Prince Claus Conservatory / BDG Architects


© Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek
  • Architects: BDG Architects
  • Location: Meeuwerderweg 1, 9724 EM Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Area: 2200.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Photographs: Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek

Text description provided by the architects. In the renewed, extensive and earthquake-proof Prince Claus Conservatory all courses are brought together under one roof: the Jazz department and the department for Classical music. BDG Architects has transformed the old inward-facing building into a visible school that both shows the international standing and the warm-heartedness of the conservatory.


© Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek

In the new school building, all courses are brought together under one roof: the Jazz department and the department for Classical music. BDG Architects has transformed the old inward-facing building into a visible school that both shows the international standing and the warm-heartedness of the conservatory. On street level classical reliefs were designed that refer to the buildings that used to stand there. The modern façade above it, with yellow golden shades, gives the building literally and figuratively a golden edge. Glass is used in abundance, to show the city what is happening inside the building.


© Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek

It seemed almost impossible to design a building that both meets acoustic conditions and simultaneously is resistant to earthquakes. Mass is necessary for sound insulation between rooms, while earthquake-resistant buildings require flexible constructions. BDG Architects designed a ‘seismic construction’ with floors and load-bearing walls, that are able to move during a quake. The two concert halls, the practice rooms and the café were built following a box-in-box construction. These rooms are placed like loose boxes on the floor with rubber springs and packed in thick layers of insulation material. Because the walls in these rooms are relatively light and do not touch the ‘seismic construction’ anywhere, the conservatory has succeeded in building earthquake-resistant and meanwhile achieving acoustic quality.


Ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Upper floor plan

Upper floor plan

The striking stone facade formed a challenge as well. How do you create an image of detailed masonry on a façade that also has to stay upright during an earthquake? We solved this issue by attaching the stones to concrete elements. And these elements are attached to the construction. This solution makes the façade less vulnerable. At the beginning of January 2018 Groningen was confronted with an earthquake. So immediately after the construction works ended, we could determine that the construction functions well. Jack Siahaya, facility manager at the Prince Claus Conservatoire: “We could clearly feel the shocks here. We immediately looked for cracks in the walls and floors. And we checked the double glass. But everything is as it should be, luckily! “


© Gerard van Beek

© Gerard van Beek

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