BRUSK exhibition hall  Bruges, Belgium, 2019 - ongoing

© MakeMe

© MakeMe

Model by Bernard Vandermeersch, Photo by Kristien Daem

Model by Bernard Vandermeersch, Photo by Kristien Daem

Photo by Kristien Daem

Stad Brugge

Garenmarkt, Bruges, Belgium

2021 - ongoing

Floor surface
9.500 sqm


Robbrecht en Daem architecten
Olivier Salens architecten

Joris Van Huychem
Brecht Casier
Magdalena Jendras
Benjamin Rea
Mien De Vriendt
Bert Schellekens

Museum experts
Frits Scholten – Head of Department of Sculpture,
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Wouter Davidts – Professor Ghent University
Max Fordham – Building services engineering,
London, United Kingdom

CIT Blaton

Landscape architect
Georges Descombes,
Geneva, Switzerland

Services engineering
Studiebureau De Klerck (SDK)
Max Fordham – Building services engineering,
London, United Kingdom

Structural engineering
Ney & Partners

Safety advice
Allseccon security consultancy

Bureau De Fonseca

360 Solutions Risk & Safety

SuReal Sustainability Experts

Bruges, January 25, 2021 - The City of Bruges has just revealed the plans and ambitions for ‘BRUSK’, the new exhibition hall in the city centre of Bruges. In the Design & Build procedure that the City of Bruges launched for this purpose, the design team led by Robbrecht en Daem architecten and Olivier Salens architecten, in collaboration with developer CIT Red, was selected as winner (see data sheet for more details on the team composition). 

On a site on the Garenmarkt, next to the Groeningemuseum, a new exhibition hall will be erected by the end of 2024 that will house two museum spaces and opens out onto a new park. The exhibition areas will be constructed at a raised level and will be separated from each other by a public passageway (Scala Grande), so that an open, transparent and freely accessible ground level will be created. This ground level will be given over in its entirety to the city, its inhabitants and its visitors. 

The exterior of BRUSK will be completely covered in textured and electricity generating glass ‘scales’, which will provide the building with a sustainable form of energy. At the request of the City of Bruges, the exhibition areas will be sufficiently spacious to accommodate international travelling exhibitions of both classical and contemporary works. However, the exhibition rooms will also be designed with sufficient flexibility, so that they can be divided up into smaller spaces to allow a number of exhibitions, performances or other events to take place at the same time.

BRUSK’s exhibition rooms will stand out in the museum landscape, not only by virtue of their sublime natural fall of light (from the north side, as was usually the case in the great artistic workshops of the past), but also because of their unique height of 17.40 metres (making them reminiscent of a church or cathedral). In this way, BRUSK breaks with the trend of most museums and exhibition spaces, which tend to avoid making use of natural light, preferring to rely almost exclusively on its electric alternative.

With several large architectonic buildings (such as the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the Belfry, the Market Square (Grote Markt), Sint-Salvator Cathedral, the Arentshuis Museum and the Groeningemuseum) in the immediate vicinity, BRUSK forms a cluster with other very important components in the city. “These neighbouring monuments played a fundamental role in determining the design for BRUSK,” explains Olivier Salens. “They provide the site with a magisterial inner-city landscape. The two visual axes – one running in the direction of the Belfry and the other in the direction of the Onze- Lieve- Vrouwekerk – invest the design with a deep sense of urban connectivity.”

Out of respect for the surrounding buildings, BRUSK will preserve the existing visual axes. The new building will not attempt to impinge on the visual profile of the city. The historic skyline will therefore remain unaltered. BRUSK will be positioned in the middle scale of buildings and building elements, which characterise a city by virtue of their special and specific functions. “The building does not make its presence felt by virtue of its height, as is the case with primary historical buildings, such as a church, cathedral or belfry,” explains Johannes Robbrecht. “Instead, you discover it by walking through a sequence of alleys, passageways and an enclosed garden.” That being said, it does not necessarily call on walkers to stop ; on the contrary, the central public passageway makes it possible to walk through the entire complex without stopping. “You don’t walk around or past the building; you walk through it,” adds Paul Robbrecht, “even if you do not intend to visit one of its exhibitions. BRUSK is an urban gesture of invitation. It is more like a public square than a public building, which openly and freely creates and stimulates opportunities for encounters between the public and art.”