Today the construction site of the new Port House of Antwerp was open for visitors. I was one of the lucky ones to explore the site, almost 2 years before it will be the new landmark for Antwerp. One of my favorite architects, Zaha Hadid, designed this beautiful ship in the sky.
The ‘ship’ that will be build on top of the old fire station will be an eye catcher in the Antwerp sky line for sure. It’s a celebration of two of its industries: diamonds and port activity.
Now, still a construction site, but in two years time Zaha Hadid’s ship will rise:
In 2010, the original Port House looked like this:
The central tower has been removed and in front of the house lies now a giant dig hole where the concrete bearer of the ‘ship’ will be raised:
The inside of the old fire station is now stripped completely. All electricity and facilities are removed. Also brick walls have been cut out:
These pipes are silent witnesses of times past and now small works of art:
The stairs are carefully wrapped in wooden castings to protect them from harm by all those rough workers who are taking over the building. Banisters and original floor tiles will be preserved and renovated so the link with history is kept:
I’m really looking forward to next year, when the giant steel construction will be visible. I hope the builders can keep to their time schedule. Since in 2009 the new Port House was announced to be finalised in 2013 (source — in Dutch).
In December, 22nd 2012 the city of Ostend opened the new cultural center CC De Grote Post (The Great Post). It is located in a building designed by Gaston Eysselinck, a young modernist architect that only designed one public building.
De Grote Post was constructed in 1953 and was listed as a protected monument in 1981. It took a long time before renovations started. Last week I visited the site. I treated myself to a circus performance so I could also get into one of the auditoriums.
And was I impressed? To be honest: no. I’m sure it all looked wonderful during the opening weekend and when the camera crews came to visit. But a few months later, it looked like a construction site where the workers just had left. The concrete stairs were covered with dust, some even a bit loose. Maybe it was because the sun was hiding behind the clouds? Or maybe my expectations were set to high?
What I do know is that the site has potential, it must be great to watch a movie under the moonlit sky while seated at the courtyard. I can imagine going to an evening performance and entering the ticket hall filled with light and people all buzzing about and anxious to be dazzled. I only hope that the city of Ostend is willing to invest in it so it can become more than it’s architect ever imagined.
Street address Hendrik Serruyslaan 18 a 8400 Oostende (Belgium)