Introduction – Fort VI located in Wilrijk (University of Antwerp) is home to several recreational associations. Next to student societies a museum of the special forces of the Belgian Army is located on the site. Because the university has expanded during the last decade the demand for new accommodation became more urgent. After fruitful negotiations under auspices of ORC-A it was agreed upon that the caponniere of Fort VI would be restored. It would be the future home to the university’s sports association.
MiLANT contributed to this project by showing how a restored caponniere would look like. In an initial phase the whole building, walls and vaults were measured using laser meters. Based on some indicative drawings and maps an illustrator file (scale 1 to 1) was made and imported in Sketchup. Normally 3DSMax would be used to do most of the virtual reconstruction but this was not possible because of the agreed deadline. The model was ported into Octane Render and some native material was applied (based on initial Substance Designer files made earlier). The final results were presented to the university and the special forces association. Some months later the caponniere welcomed a wider audience.
Description – Fort VI is located near the community of Wilrijk. It is a classic star-shaped brick Brialmont fort. It was built to protect the city of Antwerp from bombardement.
Construction & Armament – Fort VI is one of the two forts in Wilrijk (Antwerp). It is considered to be a standard brick work Brialmont defensive structure. This fort features a wet moat (partly filled up), a caponnière, two halve caponnière galleries and a central reduit. Just before the great war it was reenforced with (unarmed) concrete since it became part of the veiligheidstelling (security defense line). A nearby railroad offered logistics.
Current condition – When the Academic Institution of Antwerp (Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen) was erected the fort was transferred to semi-public ownership. The Belgian Army left the site in 1973. Today it is still owned by the University of Antwerp (Universiteit Antwerpen). The fort is partly severely damaged by lack of upkeep and maintenance. Some parts have been restored (caponnière) to excellent condition, others are restored with limited regard to the original fort design (main building entrance features Aesculapia coat of arms instead of Leopold I of Belgium). Several recreational societies (student associations, sports and special forces museum) are located in the main building. Visiting parts of the fort is possible upon request. Part of the moat has been filled with dirt and the half caponnieres are not publicly accessible. A student dorm was built close to the main entrance (filled with dirt). The central reduit is in very bad condition because of lack of maintenance of water draining. WARNING: visiting the central reduit is prohibited and considered dangerous.
Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; De Wit, G.