Traction Substations Brabo 2, Antwerp

Tractiestations Brabo 2

The architects Van Belle & Medina were asked by De Lijn public transport company to build three electricity cabins to provide power for the new tram line in northern Antwerp. The frivolity of the form of these brick constructions gives the cabins a pronounced presence. The architects made use of their particular settings – on the crossroads opposite Zaha Hadid’s Port House, under a bridge next to a bus park in Tjalkstraat and in a small park on Noorderlaan in the Luchtbal residential area – to erect three quite different buildings. In the Luchtbal neighbourhood, the park with its statue gave rise to the notion of the cabin as a garden pavilion. A wall with arched openings marks out a circle in the park which, in a single gesture, contains both the electricity cabin and the sculpture. The substation in Tjalkstraat is built against the bridge that links the Luchtbal district to the Eilandje. The architects added complexity to the masonry of this brick box through the addition of three semi-circular recesses. These provide an inviting shelter to anyone who is waiting for a tram up on the bridge. They remind us of the great care with which public infrastructural elements, such as bridge pillars and electricity cabins, were designed a century ago. The traction substation on the busy crossroads at the foot of the Port House was conceived as a place to take a brief rest and as a lookout post. Staircases have been incorporated into both flanks of the circular building. As a result, this particular architecture does more than just house the technical equipment for the tram line. Like a small mooring post, it offers a subtle and not unironic riposte to the dominant architecture of the Port House.

Birgit Cleppe

This project is published in Flanders Architectural Review N°13. This Is a Mustard Factory

Project details


public space, traffic


Noorderlaan / Tjalkstraat / Straatsburgbrug

2030 Antwerpen





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