Capping of the ring road

Since 2020, IDW focuses on what is seen as the most epic construction project of Antwerp in the XXI century: the capping of the ring road. If the ring road is seen as an almost literal line of fracture, how can the capping of the road then be seen as sealing the fracture, and setting an agenda towards a better world?


The capping of the Antwerp ring road creates new opportunities. On the one hand it offers an answer to the supralocal problem of traffic flow around and through Antwerp, on the other hand, at local level it offers the adjacent neighborhoods a new place for urban life. For both levels, the supralocal and the local, conceptual design proposals have been made. What has not or insufficiently been done yet, is to develop ideas about the quality of urban life during the time of construction, which can be estimated at 10 to 15 years – the duration in which a child becomes a youngster and a youngster adult. How can this timespan become a meaningful given in the creation of a better future for this area and its inhabitants?

IDW considers the timespan of the construction works as an opportunity for the city and the involved neighborhoods to gradually rearrange and transform this area into a fair and vibrant piece of Antwerp. The area of Luchtbal has a remarkable history and a diverse and complicated population today. Although it might be known as a “difficult urban area”, its material and immaterial heritage and its vast open space and young population provide rich grounds for getting such process of transition started. IDW aims at identifying and revealing “what lives among people” – particularly young people – and at providing help in giving it a proper “place”.

The role of IDW

In IDW, the International Design Workshop Week, ‘design’ is understood as a process of identifying available resources, actors and ideas, and bringing them into a new constellation, in order to reveal something better than could be expected so far, and meant to be owned by someone else (a product developer conceives a new product but is not the user; an (interior) architect designs a house but is not the one who will inhabit it; the artist realizes a work of art in order to be experienced by others…). IDW believes that making design ideas more tangible during fun events, design sessions and building campaigns, not only involves/engages residents that usually don’t attend participation events but also increases the awareness of the residents of the issues at stake and the  chances for solutions for their community needs. We believe that design is able to trigger parties, to provoke interactions between actors that have not been identified before, and inspire for solutions that have not yet been thought of.

The 2020 edition

The IDW2020 edition looked upon the capping of ring road as the creation of a new urban common. It focused on the Northern part of the ring road, more particularly the connection between Luchtbal and Lambrechtshoeken, and aimed at giving voice to those groups and communities that are not reached by regular participatory approaches and at revealing qualities of places that were overlooked.

The 2021 edition

IDW2021 is a sequel, and will work on this subject as well. It continues building upon the richness and power of the existing, relying upon design as a process of bringing the existing into new powerful constellations. This edition focusses on culture - culture as an emanation of what was and what is, but also as a space where future is made. Culture is performative. Cultural “performance” gives exposure to both “what lives among people” and “how the world could become”. How then can the long term of the construction works become a period of meaningful transition and empowerment, rather than a temporary, but one decade long, nuisance and burden?