20 November 2020


New final element at Single focuses on shared greener and optimized mobility

CORES Development and Alides are launching the Mariahof master plan in Berchem.

The city of Antwerp today laid down a definitive framework for the Mariahof site on the Uitbreidingstraat in Berchem. The new master plan includes the sites of bpost, Belgacom and, in cooperation with the Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen [Antwerp Care Company], the Sint-Maria residential care site. The plan provides for the renovation of the Sint-Maria site and the possibility of a new office project on the plot between the Singel and Uitbreidingstraat. The Antwerp-Berchem station in the vicinity means sustainable commuting as well.

Antwerp city council today approved the Mariahof master plan in Uitbreidingstraat in Berchem. The decision makes it possible to build a new office project between the Singel and Uitbreidingstraat. In addition, the Sint-Maria residential care facility can be renovated. The owners, real estate developers Alides and CORES Development, and Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen, are satisfied with the new decision.

New city council decision

The previous city council decision in 2017 was based on an independent development of the bpost, Belgacom and Sint-Maria sites.

Rikkert Leeman, Alides CEO: “The cooperation with Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen has created new possibilities and opportunities for the joint vision of both sites that go beyond the original preconditions and ambitions of the decision of 24 March 2017 and capitalize fully on the potential of the site as an urban ensemble.”

Extra amenity green space and services

Alides, CORES and Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen are planning the renovation of the Sint-Maria residential care site and a new office project on the plot between the Singel and Uitbreidingstraat. All the new office buildings will soon be aligned with the contours of the Sint-Maria residential care site, creating open space on the east side and without buildings opposite the current row of houses. Much of this newly created green space will be transferred to the city and become public space.

“We intend to redevelop both the open spaces and the public crossings in a qualitative manner. The new project will optimize the existing green spaces by interconnecting them, but will also add new ones. For example, the green space in the neighbourhood will be expanded by more than 11,000 m².” – Jurgen Van Bogaert, CORES Development.

In addition, space will be provided on the site for services that are also of interest to local residents. The initiators are for instance looking for a place for co-working, small-scale catering or services such as a doctor’s practice or ironing facility. The aim is to create permanent interaction by and between the local residents and the users of the site.

The Berchem railway station area has suffered increasingly from flooding in recent years. Run-off water is finding its way into the station area because this part of Berchem is lower than the rest of the city, and because of the large amount of surfacing and infrastructure. As a result, the existing sewerage system will no longer be able to cope with heavy peak showers.

By shifting the buildings in the master plan and concentrating them on a smaller area, Berchem’s park will be freed up as undeveloped space by shifting the buildings in the master plan and concentrating them on a smaller area. Here, a channer will serve as buffer for rainwater from the new buildings, but will in future also from part of the streets in Oud-Berchem [Old Berchem], so that any heavy rainfall can seep better into the ground. As a result, the sewerage system will not be burdened further, and the groundwater level can be restored.

In line with the environment

The buildings adjacent to the Uitbreidingstraat will follow the height of the current buildings, which in are four storeys high in Oud-Berchem. The context is different on the side of the Singel, and some of the buildings will go higher, in line with other buildings there.

Landscape architect Luc Wallays from OMGEVING [Vicinity] attests as a partner and direct neighbour of the project: “As a design firm, we are in a privileged location close to Berchem station, within walking distance of the current Sint-Maria site. The transformation of the three sites into a single coherent master plan will mean significant added value for the neighbourhood. It will confer appeal and a strong identity onto the site, which is now a back end. In addition to high-quality architecture, the public domain will also get a strong makeover, which will make this part of Uitbreidingstraat far more attractive.”

Optimization of mobility

Alides, CORES and Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen aspire to optimize mobility in the neighbourhood and are looking into the possibilities together with the city of Antwerp.

“Working together with the Sint-Maria residential care centre, could enable us to come up with optimal solutions, such as encouraging the double use of parking spaces and limiting car park entrances. Part of the car park will also be available for the neighbourhood,” says Rikkert Leeman. “We are also looking for actions and measures to reduce the impact of the project and optimize mobility in the neighbourhood. Mobility studies have shown the impact of the new project on traffic in the neighbourhood is almost negligible when a new exit is provided from the Singel.”

Jurgen Van Bogaert: “We are also making maximal use of the modal shift, whereby users of the complex are encouraged to come by public transport, bicycle or on foot. This seems obvious to us given the proximity of the Antwerp-Berchem railway station. Today’s employers are looking precisely for projects close to a railway station, so spare their employees from having to spend too long in traffic jams.”

Neighbourhood and planning information moment

Real estate developers Alides and CORES Development are organizing a digital information event for the neighbourhood this autumn to present the new master plan. Local residents will receive a personal invitation by post.

According to the current schedule, construction work on the southern part of the master plan is to start at the end of 2021. The old bpost and Belgacom sites would then be revamped at the beginning of 2024.