Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Culture

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Architecture studio SimpsonHaugh have completed a renovation of one of Belgium’s most important cultural landmarks, the Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp


The Belgian concert venue had its soft launch over a year ago – and has since picked up a nomination for Cultural Building of the Year – but has only just officially opened. It is located within the Elisabeth Centre, a 19th-century Art Nouveau cultural complex that includes Antwerp Zoo, one of Europe’s oldest attractions.

Before its transformation, the hall had become known for its poor sound quality and separation from the zoo – a result of a previous conversion in the 1950s repairing damage inflicted during the Second World War.

In 2009, the society that owns both the zoo and the wider complex announced plans to breathe new life into the site, creating a concert hall “to rival the best in the world”.

Complex constraints
Architectural practice SimpsonHaugh were commissioned to improve comfort levels and acoustic quality, bring in more natural light and forge a more harmonious relationship with the historic adjoining buildings.

The constraints facing the architectural team were complex: the site is a historic monument, there are important interfaces with other cultural activities, and a fixed budget and tight construction programme were set.

The studio collaborated with acoustic specialists Kirkegaard Associates to alter the layout of the interiors, improving sound quality and circulation.

“While the overall boundaries of the hall were defined by its location at the heart of the existing historic buildings, the design team explored various configurations for the new room within this envelope,” said Anthony McCreery, collaborating consultant at Kirkegaard.

“We employed a variety of techniques, including physical and computer modelling to optimise and refine the room geometry and finishes.”

Stuart Mills, partner at SimpsonHaugh, added: “We chose a ‘shoebox’ configuration, as that allowed us to insert a dramatic atrium between the new and existing structures.

“An innovative concrete frame reconciles the very high acoustic mass necessary for the hall with the need for column-free space below. By contrast, a lightweight steel structure spans between the auditorium and a carefully restored Art Nouveau façade, allowing sunlight to flood the foyers.”

A focus on the sound
To improve the acoustics of the space, an acoustically transparent bronze mesh has been installed across the ceiling and balconies.

Rather than being reflected, sound energy is allowed to pass through the mesh to reach the hall’s walls, engaging with the full volume of the space. The mesh also forms a cladding for the reflectors, which can be adjusted to fine-tune the room’s acoustics, and is complemented by retractable fabric banners that can be deployed to vary the reverberation time in the room. Visually, it serves as a shimmering backdrop to the orchestra, with its appearance changing according to the lighting conditions.

In the rest of the building, a new public space has been created on the ground floor that connects the site’s different cultural activities, restoring the lost link with the zoo. Original 19th-century murals have been restored, and the new-look foyers have been designed to complement the hall’s aesthetics with natural finishes such as timber, travertine and bronze.

The Queen Elisabeth concert hall now provides a home for the resident Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and visiting international orchestras.

SimpsonHaugh have worked on numerous residential and cultural projects across Europe, most notably on the one million sq ft first phase of London’s Battersea Power Station.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
featured supplier
Featured Supplier: CSI Design Expo Americas 2024 announces new Attractions & Entertainment Technology Zone
Cruise Ship Interiors (CSI) invites cruise lines, shipyards, design studios, outfitters, and suppliers to take part in CSI Design Expo Americas in Miami, Florida, the region’s only event dedicated to cruise ship interior design.
company profile
Company profile: Gharieni Group
The Gharieni Group, based in Germany, is a leading European manufacturer of high-end spa and medical equipment with almost 30 years of experience.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Atelier Ten are providing environmental consulting services for the Downtown Doha masterplan, which includes a hotel, shopping mall and spa
Atelier Ten's Younha Rhee
"Pushing for more daylighting has led to overglazed buildings in the last two decades where visual comfort has been compromised"

Designing buildings that support wellbeing is a growing trend which will transform the way we think about architecture says Younha Rhee

Ed Ng and Terence Ngan founded AB Concepts in 1999 in Hong Kong. The practice has three offices
Ed Ng
"Of all hospitality design, we feel that F&B is the most fun. You can be creative and it’s where you get all the limelight"

When ABConcept’s co-founder got The brief for the Four Seasons’ Mei Ume restaurant, he jumped straight on the plane to London. He tells us why

The Gallery in Mourad Mazouz's Sketch is one of London's most instagrammed spaces
After working for Christian Liaigre in Paris, Mahdavi launched her practice in 1999
"I never thought it was a talent. I just did it very naturally, without thinking"

The ‘queen of colour’ on her nomadic childhood, being fearless and choosing the exact right shade of pink for the Sketch Gallery restaurant

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
In Isono’s main dining room, exposed steel structural columns have been kept in their raw form
Joyce Wang has built a reputation for her luxury interiors
"A project should make people dream and ponder and intellectually think about the space"

The Hong Kong designer's latest project

features
"Curiosity drives us and I think we all have a little bit of the geek within us"

The innovative new materials shaping the future of architecture

Interview: Olga Polizzi
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

The 12,700sq m Espace Danse complex is being built in and around Montreal’s old Wilder Building
"A vast yet understated investment in cultural institutions and tourist infrastructure is taking place without lavish budgets, starchitects or international fanfare"

The amazing projects transforming Canada’s second city

cladkit product news
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
cladkit product news
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
Technogym
Technogym