Napoleonkaai Housing Antwerp
Newly constructed and renovated apartments & commercial spaces
The potential of the abandoned docks, quays and warehouses of Antwerp's Eilandje was translated into a masterplan in 2002 to make the Eilandje liveable again with all its urban facets of living, working and leisure. POLO Architects designed a remarkable block.
A project developer bought a large part of a block on the Willemdok from the oldest commercial shipping company in the city – the first to be listed in the trade register. When this area, known as the Eilandje or ‘Little Island’, had become a popular neighbourhood the developer wanted to build new homes there.
The original idea to build a vast, recognizable residential project in the block that refers to the large warehouses in the area soon clashed with city-planning regulations. The latter dictate that the cityscape on Willemdok is determined by blocks with visibly different plots that suggest a fragmented ownership structure.
"The result is inevitably an artificial intervention. Different buildings, each with their own identity, stand side by side as if designed by different architects." – Mauro Poponcini, founding partner POLO Architects
The new building sections have varying facade lines and materials and staggered floor heights. Two historically significant buildings – a warehouse and a shipping office – were retained.
The buildings contain various types of homes: stately, spacious apartments on Napoleonkaai, lofts in the former shipping office, and compact duplex homes under the mansard roof of the warehouse. Each building section has its own entrance and street address.
The inner area of the block has been reopened. To make full use of the space, the inner courtyard was not subdivided into smaller private gardens. Instead, it is a fully fledged, shared garden for the tenants.
fotografie: Toon Grobet