Antwerp’s MAS Museum opened its doors back in May 2011. Its name stands for Museum Aan de Stroom, which means Museum on the River. Each of the building’s ten stories is twisted 90 degrees to form a rising spiral.
Neutelings Riedijk built the building from red stone to match the shade of several important city center buildings nearby. The large panels of hand-cut red Indian sandstone from Agra are distributed over the façade according to a computer-generated pattern. The architects balanced the heavy stone facade with thick corrugated glass that provides transparency and lightness and mind-blowing views of the city — at the corners!
3,000 aluminum hands embellish the façade in an homage the story that gave the City of Antwerp its name. The same repetitive pattern continues inside the building, where writer and designer Tom Lanoye created beautiful medallions inscribed with poetry. Each poem is an ode to the water, the city, the people and the city’s heritage, just like the museum itself.
Because comics are an integral part of Belgian culture (remember Tintin?), the MAS’ escalators are all decorated with illustrations. The museum’s exhibition rooms are laid with oak flooring and feature local and international art and ancient artifacts.
Photo © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat