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During a press conference at IBTM World, FMCCA, the newly built Antwerp convention center, was introduced to the worldwide MICE industry present in Barcelona. FMCCA stands for ‘Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp’. Interesting fact, the new convention center is embedded within the historic fabric of the Antwerp city ZOO.

“The Antwerp ZOO is a place of legend, it’s a place that changes you”, claims Anja Stas, Chief Commercial Officer. “It brings people together as it has been doing for over 175 years. It is a green gathering ground. And now on the same place a new star has risen. A new convention center. FMCCA, a functional name for an emotional place. In the middle of the city, adjacent to the most beautiful railway station of the world. And on the same site as one of the founding zoos of the world and among many considered also as one of world’s finest city zoos.”

Only a week ago, FMCCA opened its doors for business, with an official gala concert attended by Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium. “After 28 months of construction works,” Anja Stas points out. “It’s a real achievement that the works were completed within time and within the set budget of 80 million €.” The center is privately owned and run by the Zoo Society, one of Belgium’s leading leisure societies. The company runs a concert hall, the convention center, 3 zoos, a number of conservation projects and a research center.

The convention center can host up to 2,500 guests, spread over 25,000m². It is equipped with 30 breakout rooms and has a very unique auditorium, the completely rebuilt concert hall ‘Queen Elizabeth’ with an acoustic engineered by top engineer Larry Kirkegaard from Chicago and conceived for inspiration and comfort to bring in as much light as possible by British architect Ian Simpson. “The opportunity to create a secret place almost embedded in the middle of this historic fabric and to have a concert hall in the heart of that has been such a privilege to work on. We wanted to create something that is warm and inviting. It didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to feel right,” the architect said in a video message.

Anja Stas ended the press conference by mentioning four advantage points FMCCA has.

The FMCCA is perfectly located. “It’s really easy to get to. Under 2 hours from London, Paris and

Amsterdam with a local Antwerp Airport nearby and a national airport at 45km, not to forget the international railway station next to the center with a Thalys stop.”

The city of Antwerp is a cultural city with many museums but the city also won three beauty awards: the most beautiful railway station (‘Centraal Station’) in the world; the most beautiful restaurant in the world (‘The Jane’) situated in the former chapel of the military hospital and also boasts one of the most beautiful market squares in the world (‘Grote Markt’).

Furthermore, the convention center really emerges and fuses the old and the new. The architecture was conceived with respect to its history but bringing in modern necessities. Therefore, all 30 breakout rooms have real daylight, people don’t have to sit in a bunker.

But probably the most unique element is the fact that it is situated in a ZOO. “That’s why we adopted ‘Matadi’, the gorilla as our campaign image”, explains Anja Stas. “Because it has such an emotional value. Nature does that. Nature nurtures. Science has proved it to boost productivity. It also offers an instant sustainability factor to associations that will meet in the center as the center is owned by a foundation that also owns a research center with scientists that are world renowned for their work. A foundation that also runs global conservation programs. Every penny spent in the convention center is a penny linked to the work on research and conservation on the wellbeing and survival of the animals.” On a lighter note, the ZOO also provides a great social program. Why not dine with the fish? Or a guided or free stroll in the ZOO after a day of meetings? Or maybe offer your delegates a morning jog in the ZOO? A social program can be tailor made to one’s clients’ needs.

“We are proud to say that we have already sold 21 congresses for the next years to come. From IT engineers, medical, pharmaceutical to even the World Association of Beards and Moustaches. I invite you to experience the magic of this place,” Anja Stas ends.

#matadi #aroomwithaZOO

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