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Carmody Groarke wins contest to extend Ghent’s Design Museum

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Carmody Groarke has seen off fellow UK practice Assemble to win the €7.5 million job to extend the Design Museum in Ghent, Belgium

Also shortlisted were Belgium’s aNNo architecten, Bel Architecten, and Office Kersten Geers of Brussels. 

The Carmody Groarke team includes emerging local practice TRANS architectuur | stedenbouw set up by Bram Aerts and Carolien Pasmans in 2011.

The two-stage ‘Baumeister’ competition was run by the Flemish Government Architect as part of its biannual ‘open call’ for teams to complete a range of major public schemes. The scheme will create a wing on an unused 372m² piece of land next to the museum on Drabstraat.

According to Carmody Groarke, the 2,000m² wing building will create a ‘distinctive new architectural figure for the city of Gent which faces outwards in all directions from its tight-grained historic context’.

The extension is described as a new ‘house’ which provides spaces at each level for exhibition, events and archiving while filling a ‘gap in the set-piece of the picturesque streetscape and linking the museum spaces of new and old architecture in one continuous circulation loop around the central courtyard’.

The practice said the appearance of the building at ground level would be ‘deliberately very open to encourage exploration and chance encounter of a passer-by to enter the museum and explore its collection.’

The competition-winning design features a loft gallery which is being billed as a ‘new public living-room for the city with the ad-hoc roofscape of Gent’.

The museum, Flanders’ only museum of design, sits in the city’s historical heart and occupies three buildings: Hotel de Coninck, an 18th-century town mansion; a wing built in 1992; and Leten House with a 16th-century core.

Carmody Groarke’s scheme will ‘complete the puzzle’, uniting the existing complex of buildings and becoming ’the final piece of the museum’.

Practice co-founder Andy Groarke said: ‘Museums are facing increasing challengers to connect visitors to their collections. We were therefore very inspired by Design Museum Gent’s ambition to create a new building that makes a visit to their museum relevant, inviting and accessible to all.

‘We wanted to create a building that is civic in character at both street level and on the Gent skyline.’

Work could start on site in 2021 and potentially complete by the end of 2023.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • How exactly is this 'civic in character....on the Ghent skyline'?
    Is reference to 'the ad-hoc roofscape of Ghent' intended to justify something that would appear to be rather higher than its 'ad-hoc' milieu, if image 4/6 is the view from the top floor?

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  • Don't be so miserable! They have even put a cornice on the elevation to tie the buildings together - a planner's default that works very well on this occasion. Your comment about scale is what one would expect from a greenhorn planner, even though the form of the new design seems from the illustrations to be both imaginative and appropriate

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