Rubens Site  Antwerp, Belgium, 2017 - ongoing

Program
development of the site of the residence of the world-
renowned painter Peter Paul Rubens, including a research
centre and a museum


Client
City of Antwerp

Location
Antwerp

Date
2017 - ongoing

Status
competition 1st prize, in progress

Floor Surface
2.600 m2

Collaborators
Mieke Van der Linden
Tine Cooreman
Luc Beckstedde
Jonas Vanbelle
Margarida Esteves
Lara Kinds
Matthias Decleer
Frédéric Timmermans
Valérie Van Roy
Bert Schellekens
Sofie Weytjens

Structural Engineering
Bureau d’Etudes Greisch

Services Engineering
hp engineers

Restoration
Callebaut architecten

Acoustics
Daidalos Peutz

Positioned on the side and certainly not willing to interfere in Rubens’ famous lines of sight, the new reception building for the Rubenshuis - the house, studio and garden of artist Peter Paul Rubens - is a discrete extension to this historical site. Besides the reception function, it also contains a multimedia experience centre, a museum café, a reading room and the library collection of the Rubenianum, known as the world’s most extensive documentation on early modern Flemish art and artists.

After winning the competition for the development of a new vision for the reception, experience and operation of the entire site, our interventions aim to reinforce the heritage values of the Rubenshuis and, above all, put the personality of Peter Paul Rubens back centre stage. Although the new reception building is absolutely of the 21st century, it contains a murmur of the memories and history of Rubens within it.

Rubens invariably drew the male figures in his work inspired by the heroes and gods of classical antiquity, the archetype of the strong body. The emphasis was on the muscle mass. Reflecting on these observations, the building acquires a certain 'muscular mass' or 'corporal identity' with a staccato stack of columns in both the street and garden facades. His preference for monumental diagonals is reflected in the geometry and the course of the building. This is never perpendicular, but rather from one diagonal to another, as in the construction of the spiral staircases. The domestic aspect of this unique place is contained in the two gigantic bookcases that face each other over six floors.

Together with the master plan and the new routing, the new reception building returns to the inspiring interplay between art, business, research and society that Rubens knew how to stage so ingeniously.