Nieuw Zuid Masterplan Antwerp
Masterplan - redevelopment of a former harbour area into a new urban district
In 2011, the City of Antwerp and a private developer launched a design contest for a new urban district at Nieuw Zuid, an abandoned harbour area and freight station wedged between the inner ring road (Singel) and the outer ring road. POLO Architects participated in collaboration with Wit architects Bruno De Meulder and Kelly Shannon, both professors at the University of Leuven.
The master plan put forward by POLO Architects and Wit is the result of a quest for an adequate urbanism model for the new city district. Against the city's advice, the design is reluctant when it comes to high-rise buildings and new iconic architecture (besides the Palace of Justice by Richard Rogers, among others).
By contrast, it opts for a strongly densified district as a continuation of the city along the Scheldt riverside quays. Inspiration is drawn from the qualities of the majestic residential streets and broad, tree-lined avenues that characterise the city's 19th century belt.
"The buildings reflect the harbour imagery. Like stacked containers, they are organised in parallel strips, perpendicular to the Scheldt river. The rationality of the stacked containers is countered by variations in height, position, colour and use of materials. The containers' repetitive pattern and their interchangeability create a flexible plan that is capable of integrating different types of future-oriented housing." – Patrick Lootens, founding partner POLO Architects
FLEXIBLE AND MODULAR
The new urban district is resolutely oriented towards the river. The broad avenues are perpendicular to the Scheldt, so that even residents living further away from the riverside can enjoy a privileged relationship with the water. The avenues connect two metropolitan areas: the linear riverside park and the 'Konijnenwei' (rabbit field), a green, open residual space that is arranged as a new city park. Secondary, more intimate lanes and alleys, perpendicular to the avenues, increase the neighbourhood's porosity and permeability.
"The Nieuw Zuid master plan is flexible and modular, but at the same time, it avoids the abstraction of the urban design that defines the framework of roads, infrastructure and building volumes. It moves in the grey zone between urbanism and architecture." – Patrick Lootens, founding partner POLO Architects
Reflecting on what the city should look like is an explicit factor in all architectural projects by POLO Architects. Conversely, the architectural knowledge serves the urban design.
Nieuw Zuid was an opportunity to draw up a master plan from an architectural perspective. By bridging the gap between architecture and urban planning, we create room to focus on a very concrete experience of city life.
The team did not win the contest. The jury selected the design by the Secchi-Viganò team.
images: POLO Architects
D'Herbouvillekaai / Ledeganckkaai / Namenstraat / Jan van Gentstraat / Brusselstraat / Ring, Antwerp
Stadsontwikkeling Nieuw Zuid
WIT architecten - ASRO KULeuven - PROAP - ARUP