Client: Arcadis & Sweco
Contractor: THV Artes-Stadsbader-Taveirne
Principal: De Vlaamse Waterweg
Landscape architect: OKRA Landscape architects
Photos: ZIA, Eric Muller, Schreder, Infosteel
The Theunis Bridge, linking Merksem with Deurne, has been awarded the prestigious Architecture MasterPrize for 2022 in the ‘Infrastructure’ category. A steel bridge in three parts, with an increased clearance height, it takes cyclists, cars, and trams safely to the other side as if along a boulevard. With its dark pillars, dazzling white towers with an open structure, and meticulous detailing, the new bridge is a striking presence in the urban landscape of Antwerp.
Elegant eyecatcher over the Albert Canal
The new Theunis Bridge consists of three steel bridges side by side - two traffic bridges and a tram bridge in the middle - with the daylight having free play between them.
The bridge is striking for its dark substructure and its white, open superstructure. The V-shaped, upward-folded columns of the structure are a characteristic presence above pillars reminiscent of bridge towers or harbour cranes. The silhouette of the V-shape is asymmetrical and dynamic. Broad bicycle paths and footpaths hang like balconies on the outer sides of the bridge, giving cyclists and pedestrians the best view of the Albert Canal and its surroundings. The open shape of the iconic towers contributes to the effect, while the space under the bridge has become more attractive and hospitable.
Under the bridge
The canal banks and the passageway under the bridge have undergone a metamorphosis, resulting in a safe and pleasant urban space. The introduction of wooden seats, greenery, and good lighting below and beside the bridge has created a safe, enjoyable place. This makes the new Theunis Bridge an improvement not just for shipping, but also for its users and its surroundings. It serves as a flowing link with a striking appearance that sets the tone for further urban development and redevelopment of the area.
Increased clearance height and widening of the Albert Canal
The new Theunis Bridge also has an increased clearance height. Carrying almost forty million tons of goods per year, the Albert Canal is Flanders’ most important waterway. Container traffic in particular has grown strongly over recent years. The new Theunis Bridge has a clearance height of 9.10 metres, and the canal has been broadened to 63 metres wide. Inland vessels can now pass through safely.