The city of Zottegem gave an explanation this week about the plans for the construction of a new cultural center on the Sanitary site. The building will provide new accommodation for the Zoetegem cultural center (CC) and the Municipal Academy for Music, Word and Dance (SAMWD). The final preliminary design is ready and after many preparations, the project will enter the implementation phase. Construction is expected to start in 2024, with the intention of commissioning the new buildings in 2027. The cost is estimated at 19 million euros.
“The cultural offer in Zottegem has attracted a huge number of visitors and students in recent years. Both the CC and the academy are hitting the limits of their abilities. The Rethorica where CC Zoetegem is located is pure nostalgia for every Zottegem native. However, it is no secret that the capacity of the hall no longer meets the CC’s extensive range. SAMWD has also grown at a rapid pace in recent years and sees its student numbers increase year after year. CC Zoetegem and SAMWD have a unique position in the region and are also taking advantage of this, without forgetting the coordination with the cultural partners from the region. There is a need for new, contemporary accommodation with space and more options.” says Alderman of Culture Lieselotte De Roover (CD&V).
“With the new building, we are investing in the future and in the heritage of our city. This is in line with the vision of the city council to invest in buildings that are under our own management and which we make permanent use of. Just as the Huis van het Kind is moving to a building that is owned by the city, we are making the same choice for the CC and SAMWD,” says Mayor Evelien De Both (N-VA). “The choice for the Sanitary site ensures that Gustaaf Schockaertstraat is the cultural street of Zottegem. The CC and SAMWD thus connect seamlessly with the Municipal Academy of Visual Arts, which has been housed in a beautiful building next to the future culture house for several years now. It is also a central meeting place for the Zottegemnaar, close to the center and the local catering industry, so that the center also enjoys the visitors. A boost for the local economy” (read more below the photo)
Culture house of the future
“The building will different functions fulfill. In the new culture house, visitors are received in a modern and dynamic environment where meeting is central. An environment that motivates students of the academy to develop creatively during lessons, rehearsals and performances. In addition, the culture house offers a spacious hall where culture lovers can discover an even more extensive range full of surprising performances. “Associations also benefit from the new culture house. The building provides a sea of possibilities, not only for CC and SAWMD but also for the associations in Zottegem,” adus ships De Roover.
“The architects designed an ingenious building that allows all functions to intertwine, so that the Sanitary site is minimally occupied. There is a strong focus on energy efficiency to turn the building into a passive house, which is certainly important today. Central to this is that it is a open and spacious meeting place where there is also sufficient space for greenery and interaction with the environment. “The choice to have a in the new building underground parking to foresee stems from the city council’s parking vision. The arrival of a new cultural center represents progress in many areas, but should not imply that cars are a nuisance in the neighbourhood. By providing an underground car park, we offer an answer to the parking shortage that is undoubtedly linked to the arrival of a spacious cultural center.” explains Mayor De Both.
Beating heart of culture and art education
Andy Dhondt, director SAMWD, is looking forward to an accommodation where all students come together: “The SAMWD lessons are now spread over different locations, so that students and parents miss a meeting function. In the new building, a clear space is created that breathes activity and is spacious enough for 1,000 students. Classes will take place in modern classrooms that are fully adapted to contemporary education. There will be nicely equipped dance classes with a resilient dance floor and music rooms with adapted acoustics. The various disciplines each have their own space with, for example, an orchestra class, singing class and instrument classes and an adapted theater class. It also has its own multi-purpose audition room. In the new building we will bring both dance, music as word art drama together under one roof. A roof where CC Zoetegem is never far away and where new opportunities arise for collaboration.”
The arrival of a new building also offers many future prospects for CC Zoetegem. “Our future culture hall will continue to radiate the familiar conviviality, but with 400 seats and a larger stage (12 out of 12), a program with new and original accents and performances that extend beyond Belgium. In terms of interpretation, the Zottegemnaar can expect more, such as dance, indoor circus, musical and big bands.” says Karel Van Poucke, culture coordinator CC Zoetegem. On a technical level, all aspects have been worked out to provide qualitative support for both the CC and SAMWD. The acoustics are certainly of prime importance, so that we can function together without being hindered. We will also not shy away from digital challenges: we embrace new techniques and implement them in our operations.”
“The new culture house will be the place in the heart of the city center to collaborate, inspire and further map out culture in Zottegem,” adds Alderman De Roover. “Meeting is central and we are also implementing that with the arrival of a spacious foyer and a culture café, a new feature in Zottegem. Visitors to a show or parents waiting for their children spend their time in a pleasant café that breathes culture. The foyer will serve as a common meeting place for CC and SAMWD visitors. This space is also ideal as an exhibition space and thus connects with art and SABK.” (read more below the photo)
“The construction of the culture house is an investment that the city council does not take lightly. It is true that the plans have been in the making for quite some time. The preliminary design has now been finally approved. As the city council, we took our responsibility to carefully prepare this immense project,” explains ships De Roover. “That preparatory work already consisted of, among other things, purchasing the land, adjusting the Spatial Implementation Plan (RUP) and thoroughly examining the remediation. After all these steps, we are now looking forward to the implementation phase. In the coming months, the new cultural center will be included as an agenda item for the advisory councils of the City of Zottegem. In January, the concrete plans will be presented to the general public during a info market for local residents, residents, employees and advisory councils. Such an information market gives interested parties the opportunity to ask questions to all parties involved. At the end of January, the environmental permit will be submitted and the tender file will be drawn up. Later in the year, everything will then be submitted to the city council for approval. Subject to external factors such as the current scarcity of raw materials, the work is planned to start in mid 2024. Construction will take about 28 months, so that the new culture house will hopefully be put into use in 2027. The full picture is now estimated at 19 million euros. An important point to note here is that this total price strongly depends on rising prices in all areas such as materials and energy. An adaptation of the estimate will then be incorporated into the adjustment of the multi-year planning in 2023, after which it will be submitted to the city council for approval.”