The Port House, a new home for an international port

The Port House is the head office of the Antwerp Port Authority. The office building is at the Zaha Hadidplein 1, which has been named after architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who died unexpectedly a couple of months before completion of the building. The new building symbolises the dynamic, reliable, ambitious and innovative nature of the Port of Antwerp. It is the daily workplace of 500 employees of the Port Authority and it acts as a meeting place for the many international contacts of the Antwerp port community.

Architecture and concept

Zaha Hadid Architects, who designed the Port House, faced a particularly complex challenge. 

The old fire station on the site, a protected replica of a former Hanseatic house had to be integrated in the new project. The eventual design is the result of several studies, such as a historic survey and an investigation into the history and heritage values of the site. The result consists of two entwined main volumes. A dynamic beam-shaped volume rises above the existing building and in a visual sense reinforces the former fire station, now a component of the new constellation. An external bridge integrates the existing building with the new expansion.

The expansion has a glass-covered façade which shimmers like waves and thus reflects the complex interaction of shades and colours in the air. This is a referral to the building's exceptional location surrounded by water. The perception of a cut glass mass to give the new building a sparkling appearance refers to Antwerp, the diamond city.

The entire Port House – with its eye-catching and extremely modern glass superstructure – is a metaphor for a 21st century port: a port that is ready for the future. 

Integration and the New Way of Working

The new Port House's main objective is to provide an answer to the Port Authority's request to group the technical and administrative services in one location. A number of services were established in the former fire station, other services were in the Hofstraat and in the old Port House at the Entrepotkaai. By grouping these services, the internal co-operation is far more efficient. 

The 500 employees of the Port Authority who work at the Zaha Hadidplein will use this time ‘flexibly’. This means they will swap their fixed workplaces for mobile workplaces. Moreover, they can swap desk depending on the nature of the activity: telephone, concentrated work or meetings.

Sustainable nature

If everything goes well, the Port House will receive the ‘Very Good’ BREEAM-label in the autumn of 2016. This is an international evaluation and rating of the integral sustainability profile for buildings. The Port Authority had high standards in terms of sustainability for the construction of the new headquarters:

  • A bore hole-energy-storage system takes care of the heating and the cooling of the building.
  • Water-free urinals and movement detection minimise the water consumption.
  • Building automation and optimum daylight linking system limit the need for artificial lighting. 

Look at the photographs and watch a movie about the construction of the new Port House.