radials have the potential to form the same connection to the city, as

the right side does. In the initial phases, the main connection to the industrial

hub at the northern end of the Krijgbaan will be via the P+R structure near

Zwijndrecht.

Linkeroever’s current main economic carrier, its diverse recreational

activities, will be expanded to attract other amenities to the district and make it

a fully functioning part of the city.

Order of development

Sections 1

For quick wins the bicycle highway and ferry connection on the Krijgsbanen

between left and right should be constructed first. This will quickly increase the

reachability of the economic zones in the suburban region, and establish a

recreational and cultural link to the different ecological areas in and around

Antwerp, and the fortification spiral observed in the previous chapter.

Section 2 & 3

Directly after the completion of the ring, the development and densification of

Linkeroever and the ring zone can start. As well as the instalment of the tram

lines and the densification of the section from the junction of the Kennedytunnel

and the new Scheldt bridge, to the P+R at the Schijn River valley, since

this is the most urban part of the suburbs. Followed by the section to the north

(section 3).

Section 4

The final piece is the left bank track going from the peripheral Scheldt crossing