Port House – construction

Port House

Zaha Hadid Architects

Antwerp, Zaha Hadidplein 1

2012 – 2016

Port House – construction

Engineer: Studieburo Mouton bvba

Contractor: Interbuild, Victor Buyck Steel Construction, Groven+

I’m a huge fan of Zaha Hadid Architects, already form when I was studying. So I was excited that they were gonna design something in my city. And I was even more excited when I could arrange guided tours for architects and engineers at the construction site.

In this blogpost I want to explain the construction of this special building. Only 6 columns hold the building up! Look closely to the bridge: there are no columns or any other connections between the bridge and the upper part, only four (very big) steel columns that you can hardly see. Did you know that the front extends 36 meters across the foot of the front leg?

From top to bottom I try to explain the technology of the construction of the New Port House.

Parking Space

248 cars (10 charging stations)

180 bikes (20 charging stations)

There are two floors of parking under the forecourt. Even here the details of the architectural office can be found. Very thin walls with rounded corners and round columns support the floor plates. Everything is executed in concrete. Cars, bicycles and motorbikes can be parked here; with a few connections for electric cars and bicycles. The four and two-wheelers enter the parking separately and each have their own area.

From the parking you can go through a passage to the atrium (the central courtyard where, among other things, the reception is located). The front leg continues in the parking garage and you pass it when you go to the office building.

Fire Station

The former fire station is protected and has been thoroughly restored. On the first and second floors, the east and west wings are open to form large landscape offices.

The superstructure is approximately 100m by 20m and has four storeys. Numbers say more than words:

  • 450 glass panels
  • steel roof at the courtyard: 102 ton
  • steel superstructure: 1500 ton
  • heaviest steel element: 380 ton

The following explanation about the construction can be found on the Mouton engineering office website:

The underlying concept—necessary to achieve a stable construction—consists of two parts. On the one hand, a concrete element in the form of a trapezium-shaped ring encloses the south wing of the existing building in a vertical direction. On the other is a four-legged steel structure, bent rather like an opened paper clip.

Concrete

The above needs some explanation, I suspect. The concrete ring supporting the superstructure consists of, among other things: the sloping front leg, the bridge and a concrete elevator and stairwell. The bridge is a platform between substructure = fire station and the superstructure. In the foundation zone, the front leg is coupled to the other concrete column by a connecting beam. There is a staircase in the sloping front leg. The ceiling of the bridge seems to float. This is because the only connection between front leg and superstructure is a ‘Vierendeel’ cell. This transfers the forces of the lateral wind on the superstructure to the front leg. You only see two vertical columns in the front of the bridge.

Steel

The folded paper clip consists of four steel, hollow, columns that leave in the atrium, puncture the roof and support the new building. Four columns provide the lateral stabilization (wind pressure) of the superstructure. The architects wished that the columns seemed to continue. They leave from the inside, go out through the atrium roof and then back inside into the superstructure. This causes problems with thermal bridges. The steel cross-section is smaller if the column is in the open air, so that there was extra space to place insulation and to cover it off. This is how the column seems to continue.

Port House – construction

 

Zaha Hadid Architects

Antwerp, Zaha Hadidplein 1

2012 – 2016

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