Public space Kievit neighborhood, Antwerp by

2024 Public Projects / Belgium / Built in 2018 /

The public space of the Kievit neighborhood serves as international oriented entrance area of the well-known Central Station of Antwerp, as an urban work-and living place in this city quarter and as a leisure area for locals. Therefore the design team BUUR-HOSPER takes a strong identity as paramount in the design: as recognizable binding figure for the different spheres and users, and as a structuring public realm for the entire neighborhood (existing urban fabric and new developments).

Due to a lack of human scale planning in the past, the area faced several problems arising from a typical clash between dominant new high-rise and the existing low rise neighborhood. At the backside of the station area, the left-over linear space along the railway formed a rift in the urban fabric, which resulted in unattractive elongated public domain on top of a spaghetti of underground parking and infrastructures, missing connectivity with the neighborhood on the other side of the railway, a lack of public space program at ground level, poor interaction with the plinth of the surrounding buildings, and consequently security issues.

After winning the design competition commissioned by the city of Antwerp, an extensive co-creation process with the neighborhood was set up. The aim of the city and the design team was to translate more social aspects and needs into the spatial concept design and by doing so strengthen the ownership by residents. Residents were invited to criticize the plan concept and to suggest additional program, resulting in a shortlist of absolute must haves for the redevelopment of the public space. To involve children, a tree-planting campaign was set up with neighborhood schools, in which the first currant trees of the project were planted. Judging by the vigour and smiling faces, the pupils are now ambassadors for life. The valued participation process resulted in a adapted spatial concept by BUUR – HOSPER that had been set up around three basic components: identity, greenery and shelter. In general, it can be said that the concept aims for a green and characterful public space, a variety of program for different users and better connections with the surrounding area.

Introducing substantial green structures and red custom made elements in the design provides coherence in the whole area and gives the neighborhood a green, urban character and appearance. In the sightlines of the new and existing connections, trees were planted, giving the area an image-defining character in all seasons. Raised ‘green cushions’ shape the space and provide comfort with informal green, play and seating areas. The characteristic red benches were equipped with table tops and game boards.

The design provides all the necessary spatial and infrastructural connections, lifting the former isolation of the Kievit neighborhood. The neighborhood is thus better anchored in its surroundings by creating explicit spatial connections, both north-south and in the largely new east-west connections under the tracks. In particular, we mention the pedestrian connection created across the bridge (fundamentally stretching the reach) and the new tunnel under the railway (connecting both neighborhoods on the right and left from the railway infrastructure).

Taking into account the high technical constraints, the team was also challenged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions for different connections and adding playful public space program. For example, the central pedestrian and bicycle tunnel was embellished and therefore provided with an inviting fold in the tunnel mouth. On top of the bridge over the Plantin and Moretuslei, a unique meeting place was created, with an fence as a play wall, a multicourt and a stage, a grandstand and a terrace where all kinds of activities are possible. The city balcony on the bridge has now won its place as a meeting spot for local residents. A game of basketball, skating or climbing the trellis is never dull with a view on the city.

The public space now fulfils its role as an international entrance area to the Central Station, offers this city quarter an urban ambience as a working and living environment and enriches the neighborhood with structuring greenery and leisure facilities.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: HOSPER Landscape Architecture and Urban Design

Location: Van Immerseelstraat, Antwerp, Belgium (

Design year: 2012 – 2015

Year Completed: 2015 – 2018


LILA 2024 Sponsor