Hidden Belgium: The Antwerp building with sails on the roof

Hidden Belgium: The Antwerp building with sails on the roof

The architect Richard Rogers, who died in December 2021, has left his mark in the city of Antwerp.

Along with the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Lloyd’s Building in London, he designed the Antwerp law courts on the southern edge of the city above a motorway tunnel.

Completed in 2006 at a cost of €280 million, this iconic building on the site of a vanished railway station is composed of white painted steel struts and vast glass expanses that are intended to symbolise open and transparent justice.

A grand staircase links the building to the renovated Bolivarplaats square where city trams stop.

The building has a complex structure of pointed roofs that rise above the eight courtrooms. The roofs were intended by the architect to suggest the sails of ships passing on the River Scheldt. But locals sometimes prefer to see them as
a row of upturned frietjes cones.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.


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