After more than a year of planning, site planning, and the development of criteria for staging an international competition for a new concert hall, the process finally culminated in the selection of an architect for the design of the new Belgrade Philharmonic in Serbia. Under the Tito dictatorship, Belgrade was a very dreary, unremarkable city, but it has been redefining itself to take its place as a great European city, complete with the cultural attractions that such a claim would imply.

The New Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall in Serbia designed by AL_A  - Sheet1
Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©

AL_ A, a London-based architecture firm, has been chosen to design the new Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall after an international competition. The Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall is a landmark project for both Belgrade and Serbia. The project is the region’s largest cultural investment in decades, and it is located next to the Palace of Serbia, at the junction of two great European rivers, and overlooking the wilderness of Great War Island. It is an exceptional manifestation of Belgrade’s bold vision for the future. 

The New Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall in Serbia designed by AL_A  - Sheet2
Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©


AL_ A is an award-winning architecture studio created in 2009 by RIBA Stirling Prize-winner Amanda Levete and directors Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch, and Maximiliano Arrocet. The architects describe their firm on their website as follows: ‘‘The variety of our leadership team gives a richness of thinking and possibilities that is played out in our culture, practice, and via our designs. On every project, no matter how large or little, the directors collaborate as a team of equals, blending imaginative flare with technical brilliance.’’ Their designs are envisioned as urban propositions rather than merely buildings. Places that foster reciprocity between nature and neighborhood; initiatives that convey an institution’s identity, reflect a place’s objectives and hold a community‘s dreams.

The New Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall in Serbia designed by AL_A  - Sheet3
Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©

The Competition

In 2021, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched an international design competition on behalf of the Government of Serbia, in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the City of Belgrade, and the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, aimed at the world’s most renowned architecture firms. The competition got 37 applications from 15 nations, with just eight individuals moving on to the next round. An international jury of architects, concert hall and competition experts, as well as representatives from the organizing bodies, evaluated designs developed in response to detailed brief and technical concepts developed by strategic arts and culture planning consultants Arup, as well as the City of Belgrade’s Plan of Detailed Regulation. The judges deliberated over the last six candidates and chose AL_ A as the winner.

Several other projects, most notably those by Bevk Perovic Arhitekti, indicate an alternative aesthetic approach to the program by strategically placing individual cylinder forms on the site to allude to the project’s multifunctional nature. Snohetta’s sloping ecological form disappears into the park, not the sea, as was the case with their Oslo Opera, and Diller Scofidio Renfro’s (DSR) exterior ramping leading to the top of the main structure’s viewing platform as a roof garden. EStudio Lamela and MVRDV both featured large rectangular boxes, containing all the program’s components.

The New Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall in Serbia designed by AL_A  - Sheet4
Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©

The Design

The firm describes its starting point as the landscape of the Danube River and the park’s setting. Utilizing water to reflect the building and adjacent surroundings symbolizes the wetlands that allowed the Serbian inhabitants to flourish here in the first place. Rewilding the park as the setting for the new Concert Hall communicates a progressive message about the need to turn cities into greener, cleaner, and more beautiful places. According to the office, the tensions between nature and cities must be resolved now more than ever. They claim to achieve it by visualizing the Belgrade Concert Hall as a manifestation of harmony. Harmony between architecture and landscape, between east and west, ancient and young, generations, and civilizations.

The New Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall in Serbia designed by AL_A  - Sheet5
Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©

It will consist of performance, rehearsal, and creative spaces in addition to the main symphonic music hall, which can accommodate 1,600 people and a 400-member orchestra and choir. The project’s overall requirements come out to a target budget of £92 million. The Concert Hall is composed of four primary venues: a huge performance hall, a recital hall, a creative hub, and a podium stage, each with its personality that celebrates different musical genres, attracts different audiences and encourages diverse activities. 

The four venues surround a social space at the center of the Belgrade Concert Hall, with shared back-of-house facilities located beneath the newly formed town square. The architects say that they created a building with no front and no back using this configuration, resulting in an architectural panorama. The structure and the new common social area at its heart are connected by a draping canopy that spans each venue and rests softly in between. The architecture expresses the movement of music through its expressive form. The materiality of this enclosure will provide a rippling effect that replicates the dappled waters of the Danube, representing the changing environment through the seasons and signaling a new cultural landmark.

Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall_©

To conclude, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Brnabić added: “This Concert Hall is most definitely going to become a new landmark of Belgrade and attract visitors and tourists to our country. Furthermore, with its quality programs, it will enrich our citizens’ cultural life. I strongly believe that it will become another regional hub for making contacts and knowledge exchange, with the flow of creativity, ideas, and experience of both domestic and foreign artists.”

Reference List: 

  1. AL_A. (n.d.). AL_A. [online] Available at:
  2. UNDP. (n.d.). Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall – Design Competition Overview and results | United Nations Development Programme. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2023].
  3. (n.d.). Belgrade Philharmonic Concert Hall Competition «Competitions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2023].

İnci is an architect who is passionate about interdisciplinary discussion in the field of architecture.In her point of view architecture is not only about aesthetics and art but is an understanding and constant thinking of creating space for living thing.She loves to research,read,learn and write about different perspectives of architecture.