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With the brief to remodel a 1950s concert hall embedded within a complex of historic buildings, we seized the opportunity not only to design an exemplary new symphonic concert hall but also to create a new public place for Antwerp. Our design response transforms the visitor experience, celebrating a sense of arrival and offering clear and legible circulation and wayfinding, together with world class acoustic performance within the new concert hall.

The new shoebox configuration of the auditorium, developed with renowned American acoustician Larry Kirkegaard, achieves optimum acoustic quality. By carving out space between the auditorium and the surrounding historic buildings, we created a soaring atrium and a sequence of intelligible and generous spaces. We also revealed the Art Nouveau façades of the previously concealed buildings, creating new visual connections across and through the complex and providing a historic counterpoint to the auditorium's contemporary façade which now asserts its presence in the atrium and the main entrance foyer.

Throughout the project we were inspired by the crafted nature of Antwerp's heritage and the delightful decorative details of the surrounding historic buildings. We reinterpreted and transposed this rich sense of materiality within our design proposals, exemplified in the auditorium's façade and its warm and intimate interior, and balanced to enhance the enjoyment of both world class classical and contemporary music and theatre.

Project information

  • Client

    Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Dierkunde (KMDA) and the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra

  • Status

    Built

  • Area

    28,000 sq m

  • Start

    2009

  • Completion

    2017

  • Consultants

    Structural Engineer: ABT
    Building Services Engineer: Marcq & Roba
    Acoustic Consultant: Kirkegaard Associates
    Theatre Consultant:CharcoalBlue
    Executive Architect & Cost Manager:Bureau Bouwtechniek
    Fire Strategy:Olsson Fire & Risk

  • Elements

    19th century listed buildings and façades
    New 2,100 seat auditorium
    Flexible conference rooms with catering and logistical support
    Public entrance foyers and atrium

  • Awards

    2019 Civic Trust Award - International Finalist
    2018 MSA Project of the Year - Winner
    2018 MSA Community - Built Project - Winner
    2018 AJ100 Building of the Year - Finalist
    2018 BCIA Exporting Expertise - Shortlisted
    2018 Building International Project of the Year - Shortlisted
    2018 RIBA International Prize - Longlisted
    2017 WAF Awards, Culture (Completed Buildings) - Finalist

Core Team

Details

Client Testimonial

Dries Herpolaert

Chief Executive Officer
KMDA

SimpsonHaugh’s design solutions displayed an inventiveness which I hadn’t experienced working with architects before. In particular, the imaginative configuration of spaces and volumes exploited opportunities for greater efficiency, as well as creating exciting visual links.

Client Testimonial

Joost Maegerman

General Manager
Antwerp Symphony Orchestra

A brand new high-spec building designed to accommodate nearly 2000 people in complete luxury, provide state-of-the art backstage facilities and offer performers outstanding acoustics – it’s every symphony orchestra’s dream, and for the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, it’s come true.

Location