Instead of tearing down historic buildings whose purpose has been lost to the ravages of time, more and more architects and owners are choosing to give these places a new life, in the process creating architectural jewels with a characteristic clash of old versus new. Churches become concert venues, breweries become museums… and so on. We sent Jef Claes and Adriaan Hauwaert (recently introduced in our feature on young and rising photographers) on a mission to three Belgian cities to capture on film examples of successful buildings re-purposed. We kick off the series with Antwerp, where Jef aimed his lense at Park Spoor Noord, the former railway site, and St. Augustine’s church now a concert hall.
Park Spoor Noord, Antwerp
After having been abandoned by the National Belgian Railway Company in 2000, this former train depot constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and set on 24 hectares of land, was transformed into a landscaped park with integrated sport facilities. It serves as a communal meeting place all year long. Renovation works were completed in summer 2009 and the former railway site is now used for festivals, markets, and more.
St. Augustine church, Antwerp
Built between 1615 and 1618, this church is one of the city’s most historic buildings. Once an Augustine monastery, it was also once to the home to works by Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck (which now can be admired in the Royal Museum for Fine Arts). After restorations that lasted from the latest 90’s ’til 2006, the music organization AMUZ turned the complex into a concert hall with state of the art sound and climate conditions whilst respecting its baroque surroundings.