The Serbian Government has announced that, after a one-year international architectural competition conducted by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, London architectural studio AL_A has been chosen to design a new concert hall for the Belgrade Philharmonic.
The Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall will be the largest cultural investment in the region for decades. Located next to the historic Palace of Serbia in New Belgrade, the project shows an exceptional commitment to building a brighter, more sustainable future for the city according to the vision of Ivan Tasovac, a former Serbian Minister of Culture and Philharmonic director.
With several rooms for recitals, rehearsals and creative work, including a 1,600-seat symphony concert hall, the building will be the first of its kind in the Balkans, an internationally recognized world-class musical performance platform that will contribute to Serbia’s social, economic and environmental development.
On behalf of the Government of Serbia and in partnership with the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the City of Belgrade and the Belgrade Philharmonic, UNDP launched an international design competition in 2021 among the world’s most famous architectural firms. A total of 37 entries were received from 15 countries, and eight candidates were invited to move to the next phase.
An international jury composed of architects, concert hall and competition experts, together with representatives of the Serbian Government, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the City of Belgrade and the Belgrade Philharmonic, evaluated drafts developed according to the detailed guidelines and technical concepts developed by strategic planning consultants for art and culture at the British multinational company Arup, and according to the Belgrade City detailed regulation plan.
Out of the final six candidates evaluated by the jury, the London studio AL_A was declared the winner.
Acting director of the Belgrade Philharmonic Darko Krstić said that the future of the institution finally has a clear shape, recalling that many years ago, former Philharmonic director Ivan Tasovac embarked on a decades-long dream – to build a magnificent home for the Belgrade Philharmonic, the leading orchestra in the region, creating an internationally recognized centre for music, a regional centre of culture and art and a new symbol of Belgrade and Serbia.
“We are delighted with AL_A studio’s solution, a design that not only celebrates the uniqueness of our orchestra, but also provides an accessible, special and attractive place for social gatherings in the Serbian capital, celebrating Belgrade’s lifestyle as a European metropolis and the new home of the Belgrade Philharmonic”, said Krstić.
AL_A Director Amanda Levete pointed out that the magnificent surroundings of Ušće Park on the banks of the Danube send a powerful message about the transformation and return to nature of our cities to make them greener and more beautiful, adding that it is a great place to send a message about Serbia’s vision for the future.
She said that the concert hall will be an expression of harmony between nature, architecture and music, at a central point in Europe where East meets West, a place where people from all regions and cultures, all ages and skills will gather to enjoy music of all genres.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić pointed out that the concert hall for the Belgrade Philharmonic is currently the largest infrastructure project in the field of culture in Serbia and the region, and also one of the largest in Europe.
She said that it is clear how important it is to invest in culture and education as pillars of a successful and strong modern state, which the state has so far shown with numerous similar projects.
This hall will certainly become a new Belgrade landmark and will attract new visitors to our country, but its rich cultural programme will also contribute to a better quality of life for all our citizens, said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence that this will become another hub for making contacts and exchanging knowledge, creative ideas and experience for both local and foreign artists.
AL_A is an award-winning architectural studio founded by architect Amanda Levete, winner of the British RIBA Sterling Award. Her completed projects include a new entrance, courtyard and gallery for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon.
The studio is led by an international team that includes landscape designers from VDLA (Van Dyke Landscape Architects), engineers of the Portuguese company AFA Consult and local architects at the Belgrade studio Zabriskie, while Arup continues its role in the field of acoustic design.
The preparation of technical documentation is divided into three phases and will be carried out in accordance with the Law on Construction and Planning. The time for drafting technical documentation and obtaining all necessary permits and approvals is estimated at 18 months.