5 exciting new neighbourhoods in Antwerp
The moment you enter Pakt’s cobbled courtyard, you feel the hip industrial buzz. Like somewhere in Berlin, the site is a grungy mix of crumbling brick buildings, old rusting machinery, rooftop greenhouses, and urban cafés. Several start-up companies have based themselves here, along with health restaurant Racine, coffee shop Caffènation and beerhouse Spéciale Belge. Be sure to check opening times before you go as some places close at the weekend.
2) Nieuw Zuid
A vast area of abandoned wasteland south of the city is being transformed into a new neighbourhood focused on sustainable architecture. Some of Europe’s most creative architects including Johannes Norlander and Peter Zumthor have been brought in to design 38 different projects on empty land once used for techno parties. Fringing the Scheldt waterfront, the Nieuw Zuid (New South) district is already attracting some of the city’s leading art dealers. Check out the sober concrete gallery built for Tim van Laere by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, explore Sofie van de Velde’s airy art space and stop for coffee in the new branch of Barchel.
3) Groen Kwartier
A restored 19th-century military hospital forms the hub of a new neighbourhood in the Berchem district. The hospital buildings have been turned into apartments while the former chapel is occupied by Sergio Herman’s stunning restaurant The Jane. A new hotel opened in the neighbourhood in early 2019 based in a former Augustinian convent. Restored by architect Vincent Van Duysen, the August has a cool minimalist look that preserves the original monastic calm.
The city’s latest landscaped park is too new to be marked on Google maps, but it’s not too hard to find. Just follow the river north until you come to the waterside site. Part of an ambitious 15-year plan to revitalise the Scheldt waterfront, the Droogdokkenpark (Dry Docks Park) is dotted with benches where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the spires of the old town, Het Eilandje and the Sint Anna beach on the opposite bank. Nearby, an abandoned industrial building has been turned into kids’ workshop Stormkop. The neighbourhood around here looks ripe for development, so enjoy the gritty industrial streetscape before it has vanished.
The renovation of the Eilandje quarter is pushing deeper into the old maritime zone. The newest developments are happening along the east side of the abandoned dock Kattendijkdok. Nikolaj Kovdal of Fiskebar has transformed an old customs building on the water’s edge into the hip Nordic fish restaurant Fiskeskur. And Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie – the brewers who launched local beer Seef – moved production in 2017 to the abandoned Noorderpershuis site near the waterfront. Here they have created a spacious tasting room, food counter and outdoor beer garden. Check online for piano recitals and DJ concerts held here.
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