City Hall Antwerp
Restoration and Renovation of the City Hall in Antwerp into a contemporary 'House of Government'
Grote Markt 1 2000 Antwerpen
Style Floris (North-European Renaissance)
Year of construction
Cornelis Floris and others
Temporary association ‘Maatschap Huis van de Stad’: HUB (architecture) Bureau Bouwtechniek (architecture) Origin (restauration)
The City Hall was built in 1565 in the Floris style, which was strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Many decorations date back to the 17th and 18th century, but the most significant changes were made in the 19th century. The construction of the stained-glass dome above the inner courtyard in 1884 and the subsequent alterations to the interior represent today the most visible historical layer of the building. The fact that the building has been used as a town hall since 1565 gives the interior a great intangible value.
The common thread throughout the history of the Town Hall is the expression of the power of the city. This context of urban representation encouraged the use of the Floris style in the 16th century and the neo-Flemish Renaissance style in the 19th century. The current project intends to add a new, equal layer to the building within this framework.
The restoration starts from a great appreciation of the 'layered coherence' of the building. The various interventions carried out in the past form a harmonious entity that we want to respect. The condition of the building in 1884, after the addition of the stained-glass dome by Pieter Dens, represents the baseline. Wherever inferior interventions have been carried out (due to the choice of materials, limited execution quality, etc.) we take the opportunity to carry out improvements. For the façades, we focus on the damage recovery to restore the austere Renaissance aesthetic.
A few years ago, the idea arose to revalue Antwerp City Hall as the center of municipal power. All the cabinets, then scattered over different buildings, would be brought back together in the City Hall. The iconic exterior and the valuable interiors would also be restored.
The gates on the ground floor are literally wide-opened and the original public, commercial function of the rooms behind is brought back. The quality of this level is restored by bringing back the initial rhythm of the deep spaces with barrel vaults.
The remarkable decors, on the Fine Floor and the First Floor, will be respectfully restored. Our philosophy is based on a great appreciation of what we call the "layered coherence" of the building: the sum of the interventions that the building has known in the course of time forms a harmonious ensemble, which we respect as such (in this, the very characteristic result of the 1884 campaign provides a "baseline").
A common thread in the history of the Town Hall is the expression of the power of the city. Municipal representation was in the 16th century generally expressed in the Floris style and in the 19th century in the neo-Flemish Renaissance style. Today, the project adds a new layer within this framework.
The second floor, empty and not decorated, will be furnished with cabinets. Just like the Fine Floor, it will have two 'vestibules': double-height roof volumes that allow for generous amounts of light. The 'Enlightened Floor' thus acquires a new but different kind of representativeness which was created on the other floors by the rich neo-classical interiors. Just like on the other floors, a special place is given to art with a work by Germaine Kruip above the lower 19th century dome.
The association "House of the City" consists of seven partners. All disciplines (renovation, restoration, stability, techniques, building physics, acoustics, fire safety) are involved from the start in order to achieve optimal integration. Subsequently, a specific project was realised, tailored to the monument, that improves its functionality and extends the buildings life span. This functionality, which has lasted for more than 450 years, is a major asset and almost unique in the world.
Finally, the client's ambition is to obtain a BREEAM certificate for his building after its completion. This certificate is given to buildings that are devoted to being 'sustainable'. Sustainability is a broad concept: it ranges from limiting the energy demand, to a healthy climate for the users, to strengthening the ecological environment by, for example, the targeted installation of bee houses in the attic.
Please do not hesitate to contact us. Someone from the Origin team will be happy to answer your questions.