Chamber Music Hall / Zaha Hadid Architects

Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes

We just received Zaha Hadid Architects’ latest project for the .  ZHA has created a for solo performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s chamber music masterpieces. The project’s form, a suspended ribbon of translucent lightweight synthetic fabric (150 g/m2) articulated by an internal steel structure, translates the intricate relationships of  Bach’s harmonies into an architectural spatial condition. Festival Director Alex Poots exclaimed, “Zaha Hadid Architects consistently come up with challenging and innovative ideas. It has been wonderful to see the realisation of this project and experience such intimate performances from the leading concert musicians within it.”

Further description about ZHA’s Music Hall and more images after the break.

Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects

The design of the music hall ”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,” explained Hadid.  The ribbon wraps around the stage, the audience and itself, creating different layered conditions by “alternately compressing to the size of a handrail then stretching to enclose the full height of the room.”

Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes

The undulating surface of the fabric shell in a “constant yet changing rhythm” creates a “soft billowing effect”.   When the hall is not in use, programmed lighting and a series of dispersed musical recordings will activate the spaces between the ribbon.

In addition to the strong architectural ideas, the music hall must provide clear acoustics for those viewing the concert. “The challenge of the project was to take a gallery space primarily designed for visual art and help Zaha Hadid Architects in their vision to convert it into a modern extraordinary new performance space for chamber music,” explained Mark Howarth, a partner of Sandy Brown Associates.

Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes

“For optimum conditions for chamber music it is important to ensure that the reverberation time is not too long as this blurs individual notes so music can lose its intricacy. Equally it should not be too short as this provides a lack of response for the performer and causes the music to sound overly dry,” explained Howarth.  If ZHA added too much additional sound absorptive material, the sound would loose a lot of its quality.  Thus, a variety of materials were investigated, such as different fabrics, metals and plastics, to ensure that the architectural elements would not take away from the musical experience.

Tony Hogg Design and Base Structures
Tony Hogg Design and Base Structures

ZHA and Sandy Brown Associates worked together to perfect the acoustics using CAD models that were imported into acoustic modelling software that tested the different finishes and shapes of the curving form.  Through this collaboration, ZHA’s curving ribbon creates both a strong architectural statement and a great acoustic environment as the form helps scatter the sound reflections to eliminate flutter echoes and enhance the acoustic experience of the concert.

Images courtesy of Tony Hogg Design and Base Structures, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Luke Hayes. All images are copyright.

For further information on all performances and events the Manchester International Festival please visit

Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes
Luke Hayes
Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects
Tony Hogg Design and Base Structures
Tony Hogg Design and Base Structures

CLIENT: Manchester International Festival

PROGRAMME: Chamber Music Hall

ARCHITECTS: Zaha Hadid Architects

DESIGN TEAM (Zaha Hadid Architects): Melodie Leung, Gerhild Orthacker

ACOUSTIC CONSULTANT: Sandy Brown Associates

FABRICATOR: Base Structures


SITE: Manchester Art Gallery, T1 Gallery

SITE AREA: 17m x 25m

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Chamber Music Hall / Zaha Hadid Architects" 08 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Black and white contrast is great… other than that, nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    wow. its so popular to critics zaha regardless of what she has done.

    apparently its successful acoustically and it appears to provide intimacy in a larger space. how were these objectives not reached?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m over Zaha and her meaningless forms, but this is simple and slick. If the acoustics work then bravo….

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Simple, beautiful and by all accounts practical…. Where is Zaha and what have you done with her?!?

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like this.. The form reminds me of something like a conch shell, and the ribbon concept is simple and elegant.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i usually dont like zaha’s projects…too much pretentious and artificious.

    but i think than in this case has solved the requests more than properly with only one system of a winding bondage.

    also is a really beautiful object.


    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Perhaps is because her shapes acquire the elegance their mega-structures lose with the change of scale. Absolutely beautiful. Hope the acoustic works as good as the images.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i don’t like zaha too much but the design looks really nice. but it’s ok only if acustics work..

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I don’t think this at all captures Bach’s music. Okay, maybe one instrument is reasonably well represented, but a symphony is all the instruments.

    HOWEVER it is nice to see Zaha and co shape for optimal preformance. And even though it does’nt capture Bach and is’nt perfectly shaped (some of the shapes are just too small) it definetely has qualities.

    So, Zaha stop doing silly shoes for Lacoste and take stuff like this to yet another level…

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I’m sorry who are you? you must be really great to be able to provide such in depth analysis……I am truely in …..!!!


    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      who the heck are you? not normal

      lol im positive you couldn’t come up with a fraction of her creativity if ur life depended on it.

      zaha is truly an amazing, hugely talented woman. her critics are shallow and ignorant

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Who would have guessed! Zaha only gets one bad comment so far! I was getting ready to read some really rude and predjudiced comments about the architect everyone loves to hate, but i’ve been dissapointed. Clearly i need to go look at gehry or koolhaas if i want to see cutting comments from grumpy know-it-alls. Personally i love this design.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I also don’t think it captures Bach, but music could be intrpreted in whatever ways. I like the structure, sexy, esp. with the chairs. But personally, I don’t think that chair is comfotable for concert. I also don’t understand why they build an open structure in an closed space. The pressure of the cold ceiling would conflict the spirit of fugue into the sky.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Usually architecture is enhanced in its images, that is to say it tends to look better in them than it really is. In this particular case, I feel its more like sculpture, no image will do it justice. Its light ( as in weight) its light ( as related to darkness) fleeting ( all interiors are ephemeral)yet memorable. I believe one will not easily forget the experience of being there.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    amazing use of curves…dat describes her aftr al…u can actually feel da music in it….

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    iknow that zuha haded is the best we all love her and we all wish to be like her…! every day i watch some of zuha haded designs and just stand there SHOKD from the genius work and sey (when we will be cloes to her??!! not like her cus this is somthing impossibol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    It’s better than her pavilion in Chicago. This is a little more open and intriguing in comparison.
    I hope some day to work for her but working for myself would be more fulfilling, either way :) Nice job Hadid.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Does anyone know which software did they use for this digital model? It looks like GC. But I don’t know.


  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    puro formalismo de Zaha como siempre.

    Me parece, como siempre, un intento de los “grandes arquitectos” de estar siempre a la vanguardia tecnologica y asi tener el dominio economico del mercado.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m usually not a big fan of Hadid or her work as well, but this space is quite beautiful. But just because it is beautiful still doesn’t mean that she was successful, or rather that the credit should all go to ZHA. The reason that it is successful from an acoustics standpoint is because of the collaboration with Sandy Brown Associates. The material selection and shapes were influenced by their input. Now collaboration is common within the field but maybe they should receive a little more of the credit versus a base form that ZHA seemingly pulled out of no where that happens to look sexy and was able to be manipulated enough not to detract from the acoustics.

    If I am to believe that she is as great as her hype builds her up to be than perhaps include some of the rationale behind the design. Enlighten the critics as to how the form is not some arbitrary creation that could have been nothing more than an egg sliced in a few place to allow for some bifurcation and subtraction to make it look slick. Let’s see what separates her as an architect from a sculptor…

    Reference Richard Serra’s work. He creates some beautiful spaces with more definable reasoning and justification. But he himself is defined as a sculptor.

    Note: Any disagreements are welcomed, just please make sure that they are above the high school mentality of simple name calling or one line personal insults. I prefer the constructive versus the petty.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    dms lkfnslzen

    i cant stop feeling upset because what i’m thinking inside

    of my brain already exist, this aquastic concept was mine!!!!

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