Plantin Moretus Museum and Print Room Antwerp

Competition project for an extension to the Plantin Moretus Museum with 1,100 m2 of archive space and a reading room







structural engineering
Boydens Engineering, part of Sweco
MEP engineering

The competition to restore and expand the Plantin Moretus Museum and Prentenkabinet relates to a very specific location in the historical city centre. The project site borders the existing museum, which is housed in an extremely valuable listed building. A correct anchoring in the surroundings is therefore essential to the search for cultural durability.

The expansion proposes a combination of renovation work and a new building, which translates into an optimum programme, durable structure and material use, and an environmentally responsible installation concept...

The rich collections are currently stored in various warehouses that do not meet museum standards in terms of security, climate control and conservation. As a result, the expansion is required to address 2 key issues: the enlargement and upgrading of the storage facilities and the provision of better access to, and thus awareness of, the objects in the reserves.

The storage spaces are grouped within a massive concrete vault, which forms the most important function of the new building. This secure and acclimatized repository, which runs from floor to ceiling, consists of vertically stacked, compartmentalized depots that are fitted out with a system of mobile cabinets. Circulation routes, in the form of spiral staircases and ramps, are wound around the storage tower. These supplement the elevator, but also function as an anti-chamber for the depots. The volume is completed with supporting functions such as plumbing, cloakroom and (goods) lift.

The front of the new building is simply a skin, but plays an important role in the experience of the building both inside and out. To give the museum a vibrant look, a specific wish of the commissioner, we proposed a transparent layer that makes all of the movement within the spiral circulation route visible from the street. The entire fa├žade is glazed and protected by brass plates. The latter are perforated and feature an image of the sixteenth-century printing rooms by Johannes Stradanus.