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Closed for expansion and renovations
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‘TRANS, Carmody Groarke and RE-ST’ to design new wing of Design Museum Gent

A temporary partnership between the architectural firms TRANS architectuur | stedenbouw, Carmody Groarke and RE-ST architectenvennootschap is going to design the new wing of Design Museum Gent. The design team convinced the jury with an inviting concept that will put Design Museum Gent even more firmly on the map as an inspiring place to meet.


Design Museum Gent is being expanded to include a new wing by the name of DING (Design In Ghent). DING will be located on the derelict site on Drabstraat which, until now, has mainly been known for its giant roll of toilet paper. The new building will link the existing museum buildings and create additional exhibition areas, as well as providing space for debate, reflection, public activities, a shop and catering. The new wing should also solve various issues with accessibility and logistics. 
The museum regards the new wing as a participatory ‘third place’, a link between the existing exhibition spaces and the city. It is intended to be a welcoming meeting place with free access. Designers, producers, courses, galleries and creative industries will find a lively, participatory and interactive space in the heart of the city here. At DING, we want to introduce a wide variety of visitors to the broad concept of design and the museum's collection.

“The museum's key asset – the link between the past, present and future – is not only reflected in the museum's activities, but will soon also be evident in its infrastructure, with two protected monuments, a wing from 1992 and the new volume.”

Sami Souguir, Alderman of Urban Development and Culture and Chairman of sogent

Open Call

In order to make this expansion possible, Design Museum Gent and the delegated general contractor, sogent (Ghent’s autonomous urban development company), looked for a design team using the Flemish Government Architect’s Open Call procedure. In the autumn of 2018, five design teams, from a total of 96 entries, were selected to submit a design. In the end, the jury chose the submission by the temporary partnership between TRANS architectuur | stedenbouw from Ghent, Carmody Groarke from London and RE-ST architectenvennootschap from Antwerp.
The jury decided that the design team provided good solutions for every aspect of the project definition : DING as a Third Place, with a no-threshold transition and interaction between the street and DING, the smart museum concept (ICT & IOT implementations, smart building management, digital accessibility and experience) and the architectural implications, universal accessibility, logistical aspects (loading and unloading), circulation and wayfinding, integration into the context and flexible and modular use of spaces.

Loft with free views of the city centre

The chosen design presents an understated volume in a single material. The building is not a spectacular piece of architecture, but it can be read like a controlled landmark that fits perfectly into the existing streetscape and surrounding cityscape. The large openings in the façade make the ‘Community Room’ on the ground floor a welcoming meeting place for all the residents of Ghent. The activities held here will be visible from the outside.

A striking touch is added by the playful roof volume - the ‘Loft’ - that introduces a new rhythm to the cadence of the sloping roofs in the surrounding area. The roof volume has no front or rear but is ‘all-sided’ and opens invitingly towards the city. As a public balcony, the ‘Loft’ on the fourth floor will provide wonderful views of the city.

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“The design team has thoroughly grasped the social, participatory and technological challenges of the museum of the future and provides a good translation of the concepts ‘Third Place’ and ‘Smart Museum’. Seeing and being seen are important in this concept: the building both looks out on and can be seen by the city. The design will help us to realise our ambition of becoming a ‘community sense making museum’, a museum that is future-proof and, above all, useful for the entire community. A place where visitors can get to know the collection interactively and where aspects such as technology can enhance the experience.

Katrien Laporte, Director of Design Museum Gent

Broad-based museum

The design proposed by the team is a building that can be adapted over time, a building that is flexible and modular. In the long term, this proposal will make it possible to create a broad-based museum. Under-utilised spaces will also be integrated horizontally into the existing buildings in the new design, making them more sustainable.

The design team has a clear vision of sustainability and is examining not only how the new wing can best perform in this respect but also how the existing site could be optimised (energy consumption, circular construction, smart technology).

Towards a final design

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The design team will now refine the initial proposal and produce a final design in consultation with the museum and sogent. This will be an exciting exercise, as the team's design vision provides scope for a great deal of flexibility and gives the clients homework; we need to think carefully again about the purpose, use and programming and how the design could offer answers to this.

Sami Souguir, Alderman of Urban Development and Culture and Chairman of sogent

The result will be a well-supported, definitive design, the implementation of which can start in 2021. If everything runs smoothly, the project could be realised by the end of 2023.

The City of Ghent has allocated 7.5 million euros for this dossier and Flanders is adding 2.5 million euros from the Cultural Infrastructure Fund (FoCI). A further 250,000 euros has been contributed by Flanders for the roll-out of the Smart Museum concept.

The entrance area on Jan Breydelstraat will also be renovated at the same time as the construction of the new wing. The city of Ghent will contribute financially and Flanders is also providing 232,000 euros as a sectoral subsidy for universal accessibility. In addition, the City provides additional resources for the design, technology and safety of the new wing.