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Client: Base Structures (2009)

Auditorium for JS Bach concerts; fabric on steel frame

Zaha Hadid Architects' design team have created a unique chamber music hall 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.
Photographs copyright Luke Hayes courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
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