Last edited 12 Nov 2020

Port House, Antwerp

Port House4.jpg

(Image copyright Hufton + Crow)

In September 2016, the new Port House in Antwerp was completed.

Based on designs unveiled by the late Zaha Hadid in 2009, the scheme has repurposed, renovated and extended a derelict fire station to create a new headquarters for the port, which handles 26% of Europe’s container shipping and employs more than 8,000 people.

As part of the plans for the port's ambitious expansion, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) proposed a new volume that would appear to float above the disused fire station, preserving the existing facades.

Port House1.jpg

(Image copyright Hufton + Crow)

The huge, faceted glass volume, measuring more than 100 m in length, ripples like waves and reflects the changing tones and colours of the city’s sky. The triangular panels facilitate a transition from flat façade at the south end to a rippling three-dimensional surface at the north.

A tapered concrete leg supports one end of the glazed structure that overhangs the original dormer roof.

Port House2.jpg

(Image copyright Hufton + Crow)

The mix of opaque and transparent facets ensures sufficient natural light enters the building, but also limits solar gain to optimise comfort. The idea was to provide the volume with a sparkling appearance, making reference to Antwerp’s reputation as the ‘city of diamonds’.

The central courtyard of the old fire station has been enclosed by a glass roof, and transformed into the new Port House’s main reception area. Panoramic views of the city are provided by an external bridge between the existing building and new extension.

Port House5.jpg

(Image copyright Tim Fisher)

Despite the challenges presented by integration with a protected historic building, ZHA collaborated with services consultant Ingenium, to develop a sustainable and energy efficient design reaching a ‘Very GoodBREEAM environmental rating.

A borehole energy system pumps water to a depth of 80m in more than 100 locations around the building to provide heating and cooling. In the existing building, this system uses chilled beams. In the new extension, it uses chilled ceilings. Water-less lavatory fittings and motion detectors minimise water consumption while building automation and optimal daylight controls minimise artificial lighting.

ZHA said that ‘like the bow of a ship, the new extension points towards the Scheldt, connecting the building with the river on which Antwerp was founded.’

Content and images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

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