Wenceslas de ‘t Serclaes
Antwerp, Deurne, Te Couwelaarlei 95
The building that is now used as a sports hall in Deurne is originally a pavilion of Expo 58 in Brussels. It was built by the Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede Gebroeders De Coene. They realized 28 (!) Projects on the exhibition grounds. This pavilion belonged to the Belgian Wood Industry, the non-profit organization Fabrihout 58. It consisted of two parts, a wooden prefab construction with exhibition space and spaces for administration and a bar. The other part was a hemisphere leaning against a wall, which was also used as an exhibition hall.
The municipality of Deurne bought the trusses from the exhibition pavilion after the expo. In 1959 architect Roger Groothaert set up the exhibition hall at Te Couwelaerlei in Deurne. The exhibition hall consists of one large room where you can play basketball and volleyball (and you can also rent it that way). Next to it is a building with changing rooms and also a caretaker’s house, built in 1960 – 1962 by architect Groothaert. The building was protected in 2009.
I myself have long been interested in De Coene’s work. At the beginning of this year I was allowed to participate in an exhibition about the art deco period in Schoten Castle. I also got to know the Expohal through brochures that I bought there. Coincidentally, the Expo Hall was open during the past Heritage Day and I was able to take several photos …
The construction of the hall consists of glulam trusses. Glulam is a contraction of glued laminated timber. It was a revolutionary system invented by De Coene in 1954 and was unique in Europe. The 11 frames are each 25.5 meters long and consist of red Norwegian pine. At a height of 11.5 meters, they come together in a semicircle that also contains zenital light. In the original pavilion, half of the sphere was covered with light-transmitting panels. Now the hall is covered with roofing and there is only light at the top.
This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.
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