Mas Museum, Antwerp

A Game of Shadows and Light

The Ann De Stroom museum in Antwerp, known simply as the MAS Museum, presents exhibition pieces from Flemish history. It is located in a 60m tower that is architecturally reminiscent of the landmark 19th century storage silos that have long shaped the skyline of the neighboring district. The individual floors are shifted by a quarter-turn from each other to create an impressive spiral tower. Visitors are guided further and further up the eight floors until arriving at the roof for a breathtaking view out over Antwerp.

The outside of the building contains red stone from India. The stone facade is covered in 3,000 hands of aluminum that glisten in the sunlight and serve as a symbolic homage to the City of Antwerp. Daylight penetrates into the interior of the windowless building through floor-to-ceiling glass walls whose wave-like curves resemble glass curtains. The shape reminds of the waves of the Schelde, which flows through Antwerp on its way into the North Sea. The individual elements measuring 5.5 x 1.8m each are 60cm thick. Thanks to chemical pre-tensioning and a cylindrical bend design, the panes are so geometrically stable that no frame construction was needed. The light, undulating glass curtain stands in opposition to heavy stone facades and provides transparency, something that massive opaque natural stone cannot. In this way, the responsible architect, Neutelings Riedijk, achieved a play of light and shadow.