MAS seeks to become a contemporary museum of, for and about the city and the world. Visitors will discover how Antwerp and the world have been indisputably linked with one another for hundreds of years. In it, they will recognize hand prints as the traces left by others among us, and vice versa, they will understand Antwerp’s imprint on the world. The new museum gathers ethnological, maritime, ethnic and art historic collections in a new surprising story, so MAS announces.
Following is a description of the museum from Neutelings Riedijk Architects:
The new museum is between the old docks in the heart of “Het Eilandje”. This old port area is the major urban renewal project in the center of Antwerp and is developing as a vibrant new city district.
The MAS is designed as a sixty-meter-high tower. Ten gigantic natural stone boxes are piled up as a physical demonstration of the gravity of history, full of historical objects that our ancestors left behind. It is a storehouse of history in the heart of the old docks. Each floor of the tower is twisted a quarter turn, so that creates a huge spiral staircase. This spiral space, which is bordered by a wall of corrugated glass, is a public city gallery. A route of escalators carry visitors up from the square to the top of the tower. The spiral tower tells the story of the city, its port, and its inhabitants.
At each floor the visitor can enter the museum hall and go into the history of the dead city, while on his way to top breathtaking panoramas of the living city itself unfolds. At the top of the tower are a restaurant, a party room and a panoramic terrace, where the present is celebrated and the future planned.
The SPIRAL ROUTE
A route of escalators leads the visitors up from the square up to the top of the tower. The story of the city, its harbour and inhabitants is told in the spiral tower. Visitors can enter a museum hall on every level and reflect on the history of the dead city, while on the way up breath-taking panoramas unfold above the living city. The top of the tower accommodates a restaurant, a party room and a panoramic terrace, where the present is celebrated and the future is planned.
Facades, floors, walls and ceilings of the tower are entirely covered with large panels of hand-cut red Indian sandstone, evoking the image of a monumental stone sculpture. The four-colour variation of the natural stone panels has been distributed over the facade on the basis of a computer-generated pattern. The spiral gallery is finished with a gigantic curtain of corrugated glass. Its play of light and shadow, of transparency and translucence turns this corrugated glass facade into a light counterweight to the heavy stone sculpture.
In order to soften the monumental tower volume, a pattern of metal ornaments has been attached to the facade as a veil. The ornaments have the shape of hands, the symbol of the City of Antwerp. This pattern is continued inside the building by means of metal medallions, cast according to a design by Tom Hautekiet with a text by Tom Lanoye.
THE MUSEUM SQUARE
The museum square at the base of the tower is an integral part of the design. The square has been designed in the same red natural stone as the tower and is surrounded by pavilions and terraces as an urban area for events and open-air exhibits. The central part of the plaza is sunken and forms a framework for the large mosaic by Luc Tuymans.
The building is set up as a flexible museum machine which can be used and arranged in all sorts of ways on the basis of the changing visions of curators, scenographers and concession holders. Neutelings Riedijk Architects has no further involvement in the elaboration of the interior or the scenography. The scenography of the first exhibits is to be set-up by B-Architecten; the cafeteria, party hall and the restaurant by the decorators of the concession holders, and the pavilions by the Founders interior decorators. The 62-metre high MAS tower is supported by a 12×12 metre central core of concrete poured on site. Steel frames are suspended from this core, extending 12 metres. The frames form a balance structure on either side of the core in accordance with the milk maid principle. The frames are still partially visible in the exhibition halls as large V components that divide the areas of the halls. The outer walls are suspended from the outer ends of the frames, which in turn support the floor components. The floor components consist of 12-metre long prefabricated concrete TT girders. The typical main sculptural form of the building is created in this way without a single column, as a stack of cantilevered halls. The monolithic nature of the building is softened by the corrugated glass curtain that enfolds the gallery. This transparent facade is made up of large glass sheets, 5.5 metres high and 1.80 metres wide. The sheets are curved into an S wave with a depth of 60 cm, which stabilises every glass sheet and makes it self-supporting, so the sheets can stand free on the floor without any window profiles. In this way, maximum transparency is accomplished without interrupting components. In the corners two glass panes support one another up to a height of 11 metres. A steel tube suspended from a heavy chain ensures horizontal transfer of the wind loads. The basic assumption of the MAS design was to achieve a low-energy and sustainable concept within the strict international standards imposed on the indoor climate of a museum. In order to prevent this strict climate requirement from applying to the entire building, the option was selected to establish different climate zones in the building: the museum halls on the one hand, and the gallery on the other.
Program: New Development | Museum for City History Antwerp, Museum, Restaurant, Party Room, Pavilions, Plaza
Surface area: 19,557 m2 Floor surface, 11,415 m2 Outdoor construction
Construction costs: € 33.409.000 (including construction of the pavilions and plaza, excluding design, scenography, VAT, fees and indexing)
Location: Hanzestedenplaats | 2000 Antwerp | Belgium
Design: International Competition | 1st Prize | April 2000
Start construction: October 2006
Realization: February 2010
Architectural design: Neutelings Riedijk Architects | Rotterdam | The Netherlands
Evening View East
Photo: Sarah Blee / Neutelings Riedijk Architects
Site Plan (Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architects)
Ground Floor Plan (Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architects)
First Floor Plan (Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architects)
Cross Section (Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architects)
Cross Section (Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architects)