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LOCATION / Brussels, Belgium

CLIENT / Régie des Bâtiments Direction Bruxelles-Capitale


AREA / 34 800 sqm above ground (1 250seats)

PROGRAM / Opera House

PROJECT / 1983 - 1985

STATUS / Built 1986

The symbolic importance of Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie represents far more in the public mind than a venue for operatic performances; it should not be forgotten that behind the eight columns supporting its peristyle, on 25 August 1830, at a performance of The Mute Girl of Portici, a riot broke out which triggered the Belgian Revolution. When the architects started working, the architectural objective was twofold. It was designed to be the best possible venue for production of operatic performances, in the setting of an Italianate theatre, while retaining the aesthetic characteristics of a monument whose configuration, constraints and history lead to a classic spatial organisation. Secondly, it was necessary for the presence of the theatre and its extensions to fit within the urban fabric, without conflicting with the elements of the past or masking the contemporary additions. The solution chosen makes use of the raising of the roofline by 4 metres, implementing an architectural solution which enhances the building's identity with a parallelepipoid which prolongs and brings out the main structure of the existing building – a pure volume as a sign of continuity of the classical architecture and respect for the old building. This new identity expresses its role and its content in the design and continuity of its façades, at the front, the new foyer, a complex area on several levels; on the side, the rigorous rhythm of the windows of the new offices; at the rear, the stage house expresses the imperatives of its function through the total absence of apertures, except the emergency exits of the rear gable wall. Finally, in addition to its obvious function for collecting the water from the roof, and its architectural function of crowning the building, the blue enamelled cornice highlights the arrangement of the building and adds the finishing touch.

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