ARSONIC – an innovative space entirely dedicated to sound

In an urban environment where noise pollution is considered one of the greatest nuisances to residents, the creation of specific places devoted to music or quiet almost becomes a necessity. In Mons, European capital of culture 2015, there is now an innovative place entirely dedicated to the study and promotion of contemporary music.

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The ARSONIC main concert hall with its three-sided stage. © RinoNoviello The ARSONIC main concert hall with its three-sided stage. © RinoNoviello

" Whenever I go down the stairs ensconced in heavy red drapes and I enter this superb concert hall, I have the strong sensation of coming home... Arsonic does not only allow the musicians to express themselves at the top of their game, but makes the public communicate with them in a punctuation, a shared and rare breath. "

Ivan Vanaise, President of the Friends of Arsonic NPO

A fire station converted into an arts and cultural centre

Arriving in Mons in 1988, Jean-Paul Dessy, composer, musician, and Belgian conductor, noted the lack of a place dedicated to music in this city. In 2009, the Directorate for Cultural Infrastructure of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation launched an architecture tender to put together a team of project managers to fill this gap. Construction ended in 2015. The Wallonia-Brussels Federation, who co-financed the project to the tune of EUR 3 637 178 (EUR 1 029 000 provided by the Public Service of Wallonia) finally realised the dream of the Musiques Nouvelles ensemble by creating ARSONIC or the ‘Listening House'.

The building chosen to create this space was first home to a regiment of cavalry, then an undertakers, and finally the fire-fighters of the city. It is set in a strategic location in the heart of the city. After its complete restructuring, this 2500 m2 building  now offers a large concert hall of changeable capacity, a rehearsal hall, as well as other spaces devoted to musical experimentation.

Architecture dedicated entirely to listening

The main hall can accommodate 250 people. The tiered seating running down towards the stage and a balcony over the entrance allow the public to surround the interpreters and create a proximity with the musicians. Particular attention was paid to the quality of the sound through close collaboration with acoustician Eckhard Kahle. 

In addition to the main hall, ARSONIC offers a “Chapel of Silence”, an area measuring 50 m2 and 12.6 m floor to ceiling, which invites silence, reflection and meditation; there is also a "Passage of Rumours", a long vaulted gallery that serves as home and space for exhibitions, various installations, and small concerts. The building also has a sound wonder room for children and a hexagonal rehearsal room, in addition to offices, dressing rooms, a digital luthier workshop, and a small library.

Altogether, the project enabled the creation of two new jobs.


Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the “ARSONIC – This Listening House” project was EUR 6 250 131, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 583 953 under the Operational Programme “Convergence” for the 2007-2013 programming period.

 


Draft date

11/12/2017