Kobelco crawler reconstructs iconic pier

Artes Group in Belgium chose a crawler crane to help with renovation work on Blankenberge’s iconic pier. ICST reports.

Renovation of the iconic walkway will see its complete demolition and reconstruction (Photo: Kobelco)

Stretching 350 metres into the often cold and inhospitable North Sea, the pleasure pier at Blankenberge in the Belgian province of West Flanders is being renovated with the help of a crawler crane.

Known as the Belgium Pier, it is being restored to its original Art Deco style after suffering for many years the ravages of coastal weather.

It was built in 1933 to capitalise on the boom in tourists attracted to the town’s long, sandy beaches. What is there now replaced the original cast iron pier of 1894 destroyed during the First World War.

Renovation of the vertical concrete core attached to an overhanging horizontal slab with promenade deck, will cost €10 million.

Restoring the Belgium Pier to its former Art Deco glory (Photo: Kobelco)
Unsafe structure

Repairs couldn’t come soon enough according to Sebastiaan Defoort, pier manager, “The structure suffers from concrete rot and is no longer safe. The entire structure is landmarked, so that means that it will be rebuilt authentically as it was in the interwar period. So, it should look just the same as it did in 1933.”

The 80 tonne capacity CKE800G-2 is one of eight Kobelco lattice boom crawler cranes in the Artes fleet (Photo: Kobelco)

Renovation of the iconic walkway will see its complete demolition and reconstruction. Artes Group is responsible for all the piling, concrete and restoration works. It began with a 1 metre high, sea-proof, U-shaped cofferdam erected around the whole structure.

The cofferdam uses 28 metre AZ42-700 type piles, driven 18 metres into the sandy beach. Artes used its 80 tonne capacity Kobelco CKE800G-2, one of eight Kobelco lattice boom crawler cranes in its fleet. The crane, bought in 2018, was fitted with a 2332VM vibratory hammer weighing 12 tonnes. It was rigged with 30.5 metres of main boom.

Reusing original components

The original cast iron piles from the first pier, dating from 1894, were used as the foundation for the new pier.

Reinforcement and concrete will be placed around the piles, forming a solid base for the superstructure. It is important, says Dries Hoste, Artes Group project manager, only stainless-steel reinforcement is used to enhance the slender, 1930s structure, while at the time ensuring it can withstand all weather.

“Restoration of this iconic structure has presented us with many challenges,” says Dries, “including harsh working conditions of sand, sea and salt air but we and our CKE800G-2 have weathered the storm, and I look forward to seeing Blankenberge’s Belgium Pier open again in all its glory.”


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