The Oosterweel connection closes the ring around Antwerp. It is a particularly complex project that has a huge impact on Antwerp and the region as a whole. It is the winning design of an international DBFM-contest (Design, Build, Finance and Maintain).
Local and international traffic will, for a large part, be separated, thereby allowing the Kennedy tunnel to be relieved of freight traffic. The Oosterweel connection is part of an important European traffic corridor between Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula. In addition, it ensures the optimal link between the ports on this international traffic route. The ecological impact of this solution also transcends the scale of Antwerp. There is a delicate relationship between the immense infrastructure, with its viaduct, tunnel and traffic nodes, and the surroundings. The way in which this infrastructure is embedded within the different urban areas is a particular concern. On the one hand, there is the urbanised and industrial Havendok and Dokkensingel and, on the other hand, the green Schelde Park. A range of architectural instruments are deployed in order to insert the infrastructure into the surroundings, including elements such as embankments, acoustic screens, the planting of trees, the shape of the columns under the viaducts, the laying of viaducts with an ecological aspect (eco-ducts) and the specific materials used. Thus, over the entire length of the project area, distinctions are made in terms of design and materials, between various forms of infrastructure (such as viaduct, bridge, tunnels) and between different transport networks for cars, cyclists and pedestrians. They are all designed in the function of speed and flow.
Our ambition, which is to limit the impact on the environment as much as possible, necessitates a curbing of the built surface area. Nodes are entrenched, surrounded by verges and acoustic screens, and integrated into the landscape through the targeted planting of trees. The objective is to unify an amalgamation of parkland, wooded areas and water gardens into a coherent landscaped whole.
The Spatial Structure Plan for Antwerp was the decisive factor for the design. The current urban area, the course of the River Scheldt and future urban developments determined the location and design of the bridge. The bridge is anchored to the solid, built environment of the city. Two high masts carry the double-decker bridge that hovers above the river landscape in one movement. The limited anchoring, and the uniform architectural shape, gives the bridge a powerful image. Acoustic research into how to reduce noise pollution from the bridge was also undertaken. The masts, as a result of the implantation, seem like giant city beacons marking the existing access roads (Noorderlaan /Albertkanaal bridge) and the Straatsburg bridge. The desire to integrate the bridge into the urban fabric in the best possible way led to a simplification of the bridge structure, the choice of one particular curve and to the cross-section in the shape of a double-deck bridge. These parameters are determined by the geometry of the anchoring of the two masts. The centre of gravity of the span that they underpin emphasises the curve of the bridge. The double-deck bridge is research by design into structural efficiency and the different forces that impact upon the shape and silhouette of the bridge within the landscape. The connection between the double-decker bridge and the road network is anchored on newly designed split level buildings that function as the pedestals of the bridge and as gateways to and from it. These split level buildings function as a kind of transformer, in which the adjacent carriageways are transformed into lanes that run on top of each other.
Finally, there is the aspiration to create an urban gateway of the bridge and for it to become a new urban centre. This translates into proposals for a new area of amenities around and under the bridge: by creating views, conglomerates of programmes for culture, a place for the fire brigade, a sports infrastructure, entertainment areas and recreation areas for pedestrians.
With these proposals we sought long-term solutions that are both integral and sustainable. We have tried to direct rather negative or problematic starting points towards positive solutions. This design is driven by the integration of urban planning, architecture and landscape: the principles that also determine the design strategy of NP-BRIDGING.
Design & coordination: NP-BRIDGING
Client: THV Noriant
Contractor: THV Noriant
Location: Antwerp (B)
Dimensions: 1,2 km, 150m high, 2 x 5 lanes
Status: in study
Copyright Images: Noriant, NP-BRIDGING