Dry Docks Park, Antwerp, Belgium

Measure and Interval

Client: Stadtplanung Antwerpen
Architecture: Van Belle & Medina Architects
Period: 2011 – 2016
Surface area: 140 000m2

On the northern edge of the city of Antwerp, a former industrial harbour site gets transformed into a vibrant new park. The project forms a key part of Antwerp’s development plan for the historic quayside. Dry Docks Park is planned as a signifi cant attraction for the local and visiting public – a place of orientation at the meeting point of city, harbour and landscape.

The existing attributes of the site lend it to this intention. The site is bounded on all sides by water and accessed in four places by crossing lock gates and bridges: Moments of arrival and departure are thus already clearly articulated. The natural tidal riverbank of the river Scheldt offers far-reaching rural views and ideal contrast to the city and harbour skyline seen from the historic dry dock harbour. Throughout the site listed buildings and other structures including a popular rudimentary ‘Belvedere’ and pier bring scale and interest to the fl at terrain.

The design approach is to strengthen the identity of existing assets and connect them through a network of footpaths and cycle paths. The strategy is derived from the tradition of the English landscape park, which aims to establish the “measure and interval of events” in a landscape without predetermining form. Considered orchestration of a visitor’s movement and gaze allows the unifi cation of diverse ‘events’ in the mind of a visitor: The Belvedere is the definitive place of orientation and gathering of a formality and scale reminiscent of Antwerp’s former fortifi cations. The Landscape Park spreads the levels of the proposed dyke to enrich the topography of the site appropriate for diverse uses. The conservation of part of the Dry Docks as a visitor attraction belongs to a future project phase.