With its orthogonal street pattern and exceptional location on a rectangular peninsula, the historical Cadix neighbourhood is a unique area within the city of Antwerp. The spatial implementation plan (ruimtelijke uitvoeringsplan, or RUP) for the district details the intention to complete the historically evolved building block pattern of Het Eilandje and to continue the orthogonal street pattern up to the docks. One aspect of this project involved research into re-destination of the site around a former customs building that was earmarked for demolition. The clearance would create an integral, closed building block within the Cadix neighbourhood that could accommodate a new volume of more than 100m x 100m. The specifications contained within the spatial implementation plan, including making optimal use of orientation and the search for an intelligent way to open up the neighbourhood, had a profound influence on the concept. On the building line an urban plinth is created with multiple functions: retail, supermarket, restaurants and bars, offices and a home for the elderly. The plinth is limited to three building layers to allow the four attendant volumes, which contain housing, to be built to the maximum height. An underground car park replaces the above ground facility adjacent to the customs building, which will be transformed into a public square. The space within the new building block is collective and green in character, thereby offsetting the residential volumes. Openings in the façade guarantee the necessary transparency.
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