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BRUSK

Musea Brugge displays art and heritage items of undoubted world class at 13 locations in the medieval city centre. Bruges has had a tradition of exhibiting art and artefacts in permanent and temporary exhibitions for more than 300 years. The implementation of the BRUSK project will finally meet the need that has existed for decades for the creation of new exhibition facilities suitable for the public exposition of both old and contemporary art. At the same time, space will be created for the preservation and further research of our rich art collection.

BRUSK Vooraanzicht avond Musea Brugge

With the construction of a new exhibition hall and the development of a new, high quality and green art site in the heart of Bruges, the city is investing in an innovative and contemporary art policy that will resonate far beyond our country's borders. Providing an appropriate space for temporary exhibitions is an essential precondition for Bruges to be further and more fully able to fulfil its role as a dynamic and contemporary cultural centre in Flanders. BRUSK will be more than 'just' an exhibition space; it will be a new, creative and artistic hub within the city. As a matter of priority, the state-of-the-art museum building will combine integral sustainability, architectural renewal and environmental harmony.

New site in the heart of the Bruges Museum Quarter

BRUSK Plattegrond site3 Musea Brugge

BRUSK is part of a wide-ranging and phased total project, as a result of which a site with an area of some two hectares in the heart of Bruges' Museum Quarter will be completely remodelled. The core of this new development will be the construction of the new BRUSK building. There will also be a research centre (Musea Brugge Centre for Collection Research) with a museum library and facilities for the academic and scientific studies carried out by Musea Brugge. In addition, the site will also encompass the Groeningemuseum and its adjoining chapel. All these elements will be found within the museum park, which will form a new, green and public meeting place in the centre of Bruges.

The subsidies granted by the Flemish government, amounting to 27.2 million euros, represent a powerful lever for the further realisation of this all-embracing museum project.

BRUSK is the starting point for the development of a completely remodelled site that will give a significant boost to the Bruges Museum Quarter.

The existing buildings of the Sint-Andreasinstituut will be converted and renovated to provide a new home for the Musea Brugge Centre for Collection Research. This research centre will also house the museum library, the Print Cabinet and the offices of the various curators. BRUSK will be located alongside the Groeningemuseum, which is also in urgent need of thorough renovation and renewal. As soon as it is possible for the Groeninge collection to be temporarily displayed in the new BRUSK, this museum will also be completely renovated. The chapel – which currently forms the entrance to the Groeningemuseum – will be included in this renovation.

BRUSK Onderzoekscentrum Musea Brugge

Research centre

BRUSK Ingang Groeningemuseum Musea Brugge

Chapel

All these museum buildings will be surrounded by a belt of greenery. This new museum park will be a meeting place, both for local people and for visitors. Every effort will be made to preserve as many of the magnificent existing trees as possible. This will be supplemented by new planting at both high and low levels. Rainwater will be recuperated and an additional water buffer will also be created. At the present time, the River Reie is not really visible to visitors, being hidden behind a screen of vegetation. In the new park, the Reie will be more fully integrated into the surroundings and will form an attractive element within the new layout.

BRUSK Canopy Musea Brugge
BRUSK Park Musea Brugge
BRUSK Zicht vanop Reie Musea Brugge

Accessibility will be an important focus of attention during the implementation of the project. Both the main building itself and the surrounding site will be easily accessible for wheelchair users and visitors with a visual limitation. People will be politely encouraged to come to the site on foot or by bicycle, leaving their vehicles at one of the public parking areas on the outskirts of the city. The site itself is both car and cycle-free.
The overall concept of BRUSK is the result of an international 'design & build' trajectory, for which the jury took account of various key criteria when assessing the five designs that were submitted. The assessment committee finally decided to award the commission to the team led by Robbrecht & Daem Architects and Olivier Salens Architects, working in combination with the project developer CIT Red as the preferred bidder.

Two major areas

The public area will be accessed through a central passageway that will help to create an open and transparent ground floor level. This level contains the reception area, various educational spaces, the shop, the auditorium and the restaurant. The first floor houses two exposition spaces that are capable of hosting large-scale and world-class international exhibitions. These spaces can be used flexibly and are characterised by their 'cathedrality' in terms of height, combined with a natural fall of light from the north and visual axes that offer views of both the Belfry (Belfort) and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.

BRUSK Vooraanzicht Musea Brugge

Front view

BRUSK Gelijkvloers Musea Brugge

Floor level

BRUSK Kleine hal Musea Brugge
BRUSK Grote hal Musea Brugge

In addition to the public area, there will also be a second area that is not open to the public. This area contains the depots for the painting, print and drawing collections, as well as restoration workshops and work and storage spaces that can meet the needs of specific exhibitions. The top floor houses the facility rooms and offices for the staff of Musea Brugge.

With the name 'BRUSK', Musea Brugge wishes to put itself even more firmly on the cultural and artistic map, within the framework of a contemporary culture policy. BRUSK is an acronym that offers several possible interpretations in Dutch. For example, it can stand for BRUgge (Bruges) + Stimulans (Stimulation) + Kunst(en) (Art(s)) or + Schone (Fine) + Kunsten (Arts) or + Stedelijk (Municipal) + Kunsthal (Art Gallery) or + Stedelijk (Municipal) + Kunstencentrum (Arts Centre), etc. With BRUSK, the city will focus in the future on attracting and organising innovative exhibitions, with state-of-the-art possibilities for performances and presentations.

BRUSK stadszicht Musea Brugge

A sustainable step forwards

This museum project offers numerous opportunities: for a sublime art experience; for the preservation and making accessible of our heritage; for the creation of new public space; for an extra area of greenery in the city; but also for helping to meet Bruges' ambitious climate objectives. The design of BRUSK takes account of the latest contemporary norms relating to sustainability.

BRUSK Zicht op gebouw Musea Brugge

The roofs of the two exhibition halls and the west facade of the large hall will be fully covered with dark green and energy-generating 'scales', which will provide the building with a sustainable form of energy. As a result, it will be more than twice as energy-efficient as the current NZE (Nearly Zero Energy) norm. The building will also comply as far as possible with the current standards for circular construction.

The renovation of the Groeningemuseum and its chapel represents a major step towards achieving better insulated and more energy-efficient buildings in the heart of Bruges. All the buildings in the new museum site will be connected with a BTES (Borehole Thermal Energy Storage) system for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Other buildings in the Museum Quarter, such as the Koetshuis and the Arentshuis, will also be connected to this system at a later date.

Timing

In December 2021, the City of Bruges submitted an application to obtain the necessary planning permission for the museum site. As soon as this application has been approved, the project will commence with the dismantling of the school buildings, followed by the required archaeological investigations.

  • Phase 1: construction of BRUSK, renovation of the research centre and the laying out of the immediate surroundings.
  • Phase 2A: renovation and refurbishment of the Groeningemuseum and the chapel.
  • Phase 2B: laying out of the museum park

Images/credits: Design by Robbrecht en Daem architecten & Olivier Salens architecten, Image by MakeMe.

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