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Munich Concert Hall

From the complicated jumble of styles and eras that characterise the former industrial neighbourhood, our project emerges as a new urban landmark. Looming over the long-established roofscape, the new concert hall is at once incisive and assertive, strong and independent, restrained and self-evident: a new presence in the cityscape, but in a familiar guise. Different from every angle, Munich Concert Hall variously evokes a marquee or a production hall, perhaps even a temple or a cathedral. In everyday reality, it is a place for creating music; a production hall of sorts for students and nascent musicians, a venue for workshops, a realm of possibilities. The form is open to interpretation and various uses – at its best, the building is a protected but pulsating home for the zenith of cultural achievement in musical form. On the other hand, the building offers the peaceful and contemplative setting of a temple to foster the perception of music and, indeed, of oneself. In the collective mind, the concert hall serves as an auditory repository and venue for concentrated musical pursuit. This is a new archetype, provided for people with a shared vocation. To reflect on what is essential – the basic virtues of quality and aspiration – spectacle is unnecessary. This thesis is expressed in the concert hall’s appearance and character, starting with the primordial form. The house for music is made strong by its determined self-awareness, which, despite its height, prevents conflict with neighbouring architectural landmarks. The architecture seeks to embody its contents and not underplay its significance, while still pursuing equilibrium for the urban ensemble. From afar, the concert hall is conceived as a strong stalwart: the steep roof pitch combines with the height to make the volume assertive. Just as a cathedral emits lofty charisma across its profane neighbours, Munich Concert Hall uses its sculptural form to create a sense of identity and a highly recognisable icon. Nevertheless, the human scale at ground level prevents the building from seeming unapproachable. When near, the building reads as a component embedded in the life of its surroundings; resonating with and enriching the wider neighbourhood. With this in mind, we are especially interested in the materials, which define the building’s character just as much as its shape does. The brief called not only for a ceremonial guise suitable for grand occasions, but also an everyday guise for the times in between.  We found glass to be the material which can bridge between various uses, functions and expressions. It can have a robust, industrial character, or a sense of preciousness and aspiration: a production hall, or a cathedral.  The building absorbs the changing sky and ambient light, and then reflects light and colour back. Depending on the time, weather and viewing angle, the building may reveal a little of the goings on within. As dusk sets in, the concert hall becomes a lantern: a glowing festival marquee and cathedral of music. A key design intention was that – regardless of the time of day – the building always appears welcoming and does not have a rear side. The decision to place the auditoria on top of each other served to reduce the building’s footprint, making it the focal point of its own public square. The large volumes of the auditoria stand at the centre of the concert hall’s floor plan. The levels are divided according to public or private function across three zones: foyer – auditorium – backstage/administration. A simple ring structure of core and mantle is thereby created, in which various functions encircle the auditoria across multiple floors. The main auditorium is based on the ‘rectangular theatre’ archetype. This classic music venue typology is, in addition to being comparatively compact, the best possible environment for the specified 1,800-1,920 spectators. Its geometry offers exceptional acoustics, unsurpassed by any alternative room shapes. Furthermore, we have evolved the archetype, shifting the podium slightly towards the centre of the auditorium in order to minimise the distance to the audience and to place spectators alongside the conductor and the musicians. No seat is more than 32m from the first violin.  Our concept is further noteworthy for placing a maximum of spectators in the stalls.  The small auditorium is fitted for 600 seated and 900 standing guests, and strictly follows the ‘black box’ architype. The superb acoustics and comprehensive equipment – including a raising podium and full-width ceiling rigging – mean that anywhere in the room can be used during a performance.

Design Team: Andreas Cukrowicz, Anton Nachbaur-Sturm, Martin Ladinger, Michael Mayer, Tobias Beyrer, Johanna Brunner, Gregor Benz, Dominik Hofstetter with Quiring Consultants Aldrans, Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering Stuttgart, GMI Ing. Peter Messner GmbH Dornbirn, KUB Fassadentechnik Schwarzach, Bau-Data Josef Mahlknecht Feldkirch, SM-Modellbau Bregenz.
Client: Bavaria State Government, the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Culture, Science and Art represented by the Munich 1 Office of Public Works
Competition 2017 1st prize