Saturday, 12 November 2011

Genius loci: Draakplaats

Most large cities have a location like this one in Antwerp where transport arteries intersect and dominate the sense of place. Six roads converge on this point and pass under the railway arches that carry freight traffic between Brussels, Antwerp and Rotterdam. The sepulchral gloom below the arches provides shelter for passengers waiting for the number 11 tram that links the city centre with the south eastern suburbs. Immediately to the south of Draakplaats is the up-market residential district of Zurenborg and an extensive city bus depot of absolutely zero architectural merit. On the north side, to east and west, are two older buildings into which tramlines run and in the centre, a substantial ornate bar and restaurant. There’s also a private access road leading to the freight yards with two vintage water towers adjacent. All this curious infrastructure adds up to a very strange sense of dislocation from the normal rhythms of the city. Road traffic is unnaturally light and the soundtrack is supplied by the thunderous rumble of trains overhead and the metallic squeal of tram wheels. A small selection of photographs follows below – there will be a future posting on the fantastical architecture of nearby Zurenborg.

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