BrOnks Youth Theatre, Brussels

The theatre is located in the historical centre of Brussels, in a neighbourhood made up of houses that have become rather rundown over time.

With a programme that includes both education as well as performance facilities for children and adolescents, the BrOnks (whose name means: ‘Brussels Education Art’) is a cultural centre that plays a role in the regeneration of the area. Although strict building codes required alignment of the roofline with the adjacent houses, the glazed front facade reflects the public nature of the building and allows for views from the street into the interior where both flexibility and multifunctionality were important considerations. The system of stairways, ramps and hallways that characterises the rather simple plan reflects the importance of movement in the design scheme.

The building consists of two halls with a central circulation zone inserted in between. Below the stage, which is halfway under the street level, there is the reception and sanitary facilities along with spaces for workshops. The administration and cafe/ foyer are located on the top level, where there are panoramic views over the city. The central staircase has the shape of a double helix and on every intermediate landing there is a wall partition clad with mirrors on both sides that can be rotated and thereby separate the flow of public and prívate into interchangeable paths. The cafe is accessed by its own stairway and elevator. Acoustic sliding walls can divide the rehearsal hall at the front of the building into two spaces. Moreover, moveable partitions at the front can be opened up allowing the street and passersby to become part of the backdrop. With its telescopic seating and mechanically heightened stage floor, the main theatre provides a compact and dynamic space that can be expanded to accommodate different types and scales of performances. During the festival season, several performances can be presented simultaneously in the main theatre and rehearsal halls.