Cad Courtyard 1 Render

the CAD halls

hangars for sports, dining and printing

The building application for the recruitment room for port workers dates from 1938; the building was commissioned on 5 February 1940. The architect was Emiel van Averbeke, the city architect who ten years earlier had built the neighbouring school ensemble. The complex consists of four interconnected hangars with saddle roofs. Here, port workers came together in large groups; the raised walkways provided overview and control.

location:Eilandje, Kempisch Dok Westkaai, Antwerp
year:2009 - 2021
client:SO Antwerpen/ AG Realestate - Scholen van Morgen
contractor:Strabag (hall 1+2), Monument (Cad hall 3, printing workshop)
advisor - technical installations:Adviesbureau vd Weele with AACO Architecten/ Peter van Orshoven (Cad hall 3, printing workshop), RCR
structural engineer :H4D, Jaap Dijks (Cad hall 3, printing workshop), ABT
Cadix Intro Axo Cad
Cad Workers Out

© Stadsarchief Antwerpen (Antwerp City Archives)

The chosen architectural language was progressive and ambitious, probably due to the progressive character of the institution for which the building was intended:

"In 1936 the trade unions were established in consultation with (...) the recruitment centre. This initiative came after a lot of social conflicts and opposition of the port workers who were increasingly opposed to the recruitment that still took place on the streets and in the many cafés. Those cafés were exploited by the national bosses, employers in the port. The longshoremen who wanted to secure their favour were thus obliged to supper on their wages from the day before in the cafés. For the national bosses, this was a win-win situation. The longshoremen worked hard to join them on the quays, only to drink the wages of their hard work in their cafés the next day." Source:, Newsletter February 2016

Cad Old Floorplan 2

old floorplan

Cad Workers

© Stadsarchief Antwerpen (Antwerp City Archives) In the halls, activities were allocated among port workers daily. The work has now largely been taken over by computers. However, the halls remain important as a place to meet, albeit on a different scale. In the future, one of the four hangars will remain available for dockworkers.

Cad Old Floorplan
Cad Old Floorplan Drawn
old floorplans

The monumental halls are distinguished from conventional port hangars by the representative and progressive architecture of the façade. Van Averbeke's design features elements of the functionalist architecture of the 1930s, such as a horizontal façade structure, horizontal subdivision joinery, concrete tiers, symmetrically monumental buildings and horizontal window tiers. The spatial structure of the interior of the halls is purely utilitarian and is characterized by a regular rhythm of graceful steel trusses.

Kot Floor 0
Kot Floor 1

The restoration and conservation of the architectural allure of the complex is based on its status as a public structure of important symbolic and architectural significance. This maximizes the contrast between the representative character of the façades and the utilitarian character of the halls themselves.

The restoration involves cleaning and restoration (including concrete repair and replacement of the joinery) of all façades and removal of disturbing elements such as graffiti and roller shutters. The non-original bedrock is completely replaced. Instead, the structural principles and materials selected come spatially and aesthetically close to the original, in a technically advanced, durable and (fire-) safe manner.

Cad Cafeteria 1 Render
Cad Cafeteria 2 Render
Cad Cafeteria 3 Render
Cad Gym 1 Render
Cad Gym 2 Render
Cad Gym 3 Render
Kot Classroom Render
Kot Entrance Render
Kot Mezzanine 5 Render
Kot Mezzanine 4 Render
Kot Mezzanine 3 Render
Kot Mezzanine 2 Render
Kot Mezzanine 1 Render
Kot Under Mezzanine 1 Render
Kot Under Mezzanine 2 Render

In preparation for the restoration, the iconic Polonceau rafters were measured and calculated in detail. The restoration consists of the doubling of some profiles, which scarcely changes the character of the trusses. Instead of the original girdings and the original wooden board, a system of wooden channel plates is used for the new roof. The durable, innovative construction system has the appearance of a single board, but also has good acoustic, structural, insulating and fire-resistant properties.

In the restored halls, the gymnasium, the refectory and a large printing company are housed. These features make the most of the vast dimensions and openness of the spaces.

Kot Stair Render Landscape