This project is a prime example of urban regeneration. The auction room and some of the surrounding buildings, derelict for 10 years, were acquired with the intention of reviving and ‘unlocking’ this patch of urban fabric in the historic centre of Antwerp.
The site occupies a T-shaped piece of land containing two buildings with street elevations and the large volume of the art deco auction room placed almost centrally in the plan.
Although the building in the Leopoldstraat contains a lot of authentic elements that seem to be in adequate condition, the reality turned out differently and a new building was proposed. The premises in de Van Heurckstraat also need a complete and total overhaul.
The original rooflight over the large auction space, which originally had a greenhouse type skylight and a semi-translucent inner skin, is replaced with a single steel and glass roof that allows a view of the sky. The enclosed urban garden that connects the 4 parts of this project is landscaped to provide an easy and elegant access to the auction room volume, the block of ‘landlocked’ apartments at the rear of the site, and the underground parking facilities for the owners.
The premises on the Leopoldstraat, a stones-throw away from the Botanical gardens, were transformed into contemporary loft apartments with completely glazed elevations and large L-shaped terraces at the rear. The ground floor here is turned into a commercial space with the possibility of using the auction room as a showroom. The existing derelict building in the Van Heurckstraat made way for new lofts again opening up with terraces to the inner courtyard. Both buildings feature open plan layouts for the lofts, with uninterrupted views from front to back, and both have rooftop apartments with generous and sunny terraces.
The language of this project is resolutely urban and restrained, using a very hard dark brick for the street elevations, and windows and balconies in matte black steel and toughened glass on the more private courtyard side.