Machine World

The Van Cauwelaert locks desperately needed renovating. Newly developed doors placed in the locks as part of a high profile mobility programme for Antwerp’s roads and harbours. The sensitive technical components specially designed for these locks, are protected by two sheds measuring 50m x 12m x 7.5m high. This rare commission was granted to Abbink X Co bij the Flemish Government by means of  the Meesterproef, a masterclass selection for young architects. Two extraordinary qualities of the environment form the basis for the design: the Machine World of the harbours, a world where machines rule and humans are merely visitors, and the original natural world on the banks of the Schelde river where nature silently conquers the machines where possible. The concrete ground is folded back upon itself and offers nature a new battlefield.