A first look at the renewed Arena district: greener and car-free (Deurne)

The Arena district in Deurne-Zuid has seen better days. Over the years, concrete rot and other signs of age have seriously affected the iconic buildings of the equally iconic Antwerp architect Renaat Braem (1910-2001).

Reason enough for the city of Antwerp to take care of the district. The public housing, on the side of the Arena swimming pool, will be demolished and replaced by new construction: 148 apartments and parking garages. The pool itself is also falling apart. That demolition is planned for the summer of 2023. The most valuable architecture, the Braem blocks in Dordrechtlaan, will be thoroughly renovated. The towers that are scattered in the neighborhood will, for the time being, be kept as they are. In the long term, it is unknown whether they will be renovated or replaced by a new building.

The district will also have a greener feel and become car-free. The first designs of what the Arena neighborhood will look like are now available. This is the first sketch design, which will be further refined in the coming months. The city chose the team Cluster, Bulk architects, Karuur architects and Wit architects as the design team.

This image shows the new design for the space around the Woutersbloks, the towers. The public space must be greened and made more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists. rr


A drastic reorganization of car traffic and parking infrastructure is imminent. Visitor parking (3) will move to the edge of the district. For the residents, maximum use is made of underground parking garages. The neighborhood is car-free. Through traffic will only be possible for preparedness, unloading and loading as well as moving movements. Dordrechtlaan is cut.

Wide paths, for both cyclists and pedestrians, give soft road users more space.

The parking space in front of Arenahal remains, but can only be used sporadically, for e.g. events.

The new design of the paths and roads in the district. More green, less pavement and car-free. The iconic Braem blocks are being renovated. rr

Arena square

The gray mass that Arenaplein is today will be a thing of the past. It will become greener and will form the heart of the district. The market is moved to the parking lot at Muggenberglei.

The contours of the old fort are visible again. For example, the typical triangular defensive structure will return in the form of a wadi (a water buffer) in front of the Arenahallen. It will be slightly lower and the height difference will be absorbed by steps. This ‘staircase’ thus forms one long bench.

The new design for Arenaplein. The basketball court will remain and a soccer field will be added. New trees will be planted and a compact parking lot will be built on Muggenberglei. rr

Arena eng

Activities in schools, sports clubs or the city can take place here. Small festivals or concerts would also be possible. The paved area at the back of the Arenahallen will be raised so that it can function as a terrace area that should provide a comfortable resting place with a view of the park and playing children.

The existing lawn will be retained. A few slopes will be added that refer to the old fortress Deurne. rr

Waste management

The weekly waste collection will be replaced by sorting streets to ensure the neighborhood’s low-traffic character. Every resident will have access to a sorting street within 150 metres.

spare time

Two dog pastures are made available as well as two playgrounds, one aimed at 0 to 6 year olds and one for 6 to 12 year olds. The existing basketball court on the Arenaplein will be retained and a soccer field will be added. This will be built deeper, so that no ball catchers have to be placed, because that would disturb the view.

The back of the Arenahallen. By raising the terrain there a little, it all ties in nicely with the meadow. rr

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