Winners of the competition in 2020, Spanish architects from Flores y Prats, in association with Belgian office Ouest Architecture, are currently working on the rehabilitation of the Théâtre des Variétés in Brussels, a building dating from 1937 designed by modernist architect Victor Bourgeois.
As the Sala Beckett, a theatre completed in Barcelona and published in AA issue 444 dedicated to “Renewal”, the architects drew on the original to build, with the help of skilful collages, a place that is both new and familiar. In Brussels, for the renovation of this 5,350-sq.m theatre, the architects adopted the same approach as in Barcelona: to recover and reuse the elements of a derelict building to create a new centre for cultural activities. The programme is similar — a cultural centre with two auditoria and a forum for public events.
However, instead of reusing the existing Victor Bourgeois theatre, it is transformed into a forum and a new auditorium is built. “As always in their rehabilitation work, the initial situation is both conserved and deformed so as to create something entirely new. There is at once a frugality to their approach that recalls Lacaton & Vassal (the Palais de Tokyo) and a material sensuality reminiscent of David Chipperfield (the Neues Museum), but their sensitivity to aura, that ‘physical quality imbued in things by time,’ is entirely their own,” as journalist Andrew Ayers said for AA.
“The former Variétés is now given back to Brussels. The public character of the common spaces makes the building once again become part of the activities of the city, a place with the duty of memory linking it to the past of the area but at the same time projecting it into the future of this city,” told the architects. While waiting for the project completion expected in the summer of 2024, let’s dive into their preparatory drawings.
The façade before and after.
Left: axonometry of the Théâtre des Variétés. Right, axonometry of the three “buildings” created by Flores y Prats, a forum, the big and small auditoria.
Up: the auditorium before its renovation.
Click on the right of the image below to scroll through the diaporama.
Flores y Prats & Ouest architecture
Théâtre des Variétés, Bruxelles
Programme: renovation of the Variétés Théâtre in Brussels and its conversion into an International Laboratory for Artistic and Civic Activities including two auditoriums – for audiences of 450 and 1000 standing people respectively – offices, dressing rooms, a café/restaurant and a forum open to the city
Architects: Flores y Prats / Ouest architecture
Flores & Prats’ collaborators: Júlia Sorribes, Saray Bosch, Makoto Hayashi, Júlia Doz, Kahoru Higuchi, Jorge Galindo, Guillem Bosch, Roxane van Kregten, Samuel Laguarta, Lèa Binggeli, Iñigo Azpiazu
Ouest Architecture collaborators: María Rodríguez, Ana García, Antoine Trémège
Partners: JZH & Partners, Daidalos Peutz, Kanju, Boydens, Bureau Bouwtechniek, Ekta
Area: 5 350 sq.m
Cost: 14,500,000 €
Comlpetion: expected Summer 2024
Read about Flores y Prats and other rehabilitation programmes in issue 445 of L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, available in our online shop.