zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom

zaha hadid architects has inaugurated the new port house in antwerp, which repurposes a derelict fire station as a new headquarters for the district. the project brings together the port’s 500 staff that previously worked in separate buildings around the city. the architecture takes the form of an elevated extension, designed to ‘float’ above the existing building. shaped like the bow of a ship, the new structure points towards the scheldt river, with a faceted glazed façade that reflects the changing tones and colors of the city’s sky.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
the scheme repurposes a derelict fire station as a new headquarters for the district
image © hufton+crow (also main image)

 

 

following the construction of a new fire station, the old facility became redundant and relied on a change of use to ensure its preservation. consequently, this disused fire house had to be integrated into the new project. the flemish government’s department of architecture, together with the city and port authorities, organized the architectural competition for the new headquarters. zaha hadid architects’ design is informed by historical research and analysis of both the site and the existing building.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
the project brings together staff that previously worked in separate buildings around the city
image © hufton+crow

 

 

rather than concealing the existing façades, the design team built upwards — a particularly appropriate solution considering the existing building was originally intended to be a tower. surrounded by water, the new façade is a glazed surface with triangular facets that allow the apparently smooth curves at either end of the building to be formed with flat sheets of glass.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
the elevated extension is designed to ‘float’ above the existing building
image © hufton+crow

 

 

while most of the triangular facets are transparent, some are opaque. this combination means that the architects were able to control the amount of sunlight entering the building. simultaneously, the alternation of transparent and opaque panels breaks down the volume of the new extension, giving panoramic views of the scheldt, the city and the port. the building’s appearance reinterprets antwerp’s reputation as the ‘city of diamonds’ with a carefully cut form that changes its appearance throughout the day.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
optimal daylight controls minimize artificial lighting
image © hufton+crow

 

 

the central courtyard has been enclosed with a glass roof, providing visitors access the historic public reading room and library within the restored and preserved fire truck hall. panoramic lifts provide direct access to the new extension with an external bridge between the existing building and new structure affording views of both the city and the port.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
the extension affords panoramic views of both the city and the port
image © hufton+crow

 

 

despite the challenges of integrating with a protected historic building, sustainable design strategies include a borehole energy system that pumps water to a depth of 80m below grade in over 100 locations around the building to provide heating and cooling. waterless lavatory fittings and motion detectors minimize water consumption while building automation and optimal daylight controls minimize artificial lighting.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
the brief called for an ‘activity based office’ with related areas grouped together
image © tim fisher

 

 

the waterside site offered significant sustainable construction benefits, allowing materials and building components to be transported by water — an important requirement to meet the port’s ecological targets. the brief called for an ‘activity based office’ with related areas such as the restaurant, meeting rooms and auditorium located at the center of the upper levels of the existing building and the bottom floors of the new extension. the remaining storeys, more remote from the center, comprise open plan offices.

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
a faceted glazed façade reflects the changing tones and colors of the city’s sky.
image © tim fisher

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
while most of the triangular facets are transparent, some are opaque
image © hélène binet

zaha hadid architects port house antwerp belgium designboom
surrounded by water, the new façade is a glazed surface that filters natural light
image © hélène binet

 

 

project info:

 

total floor area: 12,800 square meters, (6,600 square meters in the refurbished fire station), (6,200 square meters in the new extension)
new extension: 111 meters length, 24 meters width, 21 meters height
existing fire station: 63 meters length, 78.5 meters width, 21.5 meters height
total height (existing building + new extension): 46 meters (5 additional floors)
site area: 16,400 square meters — 90-seat auditorium, 190 bicycle parking spaces, 25 parking spaces for electric cars

 

project team:
architect: zaha hadid architects (ZHA)
design: zaha hadid and patrik schumacher
ZHA project director: joris pauwels
ZHA project architect: jinmi lee
ZHA project team: florian goscheff, monica noguero, kristof crolla, naomi fritz, sandra riess, muriel boselli, susanne lettau
ZHA competition team: kristof crolla, sebastien delagrange, paulo flores, jimena araiza, sofia daniilidou, andres schenker, evan erlebacher, lulu aldihani

 

consultants:
executive architect: bureau bouwtechniek
structural engineers: studieburo mouton bvba
services engineers: ingenium nv
acoustic engineers: daidalos peutz
restoration consultants: origin
fire protection: fpc

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