JS Bach Music Hall
Joel Chester FIldes

Manchester International Festival

Zaha Hadid Architects as Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects have created a unique chamber music hall specially designed to house solo performances of the exquisite music of Johann Sebastian Bach. A voluminous ribbon swirls within the room, carving out a spatial and visual response to the intricate relationships of Bach’s harmonies. As the ribbon careens above the performer, cascades into the ground and wraps around the audience, the original room as a box is sculpted into fluid spaces swelling,merging, and slipping through one another. “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.” said Hadid. The process of realizing the design involved architectural considerations of scale, structure and acoustics to develop a dynamic formal dialogue inseparable from its intended purpose as an intimate chamber music hall. A layering of spaces and functions is achieved through the ribbon wrapping around itself, alternately compressing to the size of a handrail then stretching to enclose the full height of the room. Circulatory and visual connections are continually discovered as one passes through the multiple layers of space delineated by the ribbon. The ribbon itself consists of a translucent fabric membrane articulated by an internal steel structure suspended from the ceiling. The surface of the fabric shell undulates in a constant but changing rhythm as it is stretched over the internal structure. It varies between the highly tensioned skin on the exterior of the ribbon and the soft billowing effect of the same fabric on the interior of the ribbon. Clear acrylic acoustic panels are suspended above the stage to refl ect and disperse the sound, while remaining visually imperceptible within the fabric membrane. Programmed lighting and a series of dispersed musical recordings activate the spaces between the ribbon outside of performance times. The installation is designed to be transportable and re-installed in other similar venues. Pivotal to its function is the performance of the ribbon. It has been designed to simultaneously enhance the acoustic experience of the concert while spatially defining a stage, an intimate enclosure, and passageways. It exists at a scale in which it is perceived as both an object floating in a room as well as a temporal architecture that invites one to enter, inhabit and explore. Festival Director Alex Poots said, “Zaha Hadid Architects consistently come up with challenging and innovative ideas. It has been wonderful to see the realisation of this pro ject and experience such intimate performances from the leading concert musicians within it”

JS Bach Chamber Music Hall

Tony Hogg Design Ltd as Designers

Zaha Hadid Architects’ design team have created a unique chamber music auditorium specially designed to house solo performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach during the 2009 Manchester International Festival. The location for the structure during the festival was the temporary exhibition gallery at Manchester City Art Gallery and since then the structure has been used again at further chamber music festivals in Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi. A voluminous ribbon winds an undulating path through the room. Part suspended from the ceiling and part fixed to floor and wall; the structure emanates from one corner of the space and then describes several loops and swirls, wrapping itself shell-like around the small audience and forming an envelope around and above the stage area before disappearing into the floor. The very organic shape has a constantly changing cross-section and height as it weaves a bewildering, overlapping and multi-layered path through the auditorium. The structure is constructed of a light-weight frame covered in an elastic synthetic fabric. Tony Hogg Design’s task was to translate the architect’s constantly curving and changing envelope of the ribbon into a series of compartments that would however preserve the smoothly undulating concept. This meant breaking it into components that could be rolled and fabricated using conventional welded tubular steel and whose fabric covering becomes lightly scalloped, producing a billowing effect. The other main task was to create a stable, engineered structure that required the minimum amount of support. Scientifically located acoustic reflector panels were also required to be integrated into the structure to enhance the acoustic experience of the concert goers.

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ManufacturersBase Structures Ltd
Product Spec Sheet
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