Below, Above, and Beyond: Future of Antwerp’s Mobility and Public Space

This studio aims to project the near-future scenario of Antwerp 's mobility and public space. We will challenge the conventional monofunctionality of urban infrastructure by proposing the interweaving of the under- and aboveground. Two major mobility enhancement projects are currently underway in the city: the ongoing construction of the Oosterweel Link, which will close the incomplete Antwerp ring road (R1), and the planning of A102, which will enhance the city’s overall mobility in a larger European Union (EU) context while diverting as much through-traffic as possible from the city. Although both routes have been planned to run mainly underground, the proportion of underground to aboveground for A102 remains undecided (in connection with the city’s reserved green space network), which provides the studio with a tremendous opportunity to reshape the city’s car-dependent mobility infrastructure toward decarbonization. The studio will examine the four nodes on the planned route of A102 where the underground highway will rise to meet the existing community and public spaces above and will consider how landscape can facilitate a framework for such infrastructural change.

The students will carry out the project in three phases. In the first four weeks of the semester, “Part 1: Context and Imagination,” pairs of students will investigate the site, mainly on and around but not limited to A102, and will examine Antwerp’s status in regard to mobility and public space. Students will be asked to explore the best media to be used throughout the semester to present the imaginative dimension of the topic and sites. When students use sectional thinking and representation as common design and commutative tools to deeply explore the site and problem, they will be asked to find an associated tool to expand their design and imaginatively represent the spatial experience.
In “Part 2: On Site,” the studio will visit the site to test the findings of Part 1 and conduct field research.

In the later part of the semester, “Part 3: Landscape as a Framework,” students will first establish the overall distribution of programs along and around the A102 route, with the community and public space as priorities. Next, they will proceed to the site-specific design of one of the four nodes, in which the mobility, subterranean, aboveground, and public space network will work together to enhance the life of the community, with the eventual goal of decarbonizing Antwerp.

This is a parallel studio with the Faculty of Design Sciences at the University of Antwerp (U of A), and the studio will benefit from the dynamic exchange between the two schools. The instructor will meet in person with the class during studio hours unless otherwise indicated. The course is open to all students who are eligible to take an optional studio in spring 2023, but applicants should bear in mind that this is a very design-oriented studio, and students will be expected to communicate through plans, sections, models, and other types of representational media.