A daylight museum for the 21st century: KAAN Architecten

City Loft by UAU Collectiv
December 20, 2021
Le Ray by Maison Edouard François
January 3, 2022

KAAN Architecten unveils the main phase of its intervention on the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA)

© Mediamixer

After winning an international competition in 2003 commissioned by the Flemish Government, Dutch architecture office

In addition to being one of the last examples of bold neoclassical architecture in the city of Antwerp, the museum houses a rich art collection that embraces seven centuries of art: from Flemish Primitives to expressionists, from paintings to drawings and sculptures.

Rising above the remains of the 16th century citadel and intertwined within the remarkable starshaped urban fabric, the museum was originally designed in the 19th century by architects Jacob Winders and Frans van Dyck.

© Wearecontents
© Sebastian van Damme

It opened to the public in 1890.

KMSKA was conceived as a daylight museum, where visitors would enjoy a promenade surrounded by stunning artworks as well as the external landscape, witnessed through its multiple lookouts over the city and the inner patios. During the 20th century, new developments in exhibition design and museum distribution brought fundamental changes to the building’s layout, modifying the original circulation route and the connection with the city.

In the early 2000’s, while “KAAN Architecten” started working on the museum’s masterplan, renovation and extension, the southern neighbourhood of Antwerp began to progressively gain greater value through public investments and urban transformation.

One of the architects’ most intrepid initiatives was to completely conceal the extension of the museum within its existing inner structure — the new addition is not

visible from the outside — in order to highlight the heritage value and the resilience of the outstanding 19th century building, nestled in this fastchanging district.

The extension co-exists with the powerful historical structure without diluting its monumental character.

The entrance hall leads to the majestic de Keyserzaal (named after artist Nicaise de Keyser), which serves the pivotal role of introducing the visitors to while visiting the historical museum, guests walk through an enfilade of exhibition rooms tinted in dark pink, green and red; oak doors, tall columns and ceiling ornaments in plasterwork collectively convey a feeling of ancient grandeur.

On the first floor, large windows visually connect the bright yet modest interiors with the surroundings, while on the second floor, the main halls are lit by wide glass canopies and equipped with elegant sofas for those

enjoying the art masters.

Several spaces consist of bright white exhibition halls, which are part of the new museum extension and where daylight beams in form 198 triple triangulated northfacing roof elements located on the top hall and flooding through four large light wells, measuring up to 23 meters floor-to-ceiling.

These skylights are designed to guide and diffuse the light, and their structure also features additional lighting to compensate for the seasonal loss of daylight. The threedimensional urethane highgloss floors of the new museum enhance the dazzling effect of these spaces.

We invite you to visit the museum’s official website (www.kmska.be/verbouwing) for more information about the museum’s upcoming developments.

© Sebastian van Damme
© Stijn Bollaert

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)

Leopold de Waelplaats 2
Antwerp (Belgium)

KAAN Architecten
(Kees Kaan, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio)

Walter Hoogerwerf

Valentina Bencic, Maicol Cardelli, Alice Colombo, Aksel Çoruh, Davis de Cos Roman, Sebastian van Damme, Paolo Faleschini, Raluca Firicel, Eva French i Gilabert, Michael Geensen, Narine Gyulkhasyan, Marco Jongmans, Martina Margini, Giuseppe Mazzaglia, Laura Ospina, Maurizio Papa, Ismael Planelles Naya, Giacomo Rizzi, Ralph van Schipper, Kim Sneyders, Koen van Tienen, Niels Vernooij, Martin Zwinggi

Departement Cultuur, Jeugd en Media (Vlaamse Overheid)
Het Facilitair Bedrijf (Vlaamse Overheid)
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (KMSKA)

2003 – 2010

Design phase: January 2010 — ongoing
Construction: December 2011 — ongoing

GFA 30.000 sqm
VOLUME 170.000 m3
BUILDING FOOTPRINT 130 x 77 meters

66 Mln €

Stijn Bollaert, Karin Borghouts, Sebastian van Damme, Mediamixer

Visit kaanarchitecten.com for more information

Comments are closed.