Concert Hall, Bruges, Belgium

On ‘t Zand, an open urban space near the station in Bruges, Robbrecht and Daem built a concert hall for Bruges when it was the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2002. Alongside the Halletoren, the Church of Our Lady and St Salvator’s Cathedral, this ‘Concertgebouw’ has become a landmark when driving into the city. A uniform external cladding in terracotta tiles hangs like dignified drapery over the volumes of the concert hall, fly tower and lantern tower, and accentuates the monolithic mass of the building. The concert hall, with its 1.300 seats, can be converted into a theatre for musical productions. The lantern tower contains a remarkable chamber music hall where about 320 people can look down on the musicians on the floor or look out over the city from seating in a rising spiral.
The Bruges Concertgebouw anchors its site and consolidates a previously frayed edge, to establish a new landmark when entering the historic city. Its dynamic form is visually distinct from its context and yet works in conjunction with it, both spatially and materially, to establish a coherent sequence of urban spaces. A uniform exterior cladding of terracotta tiles hangs like dignified drapery, bringing together the widely varying volumes required by the building’s programme and drawing them into dialogue with both domestic and infrastructural neighbours. With outstanding acoustics, it 1300 seat main auditorium offers a flexible environment for opera and classical performance that nonetheless succeeds in creating a very specific atmosphere; defined by sloping timber panelled walls, the curving, rhythmical forms of cast plaster balcony fronts and the two high level windows that cast rays of sunlight deep into its interior. A second chamber space, for 350 people, is an innovative multilevel performance environment that can also act as part of an extended foyer sequence, allowing new audience / performer relationships to be explored.
Developed in collaboration with Arup Acoustics, the Bruges Concert Hall houses two auditoria, connected by a dynamic sequence of foyer spaces. The route through the foyers forms a promenade architecturale, arranged around a void in a manner that recalls Hans Scharoun’s Berlin Philharmonic. Adjacent to the entrance, at the start of this sequence, the 350 capacity chamber music hall takes the form of an inner court around which one can walk, with open boxes rising in a spiral. This original space offers new challenges and opportunities for musicians, in dialogue with their audience. The main 1300 seat concert hall can be converted into a theatre suitable for operatic productions, utilising moveable stage towers that create an orchestra shell within a larger stage and fly tower. The form of the hall is analogous to that formed when someone cups their hands round their mouth to make their voice carry further. Developed through exhaustive study with Arup’s acousticians, this unusual, dynamic form offers exceptional acoustic qualities, producing a synthesised yet analytical sound. To create intimacy, the maximum distance from stage to listener is 30 metres, while angled side-walls of serrated plaster panels enhance the sense of involvement with the stage.
Concertgebouw Brugge vzw
Robbrecht en Daem architecten
concert hall, fly tower and a chamber music hall
Bruges, Belgium
Floor Area
17.250 m2
Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem, Piet Crevits, William Mann, Wim Walschap, Matthias Baeten, Gilberte Claes, Els Claessens, Sofie Delaere, Jan D'haenens, Brigitte D'hoore, Shin Hagiwara, Michel Seeger, Gert Swolfs, Pieter Vandendries, Freddy Maenhoudt
Art Intervention
Dirk Braeckman, Luc Tuymans, Philip Van Isacker, Peter Verhelst
Project Manager
Coördinatiebureau De Brock
Structural Engineering
Services Engineering
Wirtz International
Arup Acoustics
Jan De Nul
Nominations / Awards
2003 – Nomination European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award
Technical Control
Van Assche & Van Langenhove