Robbrecht & Daem sought the right proportions for the new facade – structured from horizontal lines and vertical cylindrical elements – on Hopland and the Rubens Garden side, in order to reference the rich building traditions of Italian palazzi. This creates a uniform whole between the new facades, which responds in turn to the facade of the Rubens House. Where the existing city block turns its back on the garden, 13 Hopland aims to provide the garden with a facade that responds to the one the Rubens House itself presents. This new facade will be designed in an abstract way that will not detract from the prestigious Rubens House. The use of round elements creates a fascinating play of light in the building, both during the day and at dusk and at night.
13 Hopland will be an easily ‘readable’ and very accessible reception building, equipped with all necessary facilities. Two monumental spiral staircases will begin from the ground floor. The stairs to the underground level will provide access to a multimedia experience centre on Rubens and the locale where he lived and worked. The stairs leading up will take visitors to the museum café where they can relax. From this level, a third staircase will wind its way up to the research institute’s public reading room, where interested museum-goers, library users and researchers can immerse themselves in the world of Rubens and his contemporaries. The back-office functions will be located above these three public building layers.