Redevelopment of the River Scheldt Left Bank
Design year: 2019
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In order to prevent possible flooding as a consequence of climate change, the Antwerp municipality in cooperation with De Vlaamse Waterweg NV (Flemish water authority) will raise the dyke on the Left Bank of the River Scheldt. The city of Antwerp, being a partner in the European ‘Interreg North Sea Area’ BEGIN program, will get European financial support in order to realise this infrastructural operation.
The Antwerp municipality will be raising the dyke on the River Scheldt Left Bank along a 7 kilometre stretch, from Burcht to Zwijndrecht. The dyke will also be reinforced wherever necessary.
Natural preservation – in particular of the mudflats and salt marshes – will be of paramount importance in this project because the tidal environment is home to a number of rare fauna and flora. More importantly, this tidal environment is the first line of defence against swells, alleviating pressure on the dykes. This natural area will therefore remain unhampered during the construction process.
As of yet the project is still in the design phase. Construction of the dyke will be phased because of the vast surface area of the project. The following areas will be modified consequently.
When the Burchtse Weel was connected to the River Scheldt in 2011, it turned into a well-preserved mudflat and salt marsh area. Preservation of this area will be paramount.
The discharge sluice of Galgenweel, Flanders largest briny lake, needs replacing. Flemish Water Authority ‘De Vlaamse Waterweg’ will first construct a new sluice before removing the old one. Furthermore, they will raise the adjacent 1 kilometre stretch of dyke.
Left Bank marina
Besides from raising the dyke along the Left Bank marina, a new sluice will be built 20 meters north, to replace the current sluice.
Co-creative design: civic participation and stakeholder inclusion
Besides raising the dykes on the Left Bank of the River Scheldt, the Antwerp municipality also has the ambition to reinstate the Sint-Anneke Plage neighbourhood (which is situated on the Left Bank) to its former glory. Both of these alterations of the public space will take place with a strong focus on including blue and green infrastructure.
The gateway to this area (the end of the Gloriantlaan) in particular offers plenty of possibilities for both a recreational as well as a climate resilient public space. In order to determine what these alterations should look like, the Antwerp municipality is taking it off the procedural beaten track by making use of an innovative and co-creative approach: a Design Sprint.
A Design Sprint is a short, hyper focused and continuous process. It aims at drawing a prototypical solution from a specific strategic challenge within one week. External stakeholders will perform tests on the prototype during this process.
In this case, a core team of 12 people participated in a Design Sprint running from Tuesday 20th until Saturday 24th of November 2018. External experts will also attended during this period.
Tuesday – Strategising
The first day of the Design Sprint was all about establishing a framework. After an introduction to the method of a Design Sprint, the Left Bank master plan, the different challenges faced and the program for the week, the ‘sprint team’ went outside to get a better understanding of the area. Walking through the neighbourhood provided insight into its dimensions, functions and atmosphere, giving a better sense of the possibilities. The introduction and this walk were in a way expectation management. It became clear what the limits were within which the sprint team had to come up with feasible ideas.
What followed was a keynote on ‘multiple values of nature inclusive design’, enlightening the participants on the versatility and evidence-based added value of greening.
With these lessons in mind, the day was ended with some ‘What if?’ and ‘How might we?’ exercises.
Wednesday – Creating
The second day kicked-off with a screening of a wide array of best practices and cases, providing the necessary input for the afternoon in which the participants were asked to, either individually or in a group, conceive and create potential interventions.
Notable was the fact that they invited a live action painter, who visually harvested the different ideas in drawings, which made the ideas more tangible.
Thursday – User experience + storytelling
With several ideas up in the air, the participants were asked to pitch those ideas to the others in the group on the third day, discuss them and start looking for synergies between ideas to mix-and-match.
The afternoon started off with a presentation on storytelling, helping them to create customer journeys for the ideas they combined during the morning. Again, the live action painter assisted in making those ideas come alive in drawings, which would prove very helpful in going through the customer journeys.
Friday – Prototyping
The last day of the journey itself consisted of prototyping. The prototypes in this design sprint were 5 journeys: 5 series of drawings, starting from a certain relatable situations, that showed the potential of the area to implement recreation as well as blue-green infrastructure.
Saturday – Testing + feedback
On the following day, the sprint team invited local stakeholders and residents to present the fruits of their labour and take them through the 5 different journeys. Feedback on these ideas were diligently captured to improve these concepts throughout the process.