By Jochen Vandenbergh
Antwerp – By late 2010 the Queen Elisabeth Hall must be a concert hall and a congress of international appeal. The architects Ian Simpson have won the long anticipated renovation contract.
“The new Queen Elisabeth Hall will be appreciated by everyone.” With those words, Prime Minister Kris Peeters praised the winning design by Ian Simpson Architects and Kirkegaard Associates. “This will become an international meeting place of entertainment and culture, a landmark for Flanders and the city of Antwerp.”
The KMDA, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, announced the winner of a design contest for the total renovation of the Hall yesterday. The construction contract for the offices of deFilharmonie will also be tackled by the Manchester practice. Towards late 2012, Ian Simpson Architects will transform the Queen Elisabeth Hall hall into a high quality classical concert hall, an international congress and the home of the Philharmonic symphony orchestra. Ian Simpson’s design was chosen from more than 60 candidates.
“The Queen Elisabeth Hall should stand as a public, innovative place,” says architect Ian Simpson. “The concert itself is a bit smaller for better acoustics and natural daylight penetration.”
The design of Simpson pulls the Queen Elisabeth Hall also out of its isolation. The plan is a connection to the Astrid Square, and of course Carnot Street and the Zoo. “This will become the best and most beautiful congress centre in Flanders with a unique high-speed train connection.” said Rudy Van Eysendeyk, CEO of KMDA, enthusiastically.
The Flemish government is investing 57.2 million euros in the renovation. If everything goes well, the work can start next year. The KMDA is planning for the Queen Elisabeth Hall to be closed during the 2011-2012 concert season.