Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek, Belgium

The Music Academy MWD (Academie voor muziek, woord en dans Dil’arte) in Dilbeek, just out of Brussels city limits to the north west in the Flemish area of Belgium.

One of the most spectacular buildings I ever had a chance to see and visit! Designed by a Spanish architect Carlos Arroyo, with some Belgian members on the team. Construction finished and the building was opened for use in September 2012, competition won in 2007.

Generally this building seems to be a bit over the top, a dominant in the distance, precisely detailed, well sculptured shape, plenty of symbolism in the design and even with dynamic qualities as it changes from different angles!

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek

The building changes as you move along the façade: from the front, at a slight angle a forest is visible, then slowly more colours appear, and when you look back the building suddenly becomes different variations of blue. I love that the façade is on permanent summer, even if reality around it is Belgium winter. The forest pictured is Wolfsputten, a protected area of natural forest located just at the back of the plot.

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 1 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 2 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 3 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 4 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 5 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 6I cannot shake off the idea of cycling back and forth many times and watching this façade changing.

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 7 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 8 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 9 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 10

Architect himself clams that the idea behind the coloured louvres was influenced and designed as a piece of music (Canon for 36 voices by Johannes Ockeghem). Without knowing the fact the building is definitely very entertaining to look at, and personally I see more straight forward associations: the vertical panel pieces look like piano keys.

The back façade is interesting just by it’s form alone and the length and shape of the cantilever is just amazing!

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 11 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 12 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 13

At the same time the building stands out and blends in with the surroundings :

dilbeek MWD 07

dilbeek MWD 08

Despite the welcoming text in the official website my colleague and I were kicked out of the building! On the front page they say: “Welcome, young and old” , original text in NL. “Jong en oud zijn welkom in de academie voor muziek”. But beware, in reality the staff is not welcoming at all!

I took about one hundred photos from outside and walked in two steps to the main lobby and while I tried to adjust the camera settings for the different light conditions, a man rushed to me telling to leave as he repeated in few languages that “this is not a public building”. So here are the two pictures I managed to take before the incident:

academie dilbeek interior 1

academie dilbeek interior 2

Should I have been asked of my reason to be there, or should the website say “open only for students”, or should at least an entrance door tell “no photos”, or is their welcoming text only a bad joke? Well that was a bitter experience I did not expect and a first time ever to be kicked out of a building on my architectural journey around the world. Just to mention: there were no students to be seen (only few staff members in the distance), if the concern was somebody’s privacy.

The nearby building says: “Dilbeek waar Vlamingen THUIS zinjn…”, in English it would be “Dilbeek is a HOME for the Flemish…” Maybe the whole problem was that I am not one of them?

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 14

  1. Do you know what the part which hangs over the front entrance is used for?

    • That is an auditorium, the inclining shape is perfect for seating and the roof shape naturally provides acoustic qualities to the inner space.

  2. The visit was worthwhile for the outside alone! The colour idea is interesting but the whole structure is very restless both inside and out. Maybe that is why the officials were so official!

    • Indeed the sight was worth all the effort to get there!

      I like your description “restless”, yes indeed it is, the academy animated whole otherwise very calm town. This building meets all kinds of criteria for good architecture: “form meets function” is one of them, the “musical” shape reflects the activities inside, or general idea about the music.

      But the staff member at least could have been more polite :(

  3. What an utterly surprising building. It’s shape made me think of (frantic) sound waves. I would love the opportunity to wander around it for myself and hear how the music is reflected back by the walls. Your post is a wonderful introductory tour that whet my appetite for more.

    • I am glad you like my story!

      And yes, the building is music by itself, but not some gentle melody :)

  4. This building reminds me of those double-image postcards in the 70s that would change with different angles. Too bad all its good qualities are marred by its “contents”. Feng shui proponents might argue that (while cool looking) all those nasty angles in the lobby create friction and unrest…

    • Good point about the postcard.

      About the interior influence on people: generally it might be true, but this building over there is for too short period of time to have any affect on a middle aged staff member of a school :) The interior (as much as visible from the lobby) is very calm in comparison with exterior, simple I would even say, white, grey and slight touch of wood.

      • The staff was probably cranky to begin with!

  5. Great post – I loved your photos and the way they showed the changing front. I too would cycle up and down – maybe the staff are fed up with people doing that!

  6. RDoug said:

    Beautiful building for that music academy.

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