Antwerp Archives - Patrijsvogel
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The Port House – a Zaha Hadid masterpiece

Zaha Hidid, was an Iraqi-born British architect. She was described by the The Guardian of London as the ‘Queen of the curve’. Her major works include the aquatic centre for the London 2012 Olympics, Michigan State University’s Broad Art Museum in the US, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.  Some of her designs have been presented posthumously, including our Port House.

The new Port House repurposes, renovates and extends a derelict fire station into a new headquarters for the port – bringing together the port’s 500 staff that previously worked in separate buildings around the city.

As an Antwerp inhabitant, it feels a bit shameful to tell you that it took me more than one year to get up close and personal with this new architectural masterpiece.

But when I did, boy did I like it. This building is a true masterpiece. Interesting from every angle.

So let’s start with the least obvious one. I approached the Port House via the harbour and I liked this point of view immediately. How this ‘boat’-shaped piece peeks out above these old building. Just Luv it!

Marc Van Peel, president of the Port of Antwerp, said: “There was only one rule laid down in the architectural competition, namely that the original building had to be preserved. There were no other requirements imposed for the positioning of the new building. The jury was therefore pleasantly surprised when the five shortlisted candidates all opted for a modern structure above the original building. They all combined the new with the old, but the design by Zaha Hadid Architects was the most brilliant.”

I’m happy that the one rule was respected by the architects. Antwerp has lost enough beautiful old buildings. It would be such a shame that this one would have disappeared also.

Up close and personal

So after I crossed the water, I went all up close and personal on this building.

Hidden bunkers in the city

Just a few weeks ago I visited The Port House by Zaha Hidid for the first time. On my way over there, my boyfriend (a true Antwerp expert) pointed out these atomic bunkers scattered al over the city.

Being a brutalist lover, I was intrigued immediately. So after some research online I discovered that there are about 40 of these bunkers still standing in Antwerp. Check this website if you want more historic information.


Apparently these ‘atomic’ bunkers are build between 1954-1955 with a capacity from 6 up to 126 persons. They are not strong enough to stand in an Atomic attack nor are they large enough to harbor all Antwerp inhabitants. That’s how we roll in Belgium haha.

I’m guessing they have little to none functionality anymore. Since they are re-building the quayes, I think they will disappear soon. So if you want, hop on your bike, just like I did. Go and check them out. Here’s a map for you so you can easily find them.



Butchers Coffee

Get Hooked – Butchers Coffee

Butchers Coffee is open since 6 months now and boy, they are going strong! I ordered my first cappuccino just a couple of days ago but I was hooked instantly. So hooked that I went back 3 days in a row, taking friends to show them my new hotspot.

The Coffee

Are you, just like me, a bit of a coffee newbie? Not sure what difference there is between a flat white, cortado and cappuccino? No sweat. Dave and Paolo, both experienced barista’s, guide you through the wonderful world of coffee with a very charming smile and contagious enthusiasm. No wonder they have a big female following 🙂

Hungry? You’re in luck because they have this delicious banana bread and other tasty snacks. Did I mention that they are all homemade?


Butchers Coffee has found it’s home in a former.. butchery. Hence the name…
Dave and Paolo have found a way to make the past of this location work for them. They kept some of the original elements and combined it with there take on things. The interior is original, cosy and wants you to stay for hours and hours. In summertime they have a small terrace so you can enjoy your favorite cup in the sun.


opening hours:
monday – friday       7am – 6pm
saturday – sunday   9am – 6pm

(Yes! Open every day of the week)

adress: Kasteelstraat 57, 2000 Antwerp