- Imagining a new Waterfront for Antwerp   click here to open paper content193 kb
by    van de Put, Margot & Teughels, Philippe | margot.vandeput@stad.antwerpen.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Antwerp is about to intervene in one of its most sensitive places, i.e. its waterfront. An innovative strategy will deal with a long term transformation process. Key issues: relation between river and city, public space, waterfront protection.
Antwerp is about to intervene in one of the most sensitive places of the city, i.e. the 6 km long Scheldt Quays. 15 years after a first international design contest in this area, the conditions have changed, since the Flemish Government approved the “Sigmaplan” for the flood protection in the entire Scheldt estuary. As a consequence, the existing flood protection wall along the quays will be raised an additional 90cm. After the straightening of the quay wall (19th century) and the relocation of the harbour activities (20th century), the quays are facing once again a far-reaching transformation. This infra-structural operation requires a fundamental re-visioning of the relation between river and city.

Actually, the city of Antwerp and the Flemish department responsible for flood protection are setting up a multi-staged planning process. First milestone is the drawing up of a Masterplan. Main challenge is to mediate between different - and contradictory? - concerns such as public space and security. In extension negotiations about financial engagements must be facilitated. But the vision to be built up in the Masterplan cannot make abstraction of some more generic challenges.
- Transforming the historically and emotionally charged quays requires wide public support. Therefore visioning must keep pace with consciousness-raising amongst the quay’s users, especially concerning the raising of the waterfront protection level.
- A new urban landscape and city waterfront cannot ignore its multi-layered past and meaning.
- With the Masterplan advantage must be taken to give coherence to ongoing planning processes for recent and future urban expansions along the quays.

A multidisciplinary design team was selected to draw up the Masterplan. Its strength consist merely in the elaboration of an innovative instrument and strategy for this planning process. The team shows how flexible use of it should structure a long term transformation process that can be set out only partially at this point. It will work towards an “optimal starting position” leaving margins for the future.
waterfront - public space - planning strategy
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