Antwerp city council is building a new CO2-neutral neighbourhood with homes and workplaces. There is a desire to make the communal heating plant into a major sign and landmark. The brief revolves round the design of a 50m chimney that is to give expression to this ecological ideal.
The heating plant is integrated into the embankment between the park and the motorway and thus combines the advantages of this two-sided location. On the park side, the building is a hospitable visitor centre with lookout tower, while on the motorway side it can continue undisturbed in its function as a smooth-running machine. The structure that gives the boiler chimneys the necessary stability is clad in steel sheets. They are bent along their diagonals, which makes these thin sheets more rigid and stronger, as is also the case in the material used for air ducts. Thus material and form here give the tower a technical appearance.
The tower and its base can be seen from the motorway side, and the form near the ground is reminiscent of an archaic hearth. Seen from the park, the lines of the paths that cut through the slope are continued in the angular twists in the tower volume. The tower is a landscape element, like part of a mountain flank or cliff, as in the sixteenth-century paintings of Joachim Patinir. Here, the landscape, building, technical elements and structure fuse into a single image.