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The existing 1950s concert hall was very poor acoustically and offered a cheerless visitor experience with confused circulation and little sense of arrival or occasion. The new auditorium, developed with renowned American acoustician Larry Kirkegaard, provided an opportunity to address these issues with a clear and powerful intervention.

The 'shoebox' configuration that we developed achieved optimum acoustic quality within a smaller volume, allowing us to carve out space between the auditorium and the surrounding historic buildings. Within this reclaimed space we created a soaring atrium and a sequence of intelligible and generous spaces, radically improving the visitor experience and enhancing the pleasure of sharing fine music. We also revealed the splendid Art Nouveau façades of the previously concealed buildings, creating new visual connections across the complex and providing a historic counterpoint to the auditorium's striking 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 into our design, exemplified in the auditorium's façade and its warm and intimate interior, perfectly balanced to enhance the enjoyment of world class classical and contemporary music and theatre.

Project information

  • Client

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

  • Status


  • Area

    28,000 sq m

  • Start


  • Completion


  • 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

    2018 RIBA International - Shortlisted
    2017 WAF Awards, Culture (Completed Buildings) - Finalist

Core Team


Client testimonial

Dries Herpolaert

Chief Executive Officer

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.