Bridges over Mastvest in the tentoonstellingswijk
Bruggen Mastvest Antwerpen - titel

Bridges over Mastvest

Emiel Van Averbeke

Antwerp, Eric Sasselaan at Jan Baptist Verlooystraat +

at Onafhankelijkheidslaan

1928

Bridges Mastvest

I know these bridges already a long time … We parked here when we went to an event at Antwerp Expo. There are some parking spaces in this neighborhood. At that time I did not know that the neighborhood around it was also worth it. It is called the ‘Tentoonstellingswijk’ (exhibition district). The world exhibition of 1930 was held on these grounds.

Brialmontomwalling

In the mid-19th century a larger enclosure was built around Antwerp, the ‘Brialmontomwalling’. In 1906 it was already considered unuseful, but it took until 1963 for the complete demolition of this enclosure. They started with the construction of the Antwerp Ring and the Singel at this location. Only a few green domains and canals remind us of the wall that stood around Antwerp. The Mastvest used to be a moat for a ravelin. If you look at an aerial photo you can clearly see the military history of this water.

World exhibition

For the world exhibition of 1930, the area around this old ravelin was chosen. Antwerp had already had an international world exhibition twice before. In 1885 and 1894 these were both kept on the south. For the one of 1930, four areas were considered: around Jan Van Rijswijcklaan, Nachtegalenpark, Left Bank or in Merksem near the harbor. The provincial engineer Mennes preferred the Nachtegalenpark, but city architect Van Averbeke opted for the area around the Jan Van Rijswijcklaan. The floor plan of the exhibition park formed the basis for the urban development of the new exhibition district. This plan was also designed by Van Averebeke, but was further elaborated by Jos Smolderen.

Bridges with lights

The bridges were already intended as a permanent construction during the design. After the exhibition they would be part of the new neighborhood. That is why reinforced concrete and steel were used, in contrast to the pavilions that were mostly constructed from wood, plaster or imitation stone. The two identical bridges were erected in the style of the rest of the world exhibition: art deco. Van Averbeke was the figurehead of the Art Nouveau in Antwerp, just think of the Volkshuis and the fire station in Paleisstraat. Here he shows that he could also handle art deco and modernism. What was important in the design was the lighting. Electric lighting was a novelty and was promoted for private use. Van Averbeke has therefore designed monumental lighting fixtures. They were destroyed during the Second World War, but were reconstructed in 2009. Now you can enjoy the beautiful lighting on the bridges in the evening.

Bridges over Mastvest

 

Emiel Van Averbeke

Antwerp, Eric Sasselaan at Jan Baptist Verlooystraat + at Onafhankelijkheidslaan

1928

This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.

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