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Port House, Antwerp wins World Architecture Community Award and shortlisted for ‘World Building of the Year’

The World Architecture Community Awards recognise remarkable projects that inspire exciting questions about contemporary architectural discourse. The World Building of the Year will be awarded at the 2017 World Architecture Festival, 15-17 November in Berlin.

The new Port House in Antwerp repurposes, renovates and extends a derelict fire station into a new headquarters for the port. Antwerp is Europe’s second busiest shipping port, handling 26% of the continent’s container shipping via 15,000 sea trade ships and 60,000 inland barges each year – with ambitious targets for future expansion over the next century.

An abandoned fire station on the site, a replica of a Hanseatic residence, relied on a change of use to ensure its preservation. This disused fire station has been integrated into the new Port House headquarters.

Working with heritage consultants Origin, ZHA’s studies of the site’s history are the foundations of the design as an elevated extension, rather than a neighbouring volume which would have concealed one of the existing facades. Historic analysis of the old fire station also noted its unrealised tower, a bold vertical statement intended to crown the imposing volume of the building below.

The Port House is a composition of a new volume that ‘floats’ above the old building, respecting 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 and river on which it was founded.

Surrounded by water, the triangular facets of the new extension ripple like waves and reinterpret Antwerp’s moniker as the city of diamonds.

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

Photo © Hélène Binet

World Architecture Community

World Architecture Festival