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Zaha Hadid Architects sits rippling glass lump on top of Antwerp port building

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A huge, faceted glass volume sits on the roof of the new headquarters Zaha Hadid Architects has designed for Antwerp’s Port Authority (slideshow).

Zaha Hadid Architects added the glass extension to a disused fire station in Antwerp’s docks to create Port House.

First unveiled in 2009, the scheme was one of the most ambitious designs proposed by British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid before her death earlier this year.

The huge volume measures over 100 metres in length, almost matching the scale of the former fire station below it.

It allows the building to host 500 Port Authority staff who were previously working across separate sites in the Belgian city.

The extension is covered in triangular facets – some transparent and others opaque – which are arranged to create a flat surface at the south end and a rippling texture that echoes the water at the north.

“Like the bow of a ship, the new extension points towards the Scheldt, connecting the building with the river on which Antwerp was founded,” said ZHA.

“Surrounded by water, the new extension’s facade is a glazed surface that ripples like waves and reflects the changing tones and colours of the city’s sky.

The alternating transparent and opaque panels are intended to visually break up the scale of the structure. They also provide ample daylight, shade and views out to the Scheldt river, city and port for workers.

The old fire station is heritage listed so the extension is elevated above its roof, ensuring none of the original facades are concealed.

One end of the glazed structure overhangs the original dormer roof and is propped up by a tapered concrete leg containing an observation point.

“The new extension appears as a carefully cut form which changes its appearance with the shifting intensity of daylight,” said the firm. “Like the ripples on the surface of the water in the surrounding port, the new facade reflects changing light conditions.”

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