When Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called architecture “frozen music“, he must have been thinking of the great concert halls of Europe. These halls serve as performance venues for classical instrumental music as well as operas, choral works and ballets.
While creating a visually appealing building is a chief concern of any architect, those who specialize in concert hall design must also be well versed inarchitectural acoustics, the science of noise control. Ideally, concert halls will block noise from entrances and exterior vestibules, and enhance the music being made onstage. The materials the building is made from, as well as the way in which they are used will determine the acoustic character of a given hall.
Probably the Pritzker prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid had that in mind when she designed the spectacular J. S. Bach Chamber Music Hall, an undulating steel structure covered by a transparent fabric membrane that’s specifically designed for solo chamber music performances.
Designed in the form of ribbons hovering above the stage and encircling the concert hall, Hadid created a fascinating visual representation of the intricate fugues of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music featured mathematically perfect passages, layering around each other and folding back into themselves. As Hadid describes her concert hall:
“The design enhances the multiplicity of Bach’s work through a coherent integration of formal and structural logic. A single continuous ribbon of fabric swirls around itself, creating layered spaces to cocoon the performers and audience with in an intimate fluid space.”