BREEAM International New Construction 2013 Very Good
The new Port House in Antwerp repurposes, renovates and extends a derelict fire station into a new headquarters for the port – bringing together the port’s 500 staff that previously worked in separate buildings around the city.
With 12 km of docks, Antwerp is Europe’s second largest shipping port, serving 15,000 sea trade ships and 60,000 inland barges each year.
In 2007, when the former 1990s offices of the Port of Antwerp had become too small, the port determined that relocation would enable its technical and administrative services to be housed together, providing new accommodation for about 500 staff. The port required a sustainable and future-proof workplace for its employees, representing its ethos and values in an ever-expanding local and international arena.
As the threshold between the city and its vast port, Mexico Island in Antwerp’s Kattendijk dock on Quay 63 was selected as the site for the new head office. The waterside site also offered significant sustainable construction benefits, allowing materials and building components to be transported by water, an important requirement to meet the port’s ecological targets.
Zaha Hadid Architects' design is informed by detailed historical research and a thorough analysis of both the site and the existing building.
Working with Origin, leading heritage consultants in the restoration and renovation of historic monuments, ZHA’s studies of the site’s history and heritage are the foundations of the design which firstly emphasises the north-south site axis parallel with the Kattendijkdok linking the city centre to the port. Secondly, due to its location surrounded by water, the building's four elevations are considered of equal importance with no principal facade. ZHA’s design is an elevated extension, rather than a neighbouring volume which would have concealed at least one of the existing facades. ZHA and Origin’s historic analysis of the old fire station also highlighted the role of its originally intended tower - a grand, imposing component of the fire station's Hanseatic design. Its bold vertical statement, intended to crown the imposing volume of the building below, was never realised.
These three key principles define the design’s composition of new and old: a new volume that ‘floats’ above the old building, respecting each of the old facades and completing the verticality of the original design’s unrealised tower.
Like the bow of a ship, the new extension points towards the Scheldt, connecting the building with the river on which Antwerp was founded.
Surrounded by water, the new extension's façade is a glazed surface that ripples like waves and reflects the changing tones and colours of the city’s sky. Triangular facets allow the apparently smooth curves at either end of the building to be formed with flat sheets of glass. They also facilitate the gradual transition from a flat façade at the south end of the building to a rippling surface at the north.
While most of the triangular facets are transparent, some are opaque. This calibrated mix ensures sufficient sunlight within the building, while also controlling solar load to guarantee optimal working conditions. At the same time, the alternation of transparent and opaque facade panels breaks down the volume of the new extension, giving panoramic views of the Scheldt, the city and the Port as well as providing enclosure.
The façade’s rippling quality is generated with flat facets to the south that gradually become more three-dimensional towards to the north. This perception of a transparent volume, cut to give the new building its sparkling appearance, reinterprets Antwerp’s moniker as the city of diamonds. The new extension appears as a carefully cut form which changes its appearance with the shifting intensity of daylight. Like the ripples on the surface of the water in the surrounding port, the new façade reflects changing light conditions.
The old fire station’s central courtyard has been enclosed with a glass roof and is transformed into the main reception area for the new Port House. From this central atrium, visitors access the historic public reading room and library within the disused fire truck hall which has been carefully restored and preserved. Panoramic lifts provide direct access to the new extension with an external bridge between the existing building and new extension giving panoramic views of the city and port.
The client requirements for an ‘activity based office’ are integrated within the design, with related areas such as the restaurant, meeting rooms and auditorium located at the centre of the upper levels of the existing building and the bottom floors of the new extension. The remaining floors more remote from the centre, comprise open plan offices.
Innovative cooling system
High efficient façade
Water-saving sanitary appliances
Low-emitting materials and finishes
Ground Source Heat Pump
Collaborating with services consultant Ingenium, ZHA developed a sustainable and energy-efficient design reaching a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM environmental rating.
Despite the challenges of integrating with a protected historic building, high standards in sustainable design were achieved by implementing effective strategies at each stage of construction.
A borehole energy system pumps water to a depth of 80m below grade in over 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.
Waterless lavatory fittings and motion detectors minimise water consumption while building automation and optimal daylight controls minimise artificial lighting.
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Port of Antwerp
Zaha Hadid Architects , Zaha Hadid , Patrik Schumacher , Joris Pauwels , Jinmi Lee , Florian Goscheff , Monica Noguero , Kristof Crolla , Naomi Fritz , Sandra Riess , Muriel Boselli , Susanne Lettau , Sebastien Delagrange , Jimena Araiza , Paulo Flores , Sofia Daniilidou , Andres Schenker , Evan Erlebacher , Lulu Aldihani , Bureau Bouwtechniek
Building services engineer:
Green certification consultant:
Studieburo Mouton Bvba
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