Image: Antwerp Diamond Bourse trading hall – copyright

For more than 100 years, the Antwerp Diamond Bourse has been an established diamond trading venue in Antwerp and far beyond. For some years now, the large, prestigious trading hall has been used less and less for its initial purpose; evaluating and trading precious stones. It is now mainly used by older members as a meeting place.

Diamond trading, like many other businesses, has changed greatly in recent years due to the digitization of trading, new means of communication, the corona pandemic,…

There is an increasing amount of trading through other ways and channels than in the physical exchanges. Therefore, the board of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse was looking for new functions and ways to use the trading hall.

Initially, a new program of requirements had be drawn up within the context and history of the hall.

Thus, VIVA Architecture, together with the board, distinguished three “functions” that could continue in the trading hall.

The first was to create space for “open meetings” such as informal conversations, chats, chess games between the members of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse. These actions usually do not relate to the trading of diamonds themselves, but more to the trading floor as a meeting place of like-minded people.

The bourse hall should also accommodate “business meetings.” This is what the trading hall was initially built for, the trading and evaluation of diamonds.

And finally, “closed meetings.” These should continue in a closed (acoustically and visually) environment within the trading hall of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse. Here, private conversations can be held outside the public sphere. In addition to these three functions, the main hall should also be able to be used for large events such as lectures, exhibitions,….

To accommodate all functions within the exhibition hall, 3 zones were created.

This was based on the circulation and walking lines through the hall. Closed and private meetings are located where there is little or no passage, while open meetings take place in busier zones.

To give these zones their own identity and character and to direct the circulation within the hall, VIVA Architecture placed a large mobile piece of furniture diagonally. In addition to atmosphere and appearance for the hall, the furniture provides the user with light, privacy and comfort.

With a central plant box with a long light line above it, the furniture screens off certain areas of the exhibition hall. To this furniture Viva Architecture linked different functions. At the entrance to the exhibition hall, the furniture becomes a deep comfortable seat with tables, chairs and armchairs around it. This is where the “open meetings” take place. This zone, with comfortable seats, coffee tables and ottomans offers the user the opportunity to relax and meet other members.

In the quieter zone at the back of the room, the furniture turns into a table around which private conversations can take place. The private character is enhanced by the greenery in the plant boxes that visually shield parts of the room.

At the edge of the room they placed a number of closed volumes where confidential meetings can take place. Because of the private character of these conversations, seclusion and confidentiality are very important, acoustically and visually. Therefore, acoustic curtains are hung throughout the volumes. These offer visual privacy but also ensure optimal acoustics. In addition, the volumes are positioned so that views are limited. The circulation to these volumes is also be positioned to minimize the number of casual passers-by.

The elongated furniture is divided into several smaller parts to make it easier to move. This allows it to be partially pushed aside to create a large open space for large events.

The neoclassical hall makes extensive use of white marble, wood and ornately rendered wall and ceiling ornaments in plaster. The furniture is materialized within the same luxurious framework. VIVA Architecture used walnut wood as a finish for the furniture, covered the seats with green velvet and the closed volumes with a golden brass. In this way, the new additions and the hall form a single entity of luxury and style, which the Antwerp Diamond Bourse represents.