Winning Project – New Prison in Antwerp

Hootsmans is known for being an extraordinary architectural practice. I admire their projects, I admire their approach, and on top of that they’re just nice people. That’s why every time I see them call me, there’s a smile on my face and it was no different this time.

It is one of these ‘old school’ offices where they work in 2D and you have to translate those ideas into a 3D model. The 40,000 square meter complex should be ready at the beginning of 2025. There is room for 440 inmates. Due to the scale of the project and the amount of specs we had to book a whole month just for them. Within that time our task was to make a 3D model and based on that create 21 images. 11 exteriors and 10 interiors.

Although we had already done the images for the first round of the tender we were still surprised with the  amount of detail that one has to take into consideration when working on a prison project. Every building, every courtyard have to be carefully designed so the prisoners won’t hurt anybody, themselves or simply break out of jail. Even outside all trees have to be trimmed in a way that there are no branches up to 4meters high. Around the trunk there is a special collar with spikes preventing prisoners from climbing up the tree. As you can imagine there are no trees libraries that could fit those criteria so we had to make a 3D model of trees as well.

Architects have given us a lot of freedom when creating moods for the images. We are known for making neat perpendicular shots with clean lines. We love playing with image composition and light layering. The idea for this set of visualizations was to display a diversity of spaces in various weather conditions. It is not always possible to do so but due to the long time of project completion we had a chance to explore different options which in the end led us to a really complete set of images.

Finally after 3 weeks of modeling, texturing, collecting assets and distributing greenery we started rendering and post production of the images. Relatively easy task once more took us by surprise. Architects requested that all people in the images shouldn’t be holding phones or bags as they are not allowed inside the prison. Turns out that when selecting cutout people 75% of them have something in their hands. Luckily we do not rely on only one cut library and we have a green screen in our studio so with a bit more time than planned we managed to populate our visualizations.

After all I must say it. New Prison in Antwerp was the most challenging project we have ever completed but the result (1st prize) fully compensates for it. And isn’t that why we are in archbiz?

Filip Kurasz

Art Director