The Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp underwent a drastic transformation and reopened in 2017. With international allure in terms of versatility and acoustics, this location was once again put on the map as a cultural landmark. Sweco also collaborated on this unique project: the Elisabeth Center Antwerp.


Location: Antwerp

Client: KMDA – Royal Society of Zoology Antwerp vzw

Period: 2011- 2017 (start works: 2014)

Services: Buildings’ technical equipment and monitoring of work

Disciplines: HVAC, electricity, sanitary installations, fire protection, kitchen and lifts

Partners: SimpsonHaugh Architects (UK)

In 1960, the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Hall, close to Antwerp’s Zoo and Central Station, was converted from a banquet hall to a concert hall. Over the years the hall became outdated and hardly ever even managed to score 6 out of 10 in terms of acoustics. In 2011, it was resolutely decided for a completely new construction project: the Elisabeth Center Antwerp, fully integrated with the surrounding, protected buildings. The concert hall was the icing on the cake of the brand new congress centre and was given the name Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre Antwerp.

The end result was a stately and flexible building, designed by the architectural firm of SimpsonHaugh (UK). The multifunctional concert hall is able to undergo very fast transformations in order to handle different genres, such as classical concerts, musicals, congress meetings, etc. Depending on the type of event, the capacity varies between 1,850 and 2,020 places. Furthermore, with an acoustics score of 9.3/10, the Queen Elisabeth Hall now belongs to the absolute best in the world. To achieve this, we collaborated with the renowned Kirkegaard Associates (US).

The Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, formerly ‘deFilharmonie’ (the Philharmonic), is the symphony orchestra of Flanders, with the new Queen Elisabeth Hall as its home base. In this way the orchestra is building an international career and the concert hall is becoming the place to experience a symphony concert in ideal circumstances.

The congress centre was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and technical features and special attention was paid to the rational use of energy. Sweco was responsible for the design of the technical equipment and monitoring of the works in the field of HVAC, electricity, sanitary installations, fire safety and lifts.

An industrial, mass catering unit was set up in the basement of the building, from where all catering for the conference rooms is provided. Sweco also designed and monitored the technical installations for this.

Good to know
The hall is shaped like a shoe box. Because of this, the sound is optimally resonated. In addition, movable (and removable) panels were attached to the ceiling in order to be able to direct the sound where necessary. The oak wall panels also contribute to the perfect acoustics. The space between the sound panels and the concrete walls was filled with lava sand so that the panels do not vibrate.

In the design of the HVAC installations for the concert and congress halls, the aim was to optimise the energy consumption in the air conditioning of large spaces. The heat and cold production is provided by 4-pipe heat pumps that are able to simultaneously cool and heat. The ventilators of the air groups are frequency controlled so that the air flow rate may be adjusted according to the needs. The air groups are equipped with heat exchangers and recycling for the purpose of accelerating bringing the hall up to temperature. Free cooling is applied during the intermediate season when the outdoor temperature allows it.

Photos: © KMDA Jonas Verhulst

Movie: © Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre Antwerp