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Winter Circus Ghent – re-use and renovation into a multifunctional building, integrated in the urban

renewal of the neighbourhood called "De Krook"



The renovation of the Winter Circus, the former Garage Mahy, is part of the large-scale urban renewal project "De Krook". This new development on a bend ("krook") in the Scheldt combines knowledge, culture and innovative entrepreneurship; it is a meeting place for all inhabitants. The district also houses the new city library, labs and offices of Ghent University and IMEC, a café and green zones. The project of the renovation of the Winter Circus itself includes around the former circus track - now a public courtyard - various spaces for new economic and social functions, as well as an underground concert hall, a café and a rooftop restaurant.

The Winter Circus is a building with an eventful history. The original winter circus, founded in 1894, went up in flames in 1920. After the reconstruction, in 1923, 3,400 spectators could enjoy circus performances, revues, variety programs and film screenings. In 1947 the building was used as a car garage by the Mahy family. The entire circus interior was lost and a new concrete construction with a system of ramps was built. That way cars could drive all the way to the top. Thanks to Mahy's impressive collection of vintage cars, the building became well known in Ghent and beyond. In 1978 the garage closed its doors and the building fell into disrepair. The building occasionally opened its doors to cultural activities (exhibitions, light festival, ...) and thus remained present in the city's memory.

SumProject and "Baro architecture" were appointed in 2016 to carry out the renovation of the Winter Circus. The project aims to fully integrate into the urban fabric. On the central square, the former circus track, which will be included in the urban pedestrian route to the new city library "De Krook", will "of course" be a café that will provide the urban animation. Under this central square, an underground concert hall for about 500 people has been realized, a project that was realized in collaboration with the Arts Center "Vooruit". Spaces on the different levels are designed for economic and social functions. And on the roof, the project provides a panoramic restaurant and panoramic terrace ...

The heating system of the building will be CO2 neutral. By means of a BEO field, the temperature of the soil is used to heat and cool the building. This also contributes to the ambition of the City of Ghent to be a climate neutral city by 2050.



Client: Sogent – City of Ghent

ArchitectureSumProject - Baro Architectuur 

Concept holder: Atelier Kempe Thill 

Engineering: VK Engineering

Images: © Wouter Rawoens




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