Project Description


Podiumkunstensite, competition for a new center for performing arts in a historical setting in Leuven.

Together with Mexican practice Productora, we were invited to this ambitious competition for the city of Leuven. On the site of a former hospital, the new center for performing arts is expected to create a cultural hotspot in this new inner city development, in close harmony with th historical Augustinessen cloister. The city aimed to build an innovative and flexible infrastructure for performing arts, and to create in one move a public anchor point in the city, a “third space” where the performing arts become part of everyday city life.

Starting from the specific location at the historic city wall between two branches of the Dyle river, we designed a compact building block that responds to this context. The heart of the project is a large public space, in tension between the historical fabric of the cloister and the new building : an active urban foyer that becomes the pivotal point of the site. The building is conceived as a matrix of functions, with a very clear organisation (foyer / perfomance halls / backstage ) that allows a very flexible and unconventional use of the building. Two large guillotine walls at both sides of the stage make it possible to open up the stage in the transversal direction, and allow a whole new use. The traditional dichotomy between public side and backstage is surpassed, the logistical and production spaces are part of the public experience of the building.

A double internal and external staircase winds up through the different levels of the foyer, and arrives on the accessible rooftop level, activating the building all day long.

Hand drawing by Evens Brecht

status: competition (second prize)
program: Cultural spot with two performance halls
area: 15.000 m²
location: Brusselstraat, Leuven, Belgium
year: 2018
budget : 36.000.000 €
co-conception team :
ARCHITECTURE : Ouest/ Productora
ACOUSTICS : Kahle acoustics
SCENOGRAPHY : Artscéno / The Space Factory