‘Slachthuis’, Antwerp abattoir site, is to be transformed into public and student district with AP University College

Tim Harrup

The ambitious project to transform the entire district around the former abattoir site at Antwerp docks has been unveiled. In terms of public facilities, there will be a square with restaurants and bars, shaded by the tree canopy, featuring a play fountain and suitable for community events. There will also be a sports ground in this former port area, a water garden with special plants, green residential streets and a sustainable college campus, along with other features.

From the autumn of 2022 the area between the site of the abattoir and the Nordschippers and Lobroek docks in Antwerp North will be converted into a green district for housing, services, recreation and business activities. The City of Antwerp approved the concept design for the public space after surveying local residents. The impact of climate and noise has been taken fully into account and pedestrians and cyclists are also catered for. Where the rest of the timing is concerned, there will be a definitive design for the public space by the end of 2021. After the tender and the environmental permit, the construction of phase one of the public space (the Kalverwei, the Oude Kalverstraat and the Lobroekplein) can begin as of autumn 2022. AP University College’s new Hallenplein campus has to be ready by 2024.

Green and slow

Commenting on the ambitious project, Antwerp Councillor for urban development and spatial planning Annick De Ridder, says: “Our aim is to create high-quality public space for young and old, which will be optimally green. It involves the development of some 104,000 m² of public space, around 39,000 m² of which will be green space within the former abattoir site. The public space forms a green connection between the existing and new district, with a focus on various play, sports and meeting areas. It will be a low-traffic district, with a network for slow traffic connecting the different places. With 13.7 million Euros of the urban development budget in play, it is clear that we are pulling out all the stops to build a new gem of Antwerp North here.”

The growing AP University College Antwerp is also set to move to the new district, not far from its other campus at Park Spoor Noord. On the new Hallenplein, the university college will build a nearly zero-energy (NZEB) campus for some 3,500 students. There will be a new tower and the university college will re-use the existing warehouses. This represents 22,000 m² and an investment of 77 million Euros.

This project comes in the wake of developers Triple Living and Immobel joined the city development project as private partners in 2018: Triple Living acquired 70% ownership and Immobel 30%. And indeed, Triple Living and Immobel are the first to unveil the name of the site ‘Slachthuis’, which connects the past and future and conveys the neighbourhood’s identity. Director of Triple Living Jeff Cavens: “For us and for all Antwerp residents, this part of the Damwijk will always be inextricably linked to the site’s industrious abattoir past, the soul of which lives on in the many restaurants there. With the name ‘Slachthuis’, this unique part of Antwerp retains its identity”.