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Port House, Antwerp shortlisted for London Design Museum’s 2017 Beazley 'Designs of the Year'

Following awards from the World Architecture Community and nomination for the World Architecture Festival’s ‘Building of the Year’, Port House in Antwerp has been shortlisted for the Beazley 'Designs of the Year' by London’s Design Museum.

The 2017 Beazley 'Designs of the Year' nominations span a wide spectrum of disciplines, including architecture, graphics, product design, fashion, transport and digital.

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 defined the new 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 revealed its unrealised tower, a bold vertical statement intended to crown the imposing volume of the building below.

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 the abandoned fire station, the new headquarters will serve the port well through its planned expansion over future generations.

All nominated Beazley 'Designs of the Year' will be exhibited at the Design Museum, London from 18 October – with winners announced in January 2018. The annual award is now in its tenth year, and has previously honoured designs such as David Bowie’s Black Star album by Jonathan Barnbrook the Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Described by the 2014 jury as ‘a masterwork of invention and execution’, the Heydar Aliyev Centre was built on the site of a former Soviet munitions factory in Baku. The centre’s design breaks from the rigid and often monumental Soviet architecture that is so prevalent in the city. It’s fluid, open forms engage with Azeri culture by an act of attraction rather than imposition.

Since opening, the Heydar Aliyev Centre has hosted a wide variety of international exhibitions by artists such as Andy Warhol, Tony Cragg, Bernard Buffet, as well as performances of opera by Alessandro Safina, jazz by Deedee Bridgewater and violin by Itzhak Perlman. In October 2016, Pope Francis hosted multi-faith religious leaders in the centre.

Photo by Hélène Binet


the Design Museum