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DRDH wins Ghent concert hall contest

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DRDH Architects has won a competition to regenerate the historic Bijloke Concert Hall in Ghent, Belgium

The London practice – working with Julian Harrap Architects, Arup Theatre & Acoustics and engineers ABT and RCR – has been chosen to restructure the 800-seat venue in the heart of the university city.

The project, planned to complete next summer, will restore and upgrade the concert hall, which is based inside a 13th-century former abbey hospital. A smaller 250-seat recital hall, an old anatomical theatre and a library are also included within the complex.

According to a statement from the practice: ‘The proposal reinforces the potential of the Bijloke Concert Hall as a venue of international standard, able to host performances and performers of the highest calibre, across the spectrum of genres.

‘In terms of the Gothic hall, the intention is to arrive at a venue, which takes advantage of the particular qualities of the space as found, but augments them with the characteristic elements of contemporary classical concert spaces, of similar form and scale.

‘A new element is placed within the larger body of the hall. It is conceived as a finely made acoustic timber instrument, which tunes the existing space. The new insertion has a distinct architectural character, which is strong enough as an element to engage in a constructive dialogue with the scale and architecture of the existing hall.’

The appointment coincides with DRDH’s shortlisting for two other commissions within Belgium. The practice is competing against local teams in the contest for a £44 million student housing scheme for the University of Ghent, and a new campus for the product design faculty of the University of Antwerp.

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