touching the surface of Antwerp
and why studying architecture is amazing
Leaving Antwerp brings me to the song of Balthazar. Even though I'm not riding in a train I really want to listen to it and get a feeling of what Antwerp essence is.
More maps
For me it was talking about details and oddly assembled architecture. They say that houses in Belgium are ugly, and in some of them you can certainly see that vibe. In the meantime, I will always think of Antwerp as a resemblance of wonderful architecture, a collection of awesome detailing, wavy glass panels which looked weird (can it ever be in a good way though?) from afar but turned out to be so beautiful and gave a silk-like feeling to all of us. I will remember Antwerp as life discussions with Vit and Carla in McDonald's while drinking tea, talking about small and big things which just make our life...worth it.

Accidentally ending up in a Red Light District and following its paths, walking to the central station and taking perfectionist photos there.

Our bus was thirty minutes late and that gave us the opportunity to buy a bottle of wine and drink it while in the bus. And all these small things turn out to be big: when you are stuck in the routine and you feel like you will need to spend all your time studying, getting more and more into architecture, deadlines and detailing, you need this kind of escape. Funny thing is that you are still into it, but in such a fascinating way — actually experiencing it, touching the materials and talking to your friends like 'hey guys, what do you think this overhang is about?'

And I think that's beautiful.
St.Andrew's Church interior
Now I would like to switch from the romantism of the memories I got from Antwerp to more tangible and analytical part of it - architecture of Antwerp, MAS museum and its influence on the city image.
MAS Museum by Neutelings Riedijk Architects
We recognize cities by landmarks. We tend to use them as the route descriptions (the Van Beek art store? ah, that's close to Hizmet!), building a unique Kevin Lynch map in our head of the places we've been to. For Antwerp such an oustanding element for both guests and inhabitants is MAS museum.

It directly relates to the major role of Antwerp in world trade and is situated in place of the large storehouse from 1564. Fire in 1893 destroyed the complex. The museum was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects and became an epitome of the landmarks which communicate with the visitors and connect history with modernity.

Neutelings Riedijk Architects managed to create a proper connection between the museum and the city, establishing the 60-meter-high tower. The use of natural stone blocks with the hands used 'to soften the facade and sparkle in the sun'. The museum is special both from architectural and structural point of view; the structure is represented by the main concrete block, which serves as a basis for cantilevered truss structure. Much more can be said about structural characteristics.

Circulation paths are clearly visible in the building, escalators and galeries are guiding the visitors through the spiral route. It gives the opportunity to enjoy all four views of the city through the undulating glass panels.
Circulation provides views at all parts of the city
Escalators guiding the visitors
Even though Neutelings Riedijk do not see architecture as a representation of art itself, they demonstrate close collaboration with the artists. I experienced the place as a spacious walking trajectory, showing the scenography of the architecture.

If architecture is 'between following a path and discovering a path of our own' (Peter Zumthor, The Magic of the Real), then the MAS museum is mostly about making visitors follow the route without getting lost but discover the views opening to the different sides of the city.
View from the rooftop of the museum. By the way, two apartment blocks are covering the Zaha Hadid's building. We decided not to walk there so just enjoyed it while eating next to one of the apartement blocks. They amazed us a lot: first we did not think they were special. However, by getting close to them we fell in love with the glass panels and the silk-like expression of the facades.
The MAS project is a part of the modernization project of Antwerp, where old storehouses were replaced by the projects of famous architects (on the photos below you can also see the project of Diener&Diener office, apartment towers Westkaal.
Traveling is what it takes for a person to experience architecture; getting lost in the streets and accidentally finding the memorable spots while wandering between disctricts. As an architecture student I find myself constantly thinking about connections and detailing, striving to understand both the structure and philosophy behind a building.

And one of the best things to do is, undoubtedly, travel with my architecture friends and admire it together.
I hope you enjoyed this inspired by architecture and awesome people story.
More photos can be found at the travel photography page.

Tons of love, kisses and architecture,
Made on