THE ABANDONED WAREHOUSES IN BELGIUM
The ‘Montevideo Magazijnen’ are a series of twenty-two brick sheds were built in 1895 and named after the ships that sailed out to Rio de la Plata. These 12.000 square meter big halls are located in the neighbourhood of Het Eilandje, a part of the old port of Antwerpen.
The halls were built in the industrial style that is specific to the port of Antwerpen. In detail the warehouses were built in steel with large wooden walls and a cobblestone floor. The buildings were designed by Frans De Winter, architect of the city Antwerpen. The site was built on a rectangular floor plan of 12 thousand square meter with 22 individually accessible warehouses. It is situated at the old city harbor, built by Napoleon Bonaparte. He had ‘Le grand & Le petit Bassin’ constructed to replace the old waterways in order to rebuild Antwerp into a war port.
Until 1950 they were used by its last owner, the English army. They stored not only food, but also cigarettes and coffee in the halls. The classic saw roofs kept the light out and therefore kept the products fresh. The site was abandoned in the 1950s, although between 1981 and 1984, the dry dock was transformed into a hub for ambitious exhibitions and performances.
During our visit the buildings were in a bad state. The warehouses were protected as a monument in 2001. In 2011 the halls were stripped. Renovation eventually started in 2019. The warehouses will be restored to their former glory by a private developer. The typical façade and roofs of the building will undergo a thorough renovation, according to a design by architect Chris Poulissen. I visited the ‘Montevideo magazijnen’ in 2007.