Handelsbeurs, Antwerp

Photo by Tim Fisher©

Antwerp’s jewel sparkles again

After more than 20 years of neglect and many years of planning, the Handelsbeurs renovation which commenced in 2016 is now complete. The renovated Handelsbeurs glistens and sparkles in all its former glory, and now also has a 3-level underground car park.

Antwerp’s Handelsbeurs was built at its current location in 1531 to replace the ‘Oude Beurs’ that had become too small. It was the first stock exchange to be built especially for this purpose and became an example for stock exchange buildings around the world.

The main hall is a covered public space connecting several streets in Antwerp’s main shopping area De Meir. It will be the venue for many public and private events. The complex also includes a fine restaurant and the neighbouring hotel block has also been renovated and will be Belgium’s first ‘Autograph Collection’ hotel by Marriott.

Photo courtesy Denys website

The stock exchange was designed as a square building with an opening on each side representing the trade conducted in all four corners of the world. It was destroyed twice by fire, in 1583 and again in 1858, after which it was reconstructed in the very sumptuous neo-Gothic style we see today. The beautiful listed building is now fully restored and open again.

Underpinned by 3-level car park

Photo courtesy Denys website

No public building in a city centre would be complete without a parking facility. Event organisers and visitors to the Handelsbeurs, restaurant and hotel need somewhere to park their cars. Collaborating with architect eld, restoration specialists Origin and contractor Denys, Q-Park has realised a 300-space car park in the centre of Antwerp.

During excavation work for the car park special attention had to be paid to the structures above. A property on Sint-Katelijnevest was acquired to create an access and exit route for cars. Steel girders were inserted to support the upper floors while the ground floor was demolished and excavated to form the car park entrance.

Car park features

The barrier is well away from the speed gates so motorists do not cause a hazard for trams, vehicles or pedestrians at street level.

The actual parking deck is mainly column free, however to support the pillars that form the cloister around the Handelsbeurs courtyard, supporting columns had to be strategically placed in the car park. These have been recessed from the outer ends of the spaces and placed parallel to the angled parking bay. This minimises hinder to motorists and reduces the chance of damage to cars, for example when opening the rear passenger door.

The one-way traffic in the car park is directed around the outside of the main parking area which is under the courtyard. Traffic on route to a lower floor or to the exit is separated from the main parking area by a mandatory wall. Q-Park has solved the problem of visibility and light that a solid wall would mean by placing toughened glass in the upper half. This open and well-lit structure means that visitors feel safe and secure when walking to and from their parked car.

The underground car park extends beyond the confines of the Handelsbeurs to below the hotel. This section of the car park includes spaces for blue badge holders and direct access to the hotel foyer.

Other Q-Park signature features incorporated into the Handelsbeurs parking facility design and construction include:

  • Layout determined by preserved building structures
  • Energy saving led lighting throughout the complex
  • Motion sensors control the lighting in the pedestrian areas as well as the parking decks
  • Separate vehicle and pedestrian access and exits
  • Effective illuminated signage indicating the number of vacant spaces on other floors
  • Multiple barriers (1 for access and 2 for exit) well away from the street
  • Speed gates prevent unauthorised access to the car park

Q-Park signature features that make using the car park safer and more convenient for motorists include:

  • PlatePay easy access and exit for registered customers
  • Amply-sized parking spaces denoted by black pads, enabling motorists to manoeuvre more easily
  • Connection to the Q-Park control room providing 24/7 customer service
  • Pedestrian access to parking deck for ticket holders only contributes to safety
  • Glass-fronted lifts, glass doors and glass partitioning for additional safety
  • Season tickets and pre-booking
  • Brighter light at the edge of the driving aisle encouraging pedestrians to walk along these well-lit paths
  • Specially allocated spaces for blue badge holders and EV charging

The exquisite result of this renovation is the product of close project collaboration between public and private parties. If you have a historic inner-city location which you want to inject new life do get in touch with our specialists. We'd love to think along with you about renovation options including car parking solutions.