Antwerp, the dynamic centre of the Eastern Flanders, is Belgium’ second city and it boasts a historic port and, as I’ve learnt during my stay, it’s the country’s capital of diamond trading. Apparently it’s even one of the coolest fashion and clubbing centres in Europe.
Something I didn’t know before considering to visit it regards the city’s name. It seems to be different in almost any language. You call it Antwerpen in Dutch and Antwerp in English – which are still quite the same – but then there’s a latin translation so that you say Anvers in French and Anversa in Italian. The latter is how I knew this city was called so when I heard of Antwerp I had no idea they were actually the same city.
So we said Antwerp is a port city and its port area is massive. Antwerp port is the world’s fourth largest port complex and in Europe it’s second only after Rotterdam. As you may imagine, it’s a maze of cranes, docks, loading yards, warehouses, rail-lines ans so on.
It’s from here that I started exploring the city and I organised this architecture city guide.
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PORT HOUSE |ZAHA HADID|
The new headquarters for the Antwerp Port Authority. Of course you cannot miss this. It won’t probably be at the top of Tripadvisor suggestions but it is on my personal guide. Not only for the building itself but because reaching it will force you to traverse the port of Antwerp.
Zaha Hadidplein 1, 2030 Antwerp
You can have a more in-depth look at the Port House here
Parkbrug is a pedestrian and cyclists bridge that connects Park Spoor Noord with Eilandje, two areas in the north of Antwerp which were disconnected from each other. The bridge is an outstanding gateway to the north of the city.
Italiëlei 9, 2000 Antwerpen
MAS – Museum aan de Stroom |NEUTELINGS RIEDIJK ARCHITECTS|
A towering dockside museum built of red sandstone and waving perspex. Such a great contrast that the conjunction of these material creates in the facades. Strategically placed as a connecting point sitting in a dockside area between the city centre and the port.
Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerpen
You can have a more in-depth look here
ANTWERPEN CENTRAAL STATION
Antwerp Central Railway Station is the city’s main railway station. In 2014, the station was even awarded by the British-American magazine Mashable as most beautiful railway station in the world. And it really is! It has such an eclectic style, you could describe it mostly as a Neo-Renaissance architecture but then you can spot some Art Nouveau decorative motifs and ornaments.
Designed by Louis Delacenserie.
Reconstruction works by Jacques Voncke.
SQUARE STADSSCHOUWBURG ANTWERPEN
Redevelopment of Antwerp’s theatre-square market with a new canopy structure. A large porch in front of the theatre’s brutalist façade that covers almost the entire square providing a shelter for events or the weekend market. The canopy consists of translucent plaques that offer protection from the rain while also letting the light through. Plus don’t miss the fire escape stairs of the theatre.
Nieuwstad 1, 2000 Antwerpen
COURT OF JUSTICE |RICHARD ROGERS|
What you will notice from a distance is the striking and pointy roof structure rising above the crystalline roofs that cover the court rooms. The building attracts attention by the sharp shapes on the roof, covered in silver stainless steel sheets. Highly transparent public spaces are a response to the initial brief to make the workings of justice more transparent.
Bolivarplaats 20, 2000 Antwerpen
Places I haven’t personally been (shamefully!) but worth going.
ST. ANNA’S TUNNEL
A unique pedestrian passageway under the riverbed.
Sint-Annatunnel, 2000 Antwerpen
THE JANE |PIET BON|
The chapel of a former military hospital turned into a a high-end, contemporary restaurant.
Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerpen
- DEN BELL TOWER
Interesting tower but more important stunning staircase!
Francis Wellesplein 1, 2018 Antwerpen
UMICORE BUILDING |CONIX ARCHITECTS|
A bit outside from Antwerp’s city center but still worth going to admire this folding facade.
Adolf Greinerstraat 14, 2660 Antwerpen