A focused format
This photo essay can be considered an extension to the City of Diamonds instalment. The images were captured during that same trip — however rather than being squeezed into that original exploration, I felt that this particular building in Antwerp deserves its own feature.
I would like to start the process of sharing, within these focussed essays, mixed-media art dabblings — where I intend to create new art pieces based on core images from an essay and extend them with the use of geometric shapes, layering effects, typography and in some places, combining them with other photos from my library.
I have similarly started to explore the idea of creating series-linked posters, based around category themes. For example above you’ll see an idea could form part of an architectural poster series. I’m thinking about how these could fit into the wider context of fine art prints — something that posters aren’t typically associated with. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these and everything else you would like to share. Reach out on Twitter @elkliandhart or sign-up for the newsletter — which is a platform I plan to start using to share initial explorations prior to making them ‘public’. I would love to work with my readers to help shape these — openness and collaboration are core to how I run my business, and I’m always keen to work with creative individuals, regardless of their professional credentials.
Now back to the essay — The original fire station, which dates back to 1922, was transformed into the base of the new building. Hadid's design includes a bold glass extension that appears to float above the brick structure. The new extension is shaped like a diamond and is supported by a massive sculptural pillar, creating a striking visual contrast between the old and new elements. The extension provides stunning views of the city and the harbour, and is meant to symbolise Antwerp's connection to the world.
An interesting fact about the new building is that the diamond-shaped glass structure was inspired by Antwerp's history as the world's diamond capital. As you may know, the city has been a major centre for diamond trading and cutting for centuries, and Hadid's design pays homage to this rich cultural heritage. The building's shimmering glass façade also evokes the appearance of a cut diamond, adding to its overall beauty and uniqueness.
Since its completion, the Port House has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and has been hailed as a modern landmark in the city. The building is not only an iconic symbol of Antwerp's port and diamond heritage, but also a testament to the city's commitment to modernization and innovation.
In contrast to The Port House, the area immediately around the site of the building is typically industrial — in keeping with a working and active port area. During sunset the industrial iron port structures and machinery, combined with the handful of large wind turbines create some beautiful silhouettes — and the Port House itself really shines from the during golden hour too.
Antwerp Port House Plans — © Zaha Hadid Architects
There are approximately 2000 high precision triangular glass panels — representing Antwerp's diamond heritage, and depending on the angle and time of day, the glass reflects different images of the surrounding environment, creating a constantly changing and dynamic visual experience.
Zooming into smaller sections of the glass extension really showcases this, and the possible number of interesting compositions is near limitless.
Was (1950—2016) a renowned Iraqi-British architect known for her distinctive and innovative designs that pushed the boundaries of architecture and challenged traditional notions of space and form.
Hadid's designs are characterised by their dynamic, fluid forms and sharp angles, often incorporating sweeping curves and dramatic cantilevers. She was a pioneer in the use of computer-aided design (CAD) technology and her projects included a range of building types, including museums, sports stadiums, opera houses, and office buildings.
Some of Hadid's other notable works include the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan; the Guangzhou Opera House in Guangzhou, China; and the London Aquatics Centre built for the 2012 Olympic Games. She was the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004, and was also awarded the Stirling Prize, the UK's top architecture award, twice.
She is one of my all time favourite architects — her creations are inspiring, uplifting and beautiful. Her legacy will continue to inspire architects and designers around the world, and her designs remain celebrated for their daring and innovative approach to architecture.
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As I mentioned at the start of this essay, I’m going to start creating mixed-media fine art prints. These will be created solely using photographs from my library, and combined with illustrative elements and layering effects using software tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
The definition of mixed-media in the visual arts is rather loose, but broadly it involves combining two or more different artistic mediums or materials to produce a new artwork. It is a technique that allows artists to explore different possibilities and experiment with a wide range of materials to create a unique and innovative final piece.
In the case of combining photography, illustration, and layering effects, an artist may use photography as a starting point, adding illustrative elements and layering techniques to create a visually complex and engaging work that combines different textures, colors, and forms. Mixed media in visual arts can encompass a wide range of artistic practices and materials, including paint, paper, textiles, found objects, and digital media, and can be used to create works in a variety of styles and genres.
It has been great fun to open Photoshop, as an artistic tool, for the first time in over 15 years. The style you see below is typical of the works I was creating in my 20s — I do feel a sense of sadness that I paused these visual explorations for so long — and yet it’s personally interesting that my visual style is similar to the old (younger) me.
I’m very excited to move my style forward and embrace new directions and landscapes of creative expression in the years ahead.
A peek around the port area
Before we close this essay with a section of golden hour shots, I think it would be remiss not to share a few photos of the area that surrounds The Port House.
After catching the tram to The Port House in the morning, we decided to walk back so we could take in the industrial port area. It’s an area that is undergoing some gentrification — there is a sprinkling of hipster bars and cafes along the waterfront, occupying the old crumbling warehouses and what would’ve been derelict buildings.
Golden hour illumination
In truth I have visited The Port House twice — both times occuring on the same day!
I’m grateful to my wife for encouraging me to visit again during the evening, and to capture the building during golden hour. It was also an opportunity to capture the building from a different location — from across the canal that runs alongside the western elevation.
The photographer behind the lens
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