The Brussels Conservatory is being prepared for the future

A good start is half the battle

At the end of 2018, the design team Origin-A2RC-FVWWarchitecten, selected through an international architectural competition, started the indispensable preliminary studies, including a historical analysis of the site and the buildings; analysis of the existing state, stratigraphic and chromatic color research and acoustic tests. Due to extensive feasibility studies and interactive discussions with users, the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites, and the Brussels government, the design team was able to develop the project into a supported, sustainable and future-oriented design.

Restoration of Brussels’ heritage

The Brussels Conservatory opened at the end of 19e century and was designed by the architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar. The building has retained its original function to this day. The monumental concert hall with the Cavaillé-Coll organ has excellent acoustics and is characterized by natural zenithal daylight. Together with the director’s residence on the corner of Kleine Zavel and the adjoining secretary’s residence, it forms a unique monumental unit in Brussels. The entire ensemble will be restored and adapted to contemporary standards with high-performance acoustics. The monumental concert hall and foyers will regain their original splendor.

The grounds of the conservatory extend as far as the Wolstraat. The five houses, some dating back to the 17the century, was originally inhabited by the nobility of the city. The houses have often been transformed and adapted over time.

All interventions always take place with great respect for the architectural heritage.

Six gardens and a central connection

The design focuses on strong connection from Regentschapsstraat to Wolstraat. From the honor court on Regentschapstraat, visitors will be able to walk directly through to the new courtyard and the houses in Wolstraat. Six gardens bring structure to the site and bring natural daylight deep into the buildings. The open gardens contribute to climate resilience, increased biodiversity and allow rainwater to infiltrate naturally.

A new building in harmony

A new building is needed to meet the demand for additional music classes, additional concert halls and a high-quality, air-conditioned storage container. A powerful circulation concept ensures coherence and optimal function of the entire conservatory space. The design guarantees perfect accessibility for everyone, including people with a physical disability.

The new volumetry has its origins in the existing one. Ambient cornice heights and historic parcels drive the new building. The variations in cornice heights and the slightly sloping roofs ensure a respectful integration in the monumental place. The porcelain white facades reflect the sunlight into the inner garden and create a pleasant atmosphere.

In the new building, the characteristic axis of symmetry of the Cluysenaar building is continued towards the garden and enriched with a vertical axis in height. The new grand staircase with zenithal daylight connects the classrooms of the historic Cluysenaar building with the classrooms of the new building. Upstairs, the stairs end in a publicly accessible roof terrace. The new circulation concept ensures logical routing and guarantees optimal operation.

A high-performance educational infrastructure

music classes
On the floors of the Cluysenaar building, the design provides classrooms and music classes with modern comfort. The music classes have high-performance and adaptable acoustics. The music classes that produce great bass sounds (such as percussion) will fit in the new building. The new construction makes it possible to keep the heavy percussion sounds inside. Due to the adjustable acoustics, the classrooms have a great deal of flexibility in use.

Library, knowledge center and storage jar
The premises on the ground floor of the Cluysenaar building will be converted into the library and knowledge center. The historic interior is being restored. Students can also read in the new library, it is the Conservatory’s beating heart of knowledge. The extensive collection of historical scores and artifacts is stored under ideal conditions in a new underground depot. All facilities for proper archiving are provided in the design.

The new chamber music hall and rehearsal hall

Two new concert halls have been integrated into the new building.
The chamber music hall has a permanent set-up with a stand and can accommodate 150 spectators. The faceted wood wall cladding contributes to perfect room acoustics. Windows high in the room bring in natural daylight.
The rehearsal hall is strategically located instead between the large concert hall and the artist lodges in Wolstraat. The hall has a very large free height and creates a lot of volume. Sliding wooden wall coverings in combination with sound-absorbing curtains guarantee adjustable room acoustics. The rehearsal room has two large windows that open onto the garden.

Project progress

The next step is to submit the plan application by the end of this year. In the spring of 2023, the valuable organ in the large concert hall will be dismantled for restoration.

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