22 September was a day with mixed feelings for my architecture loving heart.
On the one hand, I was truly thankful to be part of the official inauguration of the new landmark to my hometown. But on the other, rather saddened by the recent passing of the architect herself, only a couple of months before the construction of the actual Havenhuis was completed. What an honour it would have been to be able to meet one of the world’s most renowned organic architects.
Zaha’s masterpiece in Antwerp – headquarters to the Port of Antwerp – is a tribute to the city and its international port, with a building in the shape of a ship. For those taking the time to have a closer look, the building also refers to Antwerp as a diamond city.
The design is already a very bespoke topic in Antwerp and beyond. The contrast between the former fire station and the newly added Hadid architecture is very particular. You either hate it or love it, but the thing is.. Almost everyone knows what the Havenhuis looks like, that’s for sure!
The inauguration was preceded by a few speeches, one of which was held by Patrik Schumacher, business partner and fellow architect to Zaha Hadid’s Studio. He took over the lead since the unexpected death of Hadid in March.
In honor to Dame Hadid, the square in front of the Havenhuis was renamed ‘Zaha Hadid Square’.
A guided tour took us from the open space ground floor to the upper floor offices, which boast an amazing skyline view.
After the visit all the guests were kindly welcomed on board of the Ocean Diva for a reception and walking dinner.
Around 8 PM, the ship took us to a tribune on the other side of the waterfront, from where the view to the Havenhuis was excellent.
An astonishing light show was what followed. A choir opened with ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana, which obviously always is a winner. While the building was being dressed up in the most beautiful colours, music changed to the more uptempo beats of Basto and a fabulous finale. After the show, the party continued until late that night.
Returning home after several hours in Hadid’s Heaven, with a mini Havenhuis-snowglobe in my goodie bag, I smiled and thought: unique architecture can serve as a great consolation. Thank you Zaha!