Richard Rogers e.o.
Antwerp, Bolivarplaats 20
1998 – 2006
Today a blog post about a, in my opinion, somewhat forgotten building in Antwerp. In 1998 a competition was launched for a new courthouse. The winner was world-famous Richard Rogers, in collaboration with VK Studio and Ove Arup & Partners. During the construction process, the building was in the news a lot, and not in a positive way. I think it’s a fantastic building. It is impressive, no one can deny it and is a wonderful final element for the ‘Leien’.
Zuid (the South)
The Spanish forced fortress, the citadel, stood on this spot. After the demolition of this, an impressive train station, the south station, arrived. It was built from 1894 to 1903. In 1965 it was demolished.
The architect had the idea of building the offices in the midst of greenery. So the rooms have natural daylight. The gardens were designed by landscape architect Wirtz and were originally intended for the public. Unfortunately, you can now only see through the glass to the gardens and you cannot enter. All for safety regulations.
If you compare this courthouse with the old courthouse in Antwerp or that of Brussels, it is light and transparent. The junction of the rows of offices, the meeting rooms and the street is a large light room with the name “Salle des Pas Perdus”. Here the same floor material was used as the stairs outside and the street lighting is also the same inside. They wanted a “more transparent” court system and the architecture supports this.
The most striking thing about this building are of course the glossy roofs. The stainless steel roofs house the 6 large and 26 small sitting rooms and bring in natural light. The wooden base covered with mineral wool and stainless steel plates was made in a workshop in Hoboken. They were transported by boat to the site and mounted with bolt and nut. For those interested among us, the form is a hyperbolic paraboloid …
This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.
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