Antwerp launches design competition for covering ring road


The reality of covering Antwerp’s extension of its ring road, known as the Oosterweel project, is one step closer with the launch of a competition

‘Transformation of Antwerp’

Alexander D’Hooghe, the consultant hired to look into the possibility of enclosing the Antwerp ring road as part of the Oosterweel project, has issued an international invitation to urban design teams to submit their own ideas. Covering the extension of the ring road, creating a tunnel and open space above, was originally floated by civil activist group Ringland and is closer to becoming a reality with the call for designs.

The idea follows the principles of the Rebuild By Design movement, influential in architecture and urban planning circles, which holds that cities have evolved as a piecemeal solution to the problems of the past and are no longer suitable for the challenges of the future. This is the first time the principles would be applied in Flanders

The project involves splitting the ring into five sections, with the design teams for each section to be announced following a contest. The government has a number of conditions to ensure that the final results form a coherent whole, but other than that, the teams will be free to come up with their own designs, in co-operation with civil action groups and local residents.

“The challenges are not negligible,” said D’Hooghe, an associate professor at MIT and a founding partner of the think tank Organization for Permanent Modernity. “The teams selected will form the basis for the transformation of Antwerp. The spaces designed by the teams will add green and high-quality public space to the city, bring neighbourhoods back together and provide space for public transport and soft mobility – cyclists and pedestrians.”

Photo: A drawing of what open space above the ring road extension could look like