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Zaha Hadid’s firm created a ship-shaped extension on an old fire station

The Port House in Antwerp is meant to reference the city’s diamond-trading past

The Zaha Hadid-designed Port House headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium is finally complete, seven years after its design’s first unveiling in 2009. Created for the Belgian city’s Port Authority, the striking building combines the architecture of a disused fire station and a new articulated glass extension that appears to float above the existing structure.

Measuring over 100 meters, or 328 feet, in length, the extension looks like a multi-faceted swoosh of toothpaste, or the bow of a ship—though it’s actually meant to recall the shape of a diamond in reference to Antwerp’s historic valuable gems trade. Its pillars seem to pierce through the fire station’s glass-ceilinged courtyard, which forms the main reception area for the entire building, while the facade made up of triangular window panels, some of which are reflective and some of which are transparent, mirror the rippling of the Scheldt River nearby and the changing sky.

The windows also help in regulating the amount of sunlight that enters the headquarters, allowing it to incorporate other sustainable elements like the borehole thermal energy storage system that provides heating and cooling throughout the building, and automated lighting and water systems that minimize consumption.

The Port House, which measures 12,800 square meters (or 138,000 square feet), features plenty of social areas including a restaurant, meeting rooms, and a 90-seat auditorium located on the upper levels of the former fire station and the lower levels of the extension. The rest of the space contains open-plan offices. There is also an observation room on the tapered concrete leg supporting the overhanging end of the extension. Take a look below.

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