The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Matthijs Rubberecht

Matthijs Rubberecht

Co-founder, Spaced

Can you describe what you do?

I develop user interface design for web applications and mobile apps. I’m self employed and together with my associate Simon, I run Spaced. We both work from ZOLDER, a co-working space at Kavka.

Where you are based?

I live about five minutes away from ZOLDER, close to the Theaterplein, a square in the centre of Antwerp’s so-called theatre neighbourhood, which houses venues like the Arenberg and the Stadsschouwburg.

Do you have a daily routine?

Yes. It starts with shortcutting my walk to work through a sort of hidden passage that connects the Leopoldstraat and the Lange Gasthuisstraat. It then goes through the botanical garden, giving me my daily dose of nature. It also has a greenhouse, home to a boatload of cacti. It’s glorious. At ZOLDER, Simon and I go through our to-do’s for the day and when we both know what to do we pretty much get to it. We try to work only six hours a day, but during those six hours we aim to be as efficient as we possibly can. We use pomodore timers to ensure that we take enough breaks, play a quick game of Smash Bro’s a couple of times each day to stay sharp (and to taunt each other). After work I go to a new gym called Urban Coaching just around the corner. It’s something in between personal coaching and fitness. It’s nice.

Don’t go to the market on the Theaterplein on a Sunday. Go on Saturday.

How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

I think Antwerp is too much into cars. The amount of people wanting to come to the city centre by car is absolutely ridiculous. Apart from that, I think Antwerp is a pretty cosy city with some nice areas and a good nightlife scene. A lot of hidden gems and some insanely beautiful houses that have become mixtures of old and futuristic elements. Antwerp is home to a lot of cultural organisations, and events, making it feel like there’s too much choice at times.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?

The presence of a lot of other creatives makes collaborations quite easy.

How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Living in a city opens your mind more towards other people. It shapes your local network, and you can easily have many encounters with a lot of different interesting people.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

Billies bier café for a typical Belgian meal and beer. It’s a bit pricy but the food, beer and music is good. And also don’t go to the market on the Theaterplein on a Sunday. Go on Saturday.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?

If you are standing on the Theaterplein and look around carefully, you can see the statue of Liberty.
Photography Joke De Wilde