The Museum Aan de Stroom by Neutelings Riedijk Architects 04.08.11

2099-DS-05

The Museum aan de Stroom has recently been completed by Rotterdam practice Neutelings Riedijk Architects. Situated at the edge of Antwerp's historic Bonaparte Dock, the building will house a new museum of the city's history. The tower consists of ten "black box" exhibition spaces surrounded by glazed galleries that rise up the building in a spiral, culminating at the top in a restaurant and roof terrace.

The design is vintage Neutelings Riedijk – monolithic, forceful, yet playful. The expansive walls, floors and ceilings are clad in red sandstone panels; the blankness is enlivened by different shades and textures of stone, and decorative brass hands – the "symbol of Antwerp since medieval times", says partner Willem Jan Neutelings – are embedded into the stones. The stone mass is offset by the corrugated glass, which allows the 5m- and 11m-high windows to be almost freestanding and appear weightless.

On the one hand the museum has the attributes of a typical "iconic" building – where a dilapidated and abandoned industrial quarter is reinvigorated by the introduction of a dramatic cultural edifice. But in this case there's a far more subtle attitude at work. "It's a bit like a vertical necropolis, but at the same time it's a very living thing in the city," says Neutelings. "On every level you have a panoramic view over the living city, but if you enter one of these boxes you have a story about the 'dead' city. So it's about life and death, about history, the present and the future."

The galleries are free and open 24/7, "so it's really a public street that you can always go in to have meetings, and to enjoy the panoramic views", says Neutelings. Down at ground level are pavilions for cafes and bookshops, and a large-scale mural by renowned Belgian artist Luc Tuymans, whose studio is in Antwerp. "The idea is that it's more than just a museum," says Neutelings. "It's really a complex with activities that reinforce the public life in this neighbourhood".

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credit Sarah Blee

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credit Sarah Blee

 

Image

Daria Scagliola

 

Words

Douglas Murphy

quotes story

The design is vintage Neutelings Riedijk – monolithic, forceful, yet playful. The expansive walls, floors and ceilings are clad in red sandstone panels; the blankness is enlivened by different shades and textures of stone, and decorative brass hands – the "symbol of Antwerp since medieval times" – are embedded into the stones

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