Grey matter: Atelier Kempe Thill’s Antwerp housing draws on the city’s modernist legacy

Grey matter: Atelier Kempe Thill’s Antwerp housing draws on the city’s modernist legacy

Antwerp’s Zuid neighbourhood is a thriving part of the city right next to Richard Rogers’ famous Law Courts, featuring new housing and commercial buildings to cover the demand for an expanded city centre. This growth is matched on the other side of town by the Eilandje district, with its new condos and soon-to-open-its-doors new Port Authority building by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Zuid’s latest addition is a housing development by Dutch architecture firm Atelier Kempe Thill, for local developer Triple Living. The structure comprises 32 apartments, which come complete with their own winter garden, and a string of commercial spaces on the ground floor to cater to the flourishing area’s growing needs.

The residential element is offered in a variety of shapes and sizes, with spaces ranging from 40 sq m to a whopping 160 sq m. The structure’s clean, minimalist form references the city’s strong roots to 20th century modernism and rationalism, explain the architects. The grey concrete came in largely prefabricated parts, which were put together on-site. Large glass openings allow views out to the city and the River Scheldt nearby; white wooden details add texture to the façade.

This approach is complemented inside by interiors in simple white render and cabinetry, and light coloured timber floors. Every unit features outside space that can be closed off on the cold and windy Antwerp winter days, without taking away from the sense of space and openness the winter gardens offer.

Not that this project is all about looks; the building was designed according to passive house standards, making the scheme a particularly low energy one. 

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