Architect Zaha Hadid’s Antwerp Port House, officially
opened this week, integrates modern design with the city’s history as a
pioneer global trading hub and diamond center. Made of 2,000 triangular
glass panels, it cost 55 million euros ($62 million).
During construction, some Antwerpers saw a ship or a
diamond emerging from the brick-built old dockside fire station upon
which the Iraqi-born Briton, who died in March, built the new structure,
said Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx.
“Leave it to the imagination of people,” said
Bruyninckx, whose staff will work in the new building overlooking the
“Be it a diamond, be it a ship, we are happy to live in it.”
The port authority chose a spot between the port and
city center for its new headquarters, where 500 employees will work.
Ranked second in Europe behind the neighboring Dutch Rhine Delta city of
Rotterdam, the Belgian port is growing fast.
Just months before completion, Hadid died suddenly at
65. The Port House adds to her legacy of eye-catching buildings around
the world, including the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the London
Aquatics Centre built for the 2012 Olympics.
Project manager Joris Pauwels said Hadid was adamant
about preserving the fire station. The original square building did not
have a main facade, so the architects decided to layer the addition on
top of the structure to avoid obscuring the front.
Concrete pillars and 900 tonnes of steel hold the glass
workspace above the fire station, Pauwels said. A bridge level joins
the two structures and gives employees a 360-degree view of the port and
public square below.
After her death, the city council amended its street plan to rename it Zaha Hadidplein or Zaha Hadid Square.