HU OUDG 1892 Pano LR

Old Antwerp courthouse

Together with design architect HUB and restoration architect Origin, we were responsible for the renovation, restoration and refurbishment of the historic courthouse in Antwerp.
  • Architect: TV OGA (HUB i.c.w. Origin, Bureau Bouwtechniek and RCR)

  • Client: Regie der Gebouwen, Cel Justitie (FOD)

  • Surface: 23.000 m²

  • Budget: partial order 2: € 40,000,000

  • Timing: partial order 1: 2014 - 2015 partial order 2: 2015 - 2023

  • Status: Executed

  • Advisors: RCR (special techniques), Optimit, FPC (fire), Daidalos Peutz (building physics), Ney&Partners (stability)

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HU OUDG 1295 Pano LR 4944

The old Antwerp courthouse on the Britselei was given a makeover to contemporary standards in terms of building technology, safety and welfare.

The palace houses the Court of Appeal, the Prosecutor General's Office, the Labour Court, the Auditor General's Office and the Antwerp Assize Court.

"Before you can embark on a project of this scale, you have to familiarise yourself with the design architect's concept. On that basis, we mapped out several structural engineering study paths to further align the design with the building and clear out as many unknown factors as possible.

Together with the designers, we managed to guide the consulting engineers over a long study period so that the building met all contemporary safety and comfort requirements. A feat, taking into account the large scale of the building and its status as a protected monument combined with the performance required of a courthouse. In particular, integrating all the necessary installation techniques requires a tailor-made approach to each type of space." dixit project architect Michaël De Roeck

Courthouse Michael

Partial order 1: study assignment to draw up a master plan: the transformation of the old courthouse

In partial order 1, the preparatory studies, building history survey, heritage studies, critical needs programme analysis, environmental study and risk analysis were combined into a coherent master plan.

Partial order 2: elaboration of the master plan: renovation and restoration of the old courthouse.

With due respect and reverence for the historically valuable aspects of the building and the original design by architect Lode Baeckelmans, the courthouse will be renovated to contemporary standards of comfort and techniques. The restoration of the remaining building parts was also worked out.

Symbiosis of new and old

Restoring the building's original structure was the basis for the intervention philosophy and final design. At the same time, user comfort and restoration of daylight, sustainability and safety were also priorities.

  • The unpitting of the historical coves on both sides of the assizes room improves the lights and views into the surrounding spaces and restores the original morphology. The addition of an extra courtroom for the Chamber of Indictments was done in such a way that the original court remains legible.
  • The impressive former assize room was given a second purpose as a versatile, solemn courtroom.
  • The attic was stripped down to the concrete supporting structure to make way for high-quality office spaces with a newly insulated roof and a new high-performance façade on the inner area.
  • The historic spaces above the walking hall were redesigned into community spaces: the staff refectory, a library and spacious meeting room that can also be used as a crisis centre.

Security at the forefront

Circulation routes for the public, police, magistrates and staff are now separated in the courthouse, improving security.

A pavilion was erected in the front garden on the Anselm Street side, where detainees can be brought in and out by cell cars in a safe and discreet manner. The pavilion consists of a reversible steel structure detached from the historic building.

Energy efficiency and reuse of materials

The restoration project was taken as an opportunity to update the courthouse in terms of energy efficiency and ergonomics, making the building ready for a new era. Given its monumental character, this required a specific approach tailored to the building:

  • the roofs were insulated
  • the external joinery was replaced with high-performance joinery, while respecting the historic appearance
  • sustainable techniques were integrated into the building, which improved its energy efficiency
  • some flat roofs were provided with a green roof (more than 2,000 m²)
  • materials and furniture were recovered where possible and reused elsewhere in the building.

21st-century additions 

  • integration of sustainable techniques
  • addition of a courtroom
  • creation of an additional monumental staircase
  • completion of the historic staircases
  • commissioning of the historic attic

As executive architect, we help the designing architects with all constructional and financial issues, so that they can fully focus on the design. BB also monitors the execution and ensures that the objectives and plan are always crystal clear for all partners, so that together we can realise our dreams.

Our experts

From Team Architecture (public sector Flanders) (2)


ir. arch. Michaël De Roeck

Project architect
E-mail |
Gretel De Smet

ir. arch. Gretel De Smet

Project architect
E-mail |

From Team Lowie (1)


arch. Mark Sette

E-mail |

From Team Renovation, Restoration & Maintenance (1)

Stephanie Van Goethem

ir. arch. Stephanie Van Goethem

Project architect
Facade renovation consultant
Expert damage diagnosis and repair of concrete
E-mail |

From Team Safety (2)


arch. Barbara Arts

Project architect
Safety coordinator
E-mail |
B B Ken Koolsaet 7293 Large

Ken Coolsaet

Advisor flat roofs
Safety coordinator
E-mail |
TAGS: Heritage| Executive architect