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DRDH Architects (GB)

Hybrid entities

The precise, meticulous and thorough work of London architects Daniel Rosbottom and David Howarth has grown continuously since 2000. Their work is characterized by their sensitive responsiveness to both physical and cultural context and by the quality of detailing and construction within strict time and budget constraints. In addition, they also received international recognition for transcending practice into a broader research context of teaching and writing about art, architecture and the city. DRDH is also active in Belgium, including the Bourlaschouwburg in Antwerp, the Muziekcentrum de Bijloke in Ghent and this year also the renovation of the Opera in Ghent.

Opera house Ghent

DRDH is part of the winning team of the Open Call for the renovation of the Opera in Ghent. We share the description on the website of the Vlaams Bouwmeester:

Laureate: BAS / Dirk Jaspaert, DRDH Architects Ltd
The study assignment for the implementation of the master plan for the Music and Performing Arts Center and for the conditional realization of the extension, renovation and restoration of the opera complex in Ghent was awarded to the temporary association BAS / Dirk Jaspaert, DRDH Architects Ltd.

Built in 1837-40 according to a design by architect Louis Roelandt, the neoclassical opera house in Ghent is in the process of an important expansion. Today there is the possibility to add the adjacent, former post telegraph office and peace court, which was built on the south side and on the Koophandelsplein in 1910-13 under the direction of architect Charles Van Rysselberghe, to the opera house. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen saw this as a unique opportunity to commemorate the building so that it would become a multi-usable, open house. After all, a very important aspect of sustainability is making an existing infrastructure as flexible as much as possible. Although the opera originally consisted of a spectacle hall and a suite of ballrooms, these ballrooms could no longer be used independently by third parties and the opera houses of Antwerp and Ghent are alternately underused.

DRDH architects from London developed a spatial vision that uses the pitted building block intelligently and creates a public square in the heart that refers to the historical origins of the site of the “Sebastiaanshof”. The old oval peristyle is being rediscovered as the gateway to the entire opera site and to the new glazed atrium. That atrium is a clear staircase that provides access not only to the old ballrooms and the opera hall, but also to a new “tower building” on the Ketelvaart. This contains an extra room at the bottom, which overlooks the Ketelvest. Above it is the new side stage, to which a truck lift makes deliveries possible, and above it a rehearsal room. The crowning glory is a second small hall, which promises performances with a beautiful view of the city.

The courtyard fulfils the client’s ambitions to create an accessible home and provides a place to rest. You will be able to walk by and experience life behind the scenes. You will be able to observe the logistics from the terrace of the restaurant and the staff canteen. The architecture of the new façade on the Ketelvest and the façades of the court are conceived as a ‘frame’ – referring to an image of the Parisian decor studio of Philastre and Cambon – that is classic and timeless in its view, but also elan and grandeur. radiates, through the use of solid natural stone, a material with a low environmental impact. The vision for the master plan also offers good proposals in the field of theatre technology and acoustics, with an enlargement of the orchestra pit and an elevation of the stage tower. For the restoration of the historic interiors, the old colour scheme of Philastre and Cambon will be restored. In the opera hall they want to combine this with the preservation of the later added balcony by architect Van Rysselberghe.
DRDH combines the care of this very valuable historic house with a number of assets for a varied future use.

The five selected architectural firms that were retained by the procedure of the Team Vlaams Bouwmeester were Atelier Kempe Thill, DRDH Architects, Bennetts Associates, Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven – Julian Harrap Architects, and OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture, all foreign firms.



Th 10 December 2020 20:00


Schouwburgstraat 3
9000 Gent

With the support of: