Antwerp City Camping

Location: Antwerp
Year: 2021
Area: 41.600 m2
Status: selected competition
Client: Inleisure
Team: Remko Remijnse, Agnese Argenti, Emanuele Saracino, Kristina Barbalat, Matteo Carbone

At the beginning of 2021 2by4 participated and was selected as winner for a tender announced by Antwerp municipality aimed to give new functions and new settlement and to give new opportunities for a large area on the left bank of the Scheldt. This side of the river is the less touristic one in Antwerp, since it hosts several industrial buildings and harbor infrastructure, so the municipality is trying to give new purpose to some unused areas. In particular their goal is to create a city camping to attract tourists in this area.

In first instance and extensive research was brought on in all directions, looking for some of the opportunities who could be used to boost the design:
– Historically Antwerp is always been a very important trading hub, so it was completely surrounded by a massive defensive wall on both east and west bank, but nowadays all of this is almost completely disappeared. However part of this wall happened to pass right on the selected plot. This creates an important background we used as a framework for the design;
– The infrastructures connecting this area with the west side of the Scheldt are many, public transport by bus and tram, bike lanes, pedestrian paths and car lanes all passing in tunnels under the river. This gave us a good idea for the orientation of the camping, position of the main entrances and connecting paths;
– The biggest attraction point is right next to the plot selected for the tender, it is another empty plot that’s being used for many events, in particular for a famous music festival. This means that every many people come there to stay some days and camping right next to event site. In addition to this the road that leads people to this site is the same that leads to the entrance of the selected plot;
– Despite the distance from the center of Antwerp, reaching a certain height is possible to have a clear view of some of the landmarks on the west bank. This was the reason that led us to design a taller building which aligns perfectly with the landmarks, functioning as watchtower.

The concept behind the whole design is to use the defensive walls layout as a citadel layout, simulating the setup of a citadel, with the wall contour, a village-like area, a forest area, a field-like area right out of the contour of the “walls” and a city entrance door.
The contour of the ancient walls is used a trace for the main internal road of the park, which is elevated to visually divide the outer and the inner parts of the citadel. Inside the citadel there is a village-like area, provided with smaller paths spreading all over, that will host most of the big lodges, designed to be transportable in one or more modules. North of the village it seamlessly starts the forest area, where, well integrated in the vegetation, are placed the smaller huts, with an wooden walkway elevated from the forest ground, so the natural undergrowth can be as much as possible untouched. Outside the citadel there is an empty field, which recalls the farmlands, and it will be used as space for tent camping.

Even though the cabins are all self sufficient, the recreational purpose of the park requires a central service building. 2by4 designed a main building for the park which consists in one long rectangular volume, with the main entrance cutting this volume, and the volume of the watchtower standing on top of the passage. The concept is to resemble the entrance door of a fortified citadel, with defensive towers close to the main gate. All the facades are treated with wood planks and glass portions, but the tower volume is characterized by wooden lamella on all sides, in order to seem lighter compared to the rest despite the big height difference. The program consists in a restaurant, a daycare, a supermarket and a reception, while the top of the tower serves as lookout towards the surroundings.