New cruise terminal at Het Steen fails to win Antwerp’s heart

Het Steen.

As some scaffolding has been removed, the new cruise terminal at Het Steen stone castle in Antwerp is now very visible from the outside. And it’s a monstrosity.

Disputed annex.

Since Wednesday, protest has meen mounting. A petition to tear down this annex to the medieval castle is amassing signatures rapidly. 

Just look at it. It is so uninspired. So boxy. How can an architect be proud of this design? How can all concerned commissions approve this project? How could the governments of the City of Antwerp and of Flanders rubberstamp this project? 

The jury which approved the project consisted of the Flemish master builder, the Antwerp master builder, Heritage Flanders and an alderman of Antwerp. 

Author Jeroen Olyslaegers brought the issue to a wider audience, with many chiming in. Now he regrets his rhetoric, but still says the cruise terminal is a monstrosity. 

Newspapers and radio stations picked up the news. City of Antwerp mast builder Christan Rapp stays calm. “Wait for the end result. Not every renovation building can be a Havenhuis (Port House).”

Antwerp Havenhuis.

Rapp says the current design was the best of five. “Yes we could have chosen a glass box. We chose to integrate.” 

In the course of yesterday / Thursday, a charm offensive was started, highlighting what is visible now is not the end result.

Renderings 

On renderings provided by noArchitecten, the whole project looks better. But reality is quite different. 

Rendering of a finished Het Steen. Photo by noArchtitecten, retrieved at AG VESPA.

Colour wise the modern bricks are okayish in combination with the old castle. But the shape is too boxy. Too uninspired, too thirteen in a dozen. And that is a missed opportunity. 

So yes, maybe it’s not finished yet. But it looks awful. 

Further reading

Flag of Brabant.

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