Koningin Elisabethzaal Concert Hall Redesign

August 14, 2018

The Koningin Elisabethzaal, located in Antwerp, Belgium, is unique in every aspect. Located at the heart of the city center, the concert hall opened its doors in 1897 and has hosted an immensely varied history of performances.

In its history, the concert hall served more than just performances. During WWI, the building served as a hospital ward, and later hosted boxing and wrestling during the 1920 summer Olympics. The concert hall was reopened in 1960 after major deconstruction following WWII.

World-Class Concert Acoustics

The fan-shaped building, although multi-faceted, was never fully intended to be a concert hall. Because of this, the acoustics greatly suffered, achieving only six out of ten points on the standard acoustic rating scale. When it was decided to finally redesign the building, one goal was to finally offer a home to the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. It was time to rebuild. With acoustics being top of mind, Kirkegaard Associates knew it was time to reach out to GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG.

A Partner from the Onset

Prior to selecting the materials used for the redesign, Kirkegaard Associates carried out extensive tests on acoustic materials, including GKD’s acoustic products, to ensure the chosen product helped to provide the best possible sound and space experience. The decisive factor in opting for GKD’s metal fabric was the acoustic neutrality. Additionally, the look, flexibility and robust quality of GKD’s fabric measured up to the ambitious design concept of the hall.

Once chosen, GKD was involved in the planning process with the architects and acousticians from an early stage

When redesigning the concert hall, the planners first decided to reduce its size to optimize acoustics. A shoebox design was chosen, as classical music lovers deem that design to guarantee optimum acoustics.

Acoustic Overhaul

One of the many elements aimed to enhance acoustics in the hall are movable reflectors suspended from the ceiling clad in metal fabric. The same fabric covers frames throughout, including the back wall of the stage, to ensure sound unfolds through the entire building.

For the ceiling and stage wall, GKD installed gold-colored, powder-coated Alu 6010 metal fabric. A total of 204 frames, some wave-shaped, were fitted totaling 1,600 square meters of fabric. Ceiling fabric was fitted with cutouts for lights measured exactly to specifications.

To fit the balustrades of the hall galleries, GKD selected its Omega 1520 fabric with gold-color coated weft. The fabric was flexible to the bidirectional-curved corners of the balustrade while remaining resistant to impact. When fitting the front and rear of the balustrade elements with 400 square meters of this fabric GKD selected a slightly conical panel cut to follow the curve exactly.

Acoustic Achievement

With help from GKD Metal Fabrics, the interaction between the design of the hall, the ceiling, wall coverings and balustrade provides excellent acoustics. Now, the concert hall achieves a 9.3 out of 10 on the rating scale, a vast improvement to the previous 6 out of 10.

At the hall’s opening concert, Belgium’s Queen Mathilde personally handed over the world-class hall to the public, making it truly fit for a queen.

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