With its dark pillars, its dazzling white towers with their open structures and its meticulous detailing, the new Theunis Bridge is a striking presence in the urban landscape of Antwerp, Belgium. The broad bicycle paths and footpaths hang like balconies on the outer sides of the bridge, giving cyclists and pedestrians the best views. Commissioned by De Vlaamse Waterweg, architectural studio ZJA set out to design the new bridge over the Albert Canal in collaboration with Arcadis, Sweco and OKRA Landscape Architects. It crosses the most important waterway in Flanders. To increase capacity for inland shipping, the canal is being modernized in many places. A bend at Merksem has been doubled in width and the clearance height also had to be increased, necessitating an entirely new bridge. The design unites functional demands with refined aesthetics.
The new Theunis Bridge is made of steel and built in three separate parts, taking cyclists, cars and trams to the other side pleasantly and safely as if along a boulevard. Daylight has free play between the three bridges. The canal banks and the passageway under the bridge have been through a metamorphosis too, resulting in safe, pleasant, hospitable urban surroundings. All this makes the new Theunis Bridge an improvement for its users as well as for shipping. A flowing link, an eyecatcher, and a tone-setter for the further redevelopment of this urban area.