Port House by Zaha Hadid, Antwerp
She may no longer be with us but that doesn’t mean that Zaha Hadid’s architectural legacy doesn’t live on. And one of the first projects to be completed by Zaha Hadid Architects since her death is this stunning Port House in Antwerp, Belgium.
The new Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects repurposes a derelict fire station as the new HQ for the Antwerp district. The new structure will home over 500 members of staff that previously worked in separate buildings dotted around the city.
Taking the form of an elevated extension, the project has been designed to ‘float’ above the existing old fire station. Paying reference to the port’s heritage, the new extension is shaped like the bow of a ship with the structure pointing towards the River Scheldt. The faceted glass façade is said to reflect the changing tones and colours of the city’s sky.
A new fire station was built in Antwerp to reflect the demands of the major city. As a result, a competition was organised by the Flemish government’s Department of Architecture alongside the port authorities to give the old building a face lift.
Rather than concealing the existing building, Zaha Hadid’s design team built upwards on the Port House as the existing building was allegedly originally intended to be a tower. Offering stunning panoramic views of the Scheldt, the city and the port, the building is said to reinterpret Antwerp’s nickname as the ‘City of Diamonds’.
Located next to the water, most of the triangular glass panels of the exterior are transparent, with some opaque facets thrown in to control the amount of sunlight entering the building, which will be used as an ‘activity based office’ – think restaurants and libraries as well as meeting rooms!
Despite integrating a protected historic building into the design, there are some features incorporated to ensure sustainability in the Port House. A borehole energy system has been implemented, for example, which pumps water to a depth of 80m below to provide heating and cooling. There are also waterless toilets and motion detectors on the taps to minimise water consumption.
Images by Hufton+Crow & Hélène Binet.