Antwerp Law Courts
The concept is a gateway response without monumentality, but with a roof form generated from perspective lines and Flemish paintings of barges passing through the countryside. The scheme inverts the traditional arrangement of a law courts by placing daylight to hearing rooms and public space on the top of the building, allowing views across the city. The private spaces below face onto courtyards, which will provide quiet and daylit spaces contributing to a calming environment. It will extend to incorporate connections to parks, bridges and road, allowing clear views from the street and developing the city skyline. This building is a key inspiration to the masterplan for the 'Nieuw Zuid' (New South) which the team have developed with the City of Antwerp.
The eight law courts within six linear wings are arranged around a central public area known as the Salle des Pas Perdus. The hearing rooms are the formal interface between the judiciary and the public. These spaces are placed above the office fingers and are accessed centrally from the Salle des Pas Perdus so that the hearing rooms and the public space flow over the top of the building. The principal hearing rooms are grouped around the Salle des Pas Perdus and frame the public space with the tallest of the roof structures.
The smaller hearing rooms are arranged along the fingers under an undulating series of stainless steel roofs oriented to take advantage of north light. Service space for the hearing rooms is sandwiched between the hearing rooms and the offices below responding to a functional need to provide decentralised plant, while architecturally it separates the spaces above and below so that the hearing rooms appear to float over the building. The office wings overlook landscaped courtyards allowing a natural link between the exterior and interior spaces. Public connections consider integrating the building with Konijnenwei Park (to the east) and Bolivarplaats (to the north). These connections will be furthered through the masterplan to reintegrate the city by providing east/west feeder roads linking the southern fringes.
The newly formed Bolivarsplaats provides public space immediately in front of the building. The motorway has been diverted to run underneath the Law Courts and square allowing pedestrian routes through the city and a new tram-line to run into the square.
The Salle de Pas Perdus is a public space that provides a focus and orientaion area to the building, from which the court rooms, offices, library and dining hall are accessed.
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