The Pier in Blankenberge has been restored to its former glory since April 2023. The walkway between the principal building and the sea dike was in need of extensive renovation. For this renovation, in 2016, SBE, in collaboration with the architectural firm JUXTA, was appointed as the designer by the city of Blankenberge.
The very first Pier in Blankenberge was built in the 1890s and it featured a cast-iron main supporting structure. During WWI, the Pier was burnt down by the German occupiers who feared its use as a jetty by enemy troops.
The Blankenberge city council decided to purchase the Pier in 1928 and proceeded to rebuild it in the 1930s. The new design was entrusted to a partnership of J. Soete, conductor of Bridges and Roads, professor G. Magnel of Ghent and engineer-architect A. Bouquet. The Pier was rebuilt as a reinforced monolithic concrete structure, integrating the cast-iron columns of the original structure into new concrete columns.
The Pier had been suffering from the effects of extensive corrosion of the reinforcement steel in the concrete structure for years. These effects are a direct consequence of the location, which is partly in the sea and partly on the beach. Several techniques were employed in the past such as repairs with sprayed concrete, anti-corrosion treatment, integral replacement of parts, additional concrete pouring of the columns, and so forth, but to no avail.
After initial renovation of the concrete structure, the Pier’s access road and principle building were listed as a monument by ministerial decree in 2004.
The new design looks sleek and slim and there are only minimal differences from the original model. The entire gangway is provided in light gray concrete and finished with dark accents, similar to the original plans from the 1930s. The visible parts are done with plank formwork to emulate the original look. Where possible, the original cast-iron foundation piles from the 1890s were also reused.
To better protect the new concrete structure (1500 m³) against corrosion of the reinforcement steel, it was reinforced with stainless steel reinforcement instead of conventional reinforcement steel. This type of reinforcement material is less susceptible to corrosion and is therefore better protected against the aggressive conditions in which the Pier is located.
A dry construction pit was created around the Pier’s access road by means of a meter-high, sea-resistant, U-shaped cofferdam to allow the works to be carried out dry. This cofferdam also allowed for drainage to be performed in order to work on the deeper foundations.
The renovated pier in Blankenberge was opened to the general public on April 19, 2023, after which you could walk along this iconic road again. Finally, in June, the U-shaped cofferdam with sheet piles were removed, leaving the pier to stand resplendent again, as it did during the Interwar period.
The icing on the cake is that the Blankenberge Pier also won the FEBE Elements Awards for ‘Outstanding Precast’ in 2023. A professional jury chose this project as the winner based on its use of precast concrete elements.
The complete construction of the Blankenberge Pier is made of concrete, with a strong emphasis on maximizing prefabricated elements, such as foundation beams, cross beams for the superstructure, windbreaks, benches and railings.
This strategy allowed the contractor to work in more controlled conditions and save time. Despite this modern approach, however, no trace of prefabricated elements could be left visible in order to maintain the authentic allure of the 1930s. All prefabricated elements were therefore connected to the rest of the structure on site by wet nodes, which resulted in a uniform and seamless whole.
SBE is acting as the consulting engineer for the restoration of the Pier access road:
From Antwerp to India, SBE is taking steps in progress and innovation all over the world. Below you will find a selection of our most recent projects.
Curious about what is happening within SBE? Or in which projects we are involved? Through these newsitems we will keep you informed about our projects and the ins and outs within SBE.
Do not hesitate to contact us, we are happy to help you!