The new Antwerp Port Authority headquarters will house approximately 500 staff, currently working in separate buildings, in a single new building that comprises a former Fire Station and the new extension.
The new Port House design consists of two entities: the existing Fire Station and a new crystalline volume lifted above the retained building. Together they form an impressive new landmark as the headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority, overlooking the city and port, and symbolizing Antwerp as a port of global importance and a major economic driver of region.
The design by Zaha Hadid Architects preserves as much as possible of the dignity of the present building as a monument, while adding a new object to the site.
Positioned asymmetrically over the central glazed courtyard of the existing Fire Station, the new extension allows light to enter the heart of the building. The extension is supported by three sculpted concrete pillars that house the stairs and lifts. Two of the pillars land on the ground within the courtyard, while the third lands outside the existing building and houses a panoramic lift shaft.
The building’s volume is enclosed by articulated surfaces that have a facade of glass and aluminum panels, reflecting the surroundings during the day and transforming into a radiating crystal at night. The panels do not all lie in the same plane but are rotated slightly with respect to one another, reflecting light from these facets – a reference to Antwerp’s diamond industry.
The new Port House forms part of a program of improvements to the Port Authority’s own buildings. In addition to various renovation and new construction work that has already been carried out, a public call for tender has been issued for the new VTS (Vehicle Traffic Service) building beside the Zandvliet lock.