The Stuivenberg Plan, so named by the city and the district by the client AG Vespa and by the Hospital Network Antwerp (ZNA), is very extensive and will not be completed until the 2030s. “But we want to quickly show that we are serious about the starting point,” says Alderman Annick De Ridder of Urban Development: “We don’t just want to take action, such as the Quays of the Groen Kwartier of the Lobroekdok in Merksem. , we also want to give something back to the community. That is why we are opening the gardens to the public.”
“And that is already possible in a first phase”, alderman for Wonen and Groens van Doesburg admitted. “After the demolition of the redundant buildings on the side of the Pesthofstraat, an open space will be created that we can make greener. With a varied mix of shapes and colors of trees and shrubs, we want to ensure that the garden remains green not only in spring and autumn, but all year round and is a pleasure to walk around in. If Covid has taught us anything, it’s the importance of green spaces. And they are not sufficiently present in this case.”
That also means that the whole site will have a different look. Now it looks like a walled fortress here and there. Without walls, the accessibility of the site is visible from afar.
Fences around the site are certainly unavoidable as the park wants to end in the evening and part of the hospital remains on the old site. For example, the ZNA Psychiatric Hospital will remain at the same location. And there will be room for the BH05 nursing training (higher vocational education graduate courses). The Zorglab of the Municipal Education will also be housed here, in addition to space for youth work, a children’s residence, a social dental practice and the House of the Child. (Child and Family).
If we look beyond 2023, the original site of the Stuivenberg complex will become visible again. The literal buildings that land to connect the round pavilions will disappear. The outbuildings built like crescent moons against the round pavilions will also be demolished.
In the current hospital, all buildings are connected by a long corridor. But when the complex was built, all the round pavilions were separate from each other. These were connected by outdoor corridors in the open air. “The design wants to realize this again by means of an elongated image team, which gives access to the buildings,” said Alderman Els van Doesburg. “At the same time, this rue exteriore, as the designers call it, shelter from rain or heat. You can also see a similar gallery in the Groen Kwartier.”
“There you literally see streets in the quarter. Tackled from facade to facade on Boerhaavestraat and Pesthofstraat,” Alderman Annick De Ridder concludes. “The renovation of the Pothoekstraat will be aligned with the entrance to the Psychiatric Hospital.”
Who does that contain?
A Flemish-Dutch, multidisciplinary team of architects and garden and landscape architects has been appointed for the redevelopment of the Stuivenberg site. Bovenbouw Architects from Antwerp and Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architects from Rotterdam have a lot of experience in the repurposing of monumental buildings. BOOM Landscape from Amsterdam specializes in urban planning, garden and landscape designs and the design of outdoor spaces. Architectural firm Sabine Okkerse from Oudenaarde is recognized in heritage and restoration.
The Stuivenberg hospital is not protected, but since 2019 the site, which covers more than five hectares (52,049m²), developed as valuable architectural heritage.
That unique design from 1872-1873 came from architect François Baeckelmans. The new hospital was built because the capacity of the Sint-Elisabethgasthuis in the Lange Gasthuisstraat had not been sufficient for years. Baeckelmans’ choice for round infirmary pavilions with a view to isolation was unique.
The Stuivenberggasthuis was solemnly inaugurated on Monday, October 6, 1884, and the first patient passed on January 2, 1885. Until the First World War, the hospital already had an extra operating room and three new hospital wards. The most important extension was the Storage House for the mentally ill, with a men’s, a women’s and a seclusion pavilion. This was followed by two TBC pavilions, among others. Between the two wars, another building for the decontamination service was added.
Between 1946 and 1955 a number of buildings were demolished for the construction of the Vocational School for Nursing. Between 1979 and 1992, the renovated Stuivenberg General Hospital was built, as well as a new building for psychiatry.
The Stuivenberggasthuis was a progressive model for 19th-century hospital construction, with its central service buildings and eight radially implanted round hospital pavilions surrounded by a circle. Twenty beds were placed radially in the round hospital wards.
Due to the major changes between 1951 and 1992, many buildings were removed. The main building with flanking official residences, the main building with later extensions. Of the eight infirmary pavilions, only the round main building with the infirmaries is intact.