Architecture Design Option Studio — ANTWERP PLAZAS (D'Hooghe)

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This studio aims to produce research and design propositions for new multimodal environments in the Ring zone of Antwerp. Antwerp is a city with a strong profile in both the applied arts (fashion, furniture, diamonds, design) an in business (biggest port of Northern Europe), with a metropolitan population of about 1.5M inhabitants.  In 2017, a historic breakthrough between governments and civic action committees yielded a ‘covenant for the future of the Antwerp region’. This covenant describes among others covering the Ring around the historic city, and it also focuses on a rapid increase in mobility offerings beyond the personal vehicle. Both are projects in progress. The masterplan for the city has identified 4 specific nodes on top of the ring, and adjacent to a railroad line, where maximum multimodal mobility choices ought to be offered. There is no design vision yet.

Multi-modal mobility – e.g. car sharing systems coupled with autonomous driving; or various forms of light technology such as e-scooters, e-bikes, etc. – is currently vastly expanding as investment capital worldwide is flowing at an unprecedented rate into companies offering combinations of new business models with new technologies. However, the spatial opportunities of this investment explosion are not mapped yet.

The studio will design an integrated urban space, and its architecture, for this completely new technological flow to be wired and integrated, so as to maximize intermodal exchange. It is our hypothesis that such spaces will become the de facto central plazas for the entire region, with high densities of passage. They will therefore attract various other programs benefiting from proximity to such a flow density. Therefore, these are the new centers of the metropolitan region. They deserve a new kind of architecture, both proud and generous. The studio will explore and suggest different configurations to for program and form, to provide a face, and a stage for this new kind of urbanity.

The purpose is an architectural program that masters the incredible complexity of flows into a coherent stage, crisp form, and compelling scenography. The studio will allow exchanges with leading actors in the region. Travel is likely but not guaranteed yet.