Project description

Project in the framework of the Immovable Heritage Order, read the remark below

This project is being developed in collaboration with Foci, Fund for Cultural Infrastructure

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, Ghent city council and the Flemish authorities are looking for a strong design team to develop a master-plan and design for the multidisciplinary modification of the use of the opera building in the centre of Ghent. The intention is that well-considered, sustainable architecture should fit in seamlessly and enter into dialogue with the valuable heritage.


The opera house in Ghent was built in the social and commercial heart of the city in 1840. The unique L-shaped public section includes a peristyle, three ballrooms (Foyer, Redoute and Lully) and a theatre with 969 seats. This makes the building an essential part of the area linking Kouter, Koophandelsplein and Ketelvest.

The future acquisition of the former annex to the Law Courts on Koophandelsplein creates the unique opportunity to review the entire block in the light of the changing strategic objective for the site, which is the creation of a Music and Performing Arts Centre. Making the infrastructure available to several cultural partners is a definite choice.

Ghent city council owns the building and the sharing of its operational capabilities is one of its basic principles. By means of this project, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, its main user, is repositioning itself in the Flemish arts landscape. Operationally speaking, this leads to a change of use for the building: the site will be transformed from a production centre into a well-equipped presentation venue for several partners.

Together with the removal of accreted constructions, renovation and new building, the restoration of valuable heritage is intended to make sure that we can excel both operationally (for our staff) and in the realm of public heritage (audience).

Master-plan and design

The master-plan should make clear how the above objective can be achieved, on the one hand by means of the restoration and opening up of the protected areas and on the other by creating a new inner core, so that all the partners can use the infrastructure, a building and a theatre with ideal technical specifications. To make it usable in many different ways, it is absolutely essential to start from a modular concept that can be adapted in future. The master-plan must also provide for the completion of the work in stages, so that daily operations are hindered as little as possible.

The historically valuable parts of the building have to be restored and be possible to use separately. The management plan already completed provides for a clear vision of heritage values and secures them in management objectives. These form the basis of contemporary methods of use and implementation that are essential to making the rooms usable.

The change of purpose to a Music and Performing Arts centre brings with it new needs, with the result that existing infrastructure will have to be replaced. By means of renovation and new building, the rooms for the necessary logistical functions for this centre will be made available in the unprotected core of the former court building.

The master-plan should generate an all-embracing vision for the inner area, part of which introduces logic into the necessary means of circulation. In this vision, the removal of accretions in the inner core, the integration of the law courts annex, the possible demolition of certain parts of the dressing room block, and newly built volumes, should all be carefully weighed up changes that relate logically and with respect to the monument. In order to be able to be run sustainably, this public infrastructure will have to be an efficiently operating machine that pays attention to acoustics, ergonomics, seating comfort, and simplicity of management, safety and accessibility.

This implies that well-considered attention must be paid to the associated functions and the technical needs, such as the maximum programme for the technical stage installations, quick changes for the stage programmes, efficient loading and unloading, etc.

This is only possible if there is overall good accessibility in various areas, so that the public is given optimal access to all the public spaces and the staff are able to bring about optimal logistical service to all areas.

The master-plan lays down clear spatial specifications for the design of the Music and Performing Arts Centre. The master-plan is expected to bridge the gap between several crucial aspects so as to enable the Music and Performing Arts Centre to succeed in this urban context. The master-plan is to be drawn up on the basis of a number of obvious basic principles: 

  • Heritage: a vision is to be generated within the outlines of the existing Management Plan (handling of protected heritage).
  • Operations: a vision is to be generated within the outlines of existing written documents (operation of the Music and Performing Arts Centre).
  • Multiple use: all the parties involved have their own artistic identity with specific needs and wishes. These must be combined in the design.
  • Modularity: the principal wishes to take maximum advantage of this opportunity. Every change is to be reversible so that the building can be adapted in the long-term.
  • Sustainability: the principal wants to carry out a sustainable conversion that involves concrete objectives on energy performance and CO2compensation, whereby renewable energy, circular aspects and local building materials are the norm.

