Right in the heart of Antwerp you will find the ‘Prince Leopold Institute for Tropical Medicine’. Like a living organism this institute has grown in parallel with the politica! and scientific developments of its time. The institute, which enjoys an international reputation mainly on the strength of its research, was established in 1931.
Architectural renewal has mainly taken the form of external decoration, and the building has been given sober Art Deco façades. The Tropical lnstitute is a ‘rich’ building: it is constructed of the very fine materials, and hence forms an excellent starting-point for further expansion.
During the 1960s, a period in which narrow rationalist thinking taak precedence over aesthetic considerations, alterations inflicted a great deal of damage on the building as a whole.
Since the early 1970s architects Storme Storkebaum Van Ranst have guided the furtner growth and redefinition of the building. Their design was based on a vision in which the original architecture forms the starting-point. Hence new wings or floors (expansion has mainly been vertical, in order to avoid filling up the garden with buildings) have been given a façade which corresponds aesthetically with the existing building.
Inside, elements such as the entrance hall, the grand staircase and the ‘Broden’ hall, which also defined the character of the original building, have been perfectly restored, while in the functional areas the emphasis is on light, comfort and efficiency for the users. The building is surrounded by a splendid ‘sunken garden’ in which the original design of ponds, fountains and paths can be clearly traced. Due to its rarity and importance for the aesthetic appeal of the building, the architects are infavour of restoring this.
The architects have the owner’s supports and encouragement in their vision of respect for the original building, which has been moulded and refined in the light of new insights and needs without losing its own specific character.