thumb image

Forensic Psychiatric Center Antwerp is ready

From January 1st 2017 onwards, the Forensic Psychiatric Centre (FPC) of Antwerp will house 182 detainees with a high to middle high risk. The design of VK Architects & Engineers was recently delivered and is being handed over to the Ministry of Justice at the end of October.

The FPC as a building type came to life after Europe had condemned Belgium several times for putting detainees with mental problems in normal prisons. At the end of 2008, VK won the architectural competition for the FPC in Antwerp.

A closed institution in an open landscape

A well thought-out design translates the various treatment units to a specific architectural language and volumetry, within a consistent unity. The closed department is completely walled in and meets high security demands. This is translated in serene, orderly and sound architecture.

The central building gathers all communal functions, including the main entrance. The therapeutic functions are stacked in a tower volume, both creating a landmark and offering pleasant views for the detainees. A square links the building with the passing road, society with the closed institution.

The central block and closed department shield the open department from the busy E17 motorway and passing road. As a result, the open department can nestle itself in the green of the nearby nature reserve Burchtse Weel, facing the landscape. Lifted above surface level, it embraces the interaction with the elements of nature, while offering pleasant views.

VK Architects & Engineers and the Buildings Agency, the client, aimed for a maximum integration with the landscape, with the right balance between nature and building. The materialisation was tuned to the pallet of the surroundings, letting the buildings merge with the scenery.

Efficiency and security

The client insisted on a short construction time, so VK designed to enable a maximum of prefabrication: concrete beams, walls, façade cladding, indoor and outdoor joinery, including the sanitary cells and fixed furniture.

A close collaboration with the technical staff of the Ministry of Justice ensured external and internal security, including the delineation of the courtyards and the perimeter security.

This project has a price tag of 60 million euros. It was realised by contractor Denys, who had former experience with this building type as contractor of the FPC of Ghent.

Visit the project page for more pictures of the completed FPC.