Following delivery of the master-plan, the selected design team will set to work on the implementation of the definitive design and the execution of the renovation and restoration of the building.

Object of the study assignment

The contract will be awarded through a public procurement for contracting services and includes the following sections:

Fixed part:

  • Full study assignment for the layout of the master plan and phasing of the Music and performing arts center

Conditional part:

  • Complete architectural assignment for the design of the realization of the expansion, renovation and restoration of the opera complex in Ghent, including the supervision and control of the execution of the works.
  • Within this conditional part, there is a fixed part that relates to the renovation and restoration of the opera complex in Ghent. The conditional part of the conditional assignment includes the renovation of the annex building of the justice building that still needs to be acquired.


Fixed part : Masterplan en fasering 

  • Layout of the Masterplan : €100.000 excl. VAT                                 

Conditional part : design, renovation and restoration

  • General fee basis : 10% - 14% (excl. VAT, incl. architecture, stability, technical installations, restoration, acoustics, technical stage installations, site coordination, safety coordination, EPB, excl. archaeological research)

Allocation Criteria

  1. The quality of the concept and vision and of the research by design, checked against the aims and expectations of the public principal as formulated in the specifications, and this:
    a. in a broad social framework
    b. more functionally applied to the users’ practical requirement
    c. in relation to the heritage/monument
  2. The process-orientation, process-readiness and the views on site monitoring.
  3. Sustainability
  4. the estimate and cost control of the project cost and the feewith the indication of which services are provided for the proposed fee.
  5. the team composition (the enrolling team must have sufficient knowledge and experience with regard to the restoration of valuable exteriors and interiors, see Article 11.5.2 of the Immovable Heritage Decree)

The respective weighting of the criteria is as follows: 4 / 3 / 2 / 2 / 1

A Project under the Immovable Heritage Act

For the restoration work on the monument, the city council wants to apply for heritage grants, higher than 50%, in accordance with the procedures of the Flemish authorities. To do this, it has to comply with the Flemish Government Order of 12 July 2013 concerning the Immovable Heritage Act. For this project, the designer will therefore be appointed in accordance with a modified Open Call procedure.

In concrete terms, what this means is that candidates will have to demonstrate in their portfolio their expertise for this exceptional heritage project on the basis of, at the very least, the elements stated in Article 11.5.2. of the Immovable Heritage Act of 16 May 2014 that deals with quality:

1° when designers and contractors are engaged, account must be taken of the following points, as a minimum:

a) the relevant studies and professional qualifications

b) the overall expertise regarding the specific project assignment

c) a statement of the least part of the assignment that the designer or contractor will carry out under their own management

2° the design assignment, comprising the drawing up of management plans, the prior research studies, and the management measures, works or services on protected property and heritage landscapes is awarded on the basis of, at least, the allocation criteria above (see Allocation Criteria)

Gent OO3602

All-inclusive study assignment to draw up a master-plan for the Music and Performing Arts Centre and to execute the expansion, renovation and restoration of the opera complex in Ghent

Project status
Selected agencies
  • BAS / Dirk Jaspaert, DRDH Architects
  • Atelier Kempe Thill architects and planners, Origin Architecture & Engineering
  • Bennetts Associates
  • Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven, Julian Harrap Architects LLP
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture OMA

Schouwburgstraat 3, 9000 Gent

Timing project
  • Selection: 4 Oct 2018
  • First briefing: 16 Jan 2019
  • Second briefing: 13 Feb 2019
  • Submission: 3 May 2019
  • Jury: 17 May 2019

Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen Ballet Vlaanderen

contact Client

Jan Kuppens

Contactperson TVB

Anne Malliet


Design contest followed by a negotiated procedure without publication of a contract notice

External jury member

Dirk De Meyer


Between €60.000.000 and €75.000.000 (Subsidizing government: FoCI) (excl. VAT) (excl. Fees)


Fixed part : Masterplan and phasing: €100.000 excl. VAT / Conditional part : general fee basis : 10% - 14% (excl. VAT)

Awards designers

€65,000 (incl. VAT) per candidate, 5 selected candidates


Selectiebeslissing en selectieverslag OO3602