Cultural Centres Antwerp
renovation & extension of cultural centres
In Antwerp, nearly every district has its own cultural centre. The centres are widely diverse, exhibiting very little unity in programme, infrastructure, and identity. The city wanted to gather the centres under a single flag. It made use of the Open Call of the Flemish Government Architect to draw up a ‘master plan to design the infrastructure of the Antwerp Cultural Centres’. The winning design proposal submitted by POLO Architects was more ambitious than the call dictated. The problem of fragmentation cannot be solved with brisk shapes or the creation of a corporate identity. POLO Architects opted for a bolder, more spatially oriented approach.
Culture must reach the entire city. The master plan identifies the key needs and detects the blind spots on the map. The building of new cultural centres and the continuing development and support of existing centres are determined.
The infrastructure needs to be redesigned and optimized so it doesn’t only benefit the cultural centres but the entire neighbourhood, the district, and the immediate environment as well. Every cultural centre has a meeting place; a catalyst for the ambiance; a cafe accessible to everyone.
A strong identity and visual recognition are needed to mark the presence of the cultural centres.
The masterplan distinguishes three archetypes of cultural centres. There are the 19th-century ‘castles’, the generally modernist ‘cultural institutes’ from the second half of the 20th century, and the more informal ad hoc infrastructures, such as former school buildings with all sorts of additions and expansions. Each of the archetypes requires a different solution. Four cultural centres have been addressed at this point.
Five cultural centres have since been addressed; Nova Cultural Centre in the Kiel neighborhood in Antwerp, Cultural Centre Merksem, Cultural Centre Gravenhof, Cultural Centre De Schelde, and Cultural Centre 252 CC in Ekeren.
images: POLO Architects / photography: Sarah Blee - Elisabeth Verwaest
Kiel, Zandvliet, Hoboken & Ekeren
1.440 m², 1.908 m², 2.250 m² & 847 m²
winning competition design