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Port House, Antwerp wins Blueprint Award

Port House, Antwerp by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has won a Blueprint Award. Celebrating the year’s best architecture and design from around the world, Blueprint named the Port House year’s Best Non-Public Project for a commercial client.

The new Port House in Antwerp repurposes, renovates and extends a derelict fire station into a new headquarters, connecting the city with the vital activities of its port.

With 12 km of docks handling 26% of Europe’s container shipping, Antwerp is the continent’s second largest port with ambitious targets for future expansion to meet Europe’s growth and development over the next century.
 
The disused fire station – a replica of a Hanseatic residence – relied on a change of use to ensure its preservation. Zaha Hadid Architects’ design is informed by detailed historical research and thorough analysis of both the site and the existing building.

Working with heritage consultants Origin, ZHA’s historic analysis of the fire station revealed its unrealised tower. Port House is a composition of a new volume that ‘floats’ above the old building, respecting the each of the existing facades and completing the verticality of the original design’s unrealised tower. The new extension points towards the city, connecting Antwerp with the port on which it was founded.

Surrounded by water, the new extension’s façade is a glazed surface that ripples like waves and reflects the changing tones and colours of the city’s sky. This perception of a transparent volume, cut to give the new building its sparkling appearance, reinterprets Antwerp’s moniker as the city of diamonds.

With constant references to the River Scheldt, the city of Antwerp and the dynamics of its port, married with the successful renovation and reuse of a redundant fire station – wholly integrating it as part of its headquarters – the new Port House will serve the port well through its planned expansion over future generations.

Marc Van Peel, president of the Port of Antwerp said: “The architectural style of the original building, a replica of the former Hansa House, recalls the 16th century, Antwerp’s “golden century.” But now above this original, a contemporary structure in shining glass has been built, which I am sure, represents a new golden century for Antwerp.”

The 2017 Blueprint Awards also highly commended ZHA’s Salerno Maritime Terminal  in the Best Public Use Building category and nominated the Zaha Hadid Design’s Cove Kitchen for Boffi in the Best Product Design category.

Photo by boriann.be