Het Steen today

Mounting calls for demolition of new Antwerp visitors’ centre

The new tourist reception and information centre at Het Steen in Antwerp is taking shape.  The building will offer services to tourists and local residents but the new construction has few admirers.

Many Antwerpians have taken to social media to express their disgust at a building that they believe detracts from the beauty of the medieval Steen fortress.

Het Steen is the oldest building of Antwerp.  The oldest parts date from the turn of the 12th century.  Major renovations were staged in the 16th century.  Over the years the building has served many purposes.  It’s been a castle, a prison and a museum. In recent years work started to build a cruise terminal nearby as well as a new information centre.

Antwerpians are disappointed by the new construction that is nearing completion.  “It’s just like a boring block of flats where nobody wants to live” said one local resident. “They’ve added a ghastly building to the construction.  It’s a crying shame, a historic building with a modern block like that!”

Christian Rapp, the city’s master builder, remains calm: “It was the best entry of five”.

Many critics point to the new Port House or Port Authority Building designed by Zaha Hadid that has become a landmark of the northern port city. 

Meanwhile a petition calling for the demolition of the ‘carbuncle’ has collected 22,000 signatures.

Het Steen before the works
Alexander Dumarey

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