Zaha Hadid architects: JS Bach chamber music hall, Manchester. (2009)

Text from zaha hadid architects: '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.

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 reflect 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.

project details:
client: manchester international festival
programme: chamber music hall
architects: zaha hadid architects
design team: 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

Zaha Hadid Pavilion installation time lapse from Manchester Art Gallery on Vimeo.

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