I was a happy guest at GAST
Antwerp is a town riddled with artists and therefor, a hotspot of all things new and creative. The most well-known area for bumping into a famous Belgian (musicians, actors, etc.) is the popular South Quarter ("Het Zuid"). But what a lot of people tend to look past, is that there is a lot more - hidden - talent spread over different parts of town too. Like GAST.
The project GAST in the Oude Beurs building is a true hub for artistic talents that are just outside of the popular mainstream circuit. The building in itself if an architectural pearl of Antwerp, with the famous ‘Pagaddertoren’ as a center piece that has been visited by tourists for many years.
But now things are different! Together with the company Co-Labs and art hub KOP, art organization Fameus decided it was time to do more with the space at hand. As the buildings had been empty for years in wait of much-needed renovations, the city of Antwerp decided to let the three organizations use the rooms to create a project that would benefit the neighborhood and local artists. Thus began: GAST.
The word ‘gast’ means ‘guest’ and is a pretty strong reference to the core value of the building: to provide a place where artists, creative professionals, locals and tourists can come together and create stuff. On one side there is the artist’s workspaces: rooms and ‘workshops’ that are housed by artists selected by both Co-Labs and KOP VZW, a local organization who wants to be a platform and helping hand for artists, both locally and international. The workshops are used to create art pieces to be shown in a big exposition in August. These range from visual artists, to performers to painters and sculptors. Co-labs try (and succeed) to provide a space for young professionals to meet up and start up projects together. There are co-working spaces as well as comfy couches to sit in. All of the co-working space was created by young local architects who tried to used what materials they could find in the building. Upcycling is big and present!
The bar might be the best example of the upcycle mentality. Made out of reclaimed wood and pallets, the bar gives a nonchalant, yet modern feel to the ground floor. It is open to the public and drinks are at very democratic prices.
Lastly, the representation of the neighboring community can’t be ignored. From the quite new Syrian community to aspiring young philosophers, GAST tries to provide a place for everyone and is open for suggestions and activities organized by the locals who walk past their halls every day.
GAST will be open for the public until the end of September and is just a stone’s throw away from our famous town hall. You might come for the Pagaddertoren, but you’ll stay for the million other things to do and see.
Text by Joke Tourné
Pics by Mathias Hannes