Antwerp Law Courts
Above the pre-cast concrete frame of the superstructure, each courtroom roof is composed of four geometric hyperbolic paraboloid forms. The hyperbolic paraboloid is a double curved surface which on plan consists of a simple rectangular grid with the cornes pulled up or down to create a paraboloid curve. In the courtroom roofs, two hyperbolic paraboloids are pulled upwards and cantilevered over the two lower ones creating an aperture in between, which in turn is glazed to maximise natural light in the courtrooms. These rooflights face north, with the overhangs providing solar shading against the high altitude sun. The four roof sections are designed as individual components and are further separated by strip rooflights between each of the higher and lower roof elements.
The structural solution for the roofs consists of grid beams laminated in full lengths with each layer. This arrangement was progressively built up by screwing together long lengths of timber and connecting them to the perimeter steelwork, allowing the long timber strips to accurately follow the geometry of the hyperbolic paraboloid.
The whole of the roof structure was assembled in a large shipyard located several kilometres up river from the site. The shipyard was configured into a production line of separate work areas to deal with welding, painting, timber grid-shell assembly and roofing. Partially prepared materials were delivered to the shipyard then assembled under cover in an efficient and organised manner to ensure a very high quality end product. Once assembled, each of the four roof sections were lifted onto barges and transported along the river, completing the journey on a wide load truck across the fields to the site where they were craned and fixed into position.
The sail like structure of the roof are glazed on one surface, allowing natural light to flood into the courtrooms and public spaces below.
The distinctive shape of the roof was inspired by the boats in Flemish landscape paintings of the area.
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