The existing 1950s concert hall was very poor acoustically and also 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.