We just received Zaha Hadid Architects’ latest project for the Manchester International Festival. ZHA has created a chamber music hall 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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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 www.mif.co.u
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 TENSILE STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Tony Hogg Design Ltd SITE: Manchester Art Gallery, T1 Gallery SITE AREA: 17m x 25m