When I went to the opening of the temporary exhibition in the Red Star Line Museum (see the previous article) I passed the new building of the Antwerp Port Authority. In fact it consists of two buildings: the old and the new one, one on top of the other, rather unusually. Although a lot of people don’t like the architecture, I love it (but I’m not a reference since I mostly don’t know what is ugly and what is beautiful except for landscapes and women). Especially when it’s dark it creates a wonderful effect, as you can see here.
The Port House is the head office of the Antwerp Port Authority. The office building is at the Zaha Hadidplein 1, which has been named after architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who died unexpectedly a couple of months before completion of the building. It is an architectural masterpiece, befitting an international port such as Antwerp.
This headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority is without a doubt one of the eye-catchers of the Antwerp skyline. Inside, the building is also breathtaking thanks to a fascinating line pattern on every floor, and dazzling panoramic views. The Port House symbolizes the dynamic and innovative nature of the Port of Antwerp . The building is the workplace of 500 employees and a meeting place for the many international contacts of the Antwerp port community.
Zaha Hadid Architects faced a particularly complex challenge. The old fire station on the site, a protected replica of a former Hanseatic house had to be integrated in the new project. The result consists of two entwined main volumes. A dynamic beam-shaped volume rises above the existing building and in a visual sense reinforces the former fire station, now a component of the new constellation. An external bridge integrates the existing building with the new expansion.
The expansion has a glass-covered façade which shimmers like waves and thus reflects the complex interaction of shades and colors in the air. This is a referral to the building's exceptional location surrounded by water. The perception of a cut glass mass to give the new building a sparkling appearance refers to Antwerp, the diamond city.
The 500 employees of the Port Authority who work at the Zaha Hadidplein will use this time ‘flexibly’. This means they will swap their fixed workplaces for mobile workplaces. Moreover, they can swap desk depending on the nature of the activity: telephone, concentrated work or meetings.