Labo XX, 2015


LabXX Opting for the twentieth-century belt
Michiel Dehaene, Isabelle Verhaert (eds) with the contribution of 51N4E
Date: 2015
Publisher: Patricia De Somer, City of Antwerp
ISBN: 9789080934405
280 X 190 mm, 151 pages, English and Dutch

Available here

This publication contains the work conducted by four design teams who reflected on the future of Antwerp's twentieth-century belt in the past year. This is the area outside of the ring motorway which, in addition to magnificent historical district centres and forts, also encompasses many post-war residential neighbourhoods, large industrial areas and wide open spaces and green structures. Why is the City of Antwerp currently studying this area? Isn't this our own territory and hasn't it always been here? While this is true this area is less well known than the area within the ring motorway (the city centre).

When people refer to the city they often automatically think of iconic places in the historical city centre, such as the Cathedral, the Meir shopping street and Groenplaats. But also of almost forgotten places which have recently been thrust into the spotlight again thanks to urban renewal projects such as Eilandje, the MAS, Park Spoor Noord and the Scheldt quays. Thanks to these and other projects, the city centre's appeal has significantly increased in recent years. After years of urban flight old and new residents, entrepreneurs and real estate developers rediscovered our city centre. Renovation projects, original shops, creative enterprises and new residential developments popped up all over the city. The population explosion of recent years largely manifested itself within the ring motorway in other words.

However, this positive development also has a number of unpleasant consequences. Mobility and parking have become a problem in the city centre. Real estate is becoming prohibitively expensive for young families and entrepreneurs, who are increasingly searching for affordable real estate outside of the ring motorway. This is not a problem per se, in fact it is even good news as it is the perfect opportunity to look beyond the city centre and its increased appeal thanks to joint investments and efforts by the city, the government, residents and entrepreneurs to see how we can achieve the same development in the twentieth-century belt. Albeit in a different way.