Museum Aan de Stroom

The new Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS), designed by Rotterdam-based Neutelings Riedijk Architects as a sixty-meter-high tower landmark in Antwerp, Belgium, has recently been completed. During one week in May, the public could visit the new building on guided tours. Now the MAS will be closed for another year to move the collection and set up the exhibitions. Official opening is foreseen in Spring 2011.

MAS seeks to become a contemporary museum of, for and about the city and the world. Visitors will discover how Antwerp and the world have been indisputably linked with one another for hundreds of years. In it, they will recognize hand prints as the traces left by others among us, and vice versa, they will understand Antwerp’s imprint on the world. The new museum gathers ethnological, maritime, ethnic and art historic collections in a new surprising story, so MAS announces.

Following is a description of the museum received from Neutelings Riedijk Architects: 

The Location 

The new museum is between the old docks in the heart of “Het Eilandje”. This old port area is the major urban renewal project in the center of Antwerp and is developing as a vibrant new city district. 

The Building 
The MAS is designed as a sixty-meter-high tower. Ten gigantic natural stone boxes are piled up as a physical demonstration of the gravity of history, full of historical objects that our ancestors left behind. It is a storehouse of history in the heart of the old docks. Each floor of the tower is twisted a quarter turn, so that creates a huge spiral staircase. This spiral space, which is bordered by a wall of corrugated glass, is a public city gallery. A route of escalators carry visitors up from the square to the top of the tower. The spiral tower tells the story of the city, its port, and its inhabitants. At each floor the visitor can enter the museum hall and go into the history of the dead city, while on his way to top breathtaking panoramas of the living city itself unfolds. At the top of the tower are a restaurant, a party room and a panoramic terrace, where the present is celebrated and the future planned. 

Materials and Ornaments
Façades, floors, walls and ceilings of the tower were completely covered with large slabs of red Indian sandstone hand cleaved, making the image of a monumental stone sculpture. The four colors of the stone slabs based on a computerized pattern are dividend on the façade. The spiral gallery is lined with a huge curtain of corrugated glass. With its play of light and shadow, transparency and translucency of the undulating glass facade brings a lighthearted counterweight to the gravity of the stone sculpture. To soften the monumental tower volume a pattern of metal ornaments has been put like a veil over the façade. The ornaments are shaped like hands, the logo of the City of Antwerp. Inside the building, this pattern continued through metal medallions, molded by a design of Tom Hautekiet with a text of Tom Lanoye. 

The Square
The Museum square at the foot of the tower is an integral part of the design. The square is decorated in the same red stone as the tower and surrounded by pavilions and terraces, as an urban space for events and outdoor exhibitions. The central part of the square is half sunken and forms a framework for a large mosaic of Luc Tuymans. 

Project Details
Program: New Development | Museum for City History Antwerp, Museum, Restaurant, Party Room, Pavilions, Plaza Surface area: 19,557 m2 Floor surface, 11,415 m2 Outdoor construction Construction costs: € 33.409.000 (including construction of the pavilions and plaza, excluding design, scenography, VAT, fees and indexing) Location: Hanzestedenplaats | 2000 Antwerp | Belgium Design: International Competition | 1st Prize | April 2000 Start construction: October 2006 Realization: February 2010 

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