Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Sinfonia Varsovia Concert Hall in Warsaw, Poland by Atelier Thomas Pucher
April 28th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
The Sinfonia Varsovia Garden – to become a cultural centre for music lovers – a place of meeting and experience exchange between professionals or public recipients. It holds multiple possibilities for musical activities and performances.
Credit List: Thomas Pucher, Stephan Brugger, Klaus Hohsner, Manuel Konrad, Robert Lamprecht, Bernhard Luthringshausen, Erich Ranegger, Jan Schrader, Dominik Troppan, Elisabeth Maria Weber
The Foyer is an extension of the Park into the building – a three dimensional public place that holds numerous possibilities for musical activities, formal and informal performances.
The covering of the floating balustrades is based on the geometry of a snake skin. The hexagonal structure with irregular surface-angles is made of wooden pieces with a weight of 40 kg/m²; resulting in a small-scale microshaping of 50 to 100mm. The elements can easily adapt to the three dimensional form of the balustrades and effectuate a high acoustic diffusion and advantaged mixture of sound.
The Concert Hall is a fusion of Shoebox and Surround Hall. The large Rehearsal Room is situated on first floor; above the lobby. This ensures a certain privacy and intimacy – perfectly suited for rehearsals – but also holds the possibility to use it together with the lobby below for concerts or other public events. Next to the Rehearsal Room is a connection to the old building which holds changing and rest rooms.
The VIP area is situated on first floor in the existing building at Terespolska Street. Here a separate entrance as well as a fluid connection with the lobby is possible. The area is directly connected to the Large Rehearsal Room – for a suitable combination of concerts and events – and with the upper rows of the philharmonic hall.
The Concert Hall- and Sinfonia Varsovia Administration are placed together in the existing building next to Weterynaryjna Street and the Park. Here they share a quiet yet central position in the complex.
The sheet music library is situated in a glass box in the more quiet part of the lobby area. During concerts it gives the appearance of a piece of art in a museum, during regular times it enfolds into the lobby and creates a piece of musical library directly connected to the garden.
The lobby is a continuous extension of the garden into the building. Though looking very simple the floor plan holds the possibility of being divided into a great number of acoustically separated spaces – thus enabling to use the building as a manifold chessboard of music and performance. Together with the garden, the Villa and all public spaces in the building it creates a venue for festivals with 32 indoor and outdoor stages of all sizes and intensities.
In a modified context the Villa continues to be the central building of the garden. It spans a central plaza together with the philharmonic hall (resp. its foyer) which eventually will become the centre of the public outdoor life. The plaza is flexible in use and big enough to hold concerts or other performances (alos with the help of the floating walls as surround-projection space).
As a program of the Villa we suggest restaurant and café on ground floor – in the centre of the garden – and hotel rooms and apartments on the upper floors. Together with additional workshops or music related businesses in the buildings along Grochowska Street this creates additional possibilities for international exchange (artists in residence) and further intensifies the cultural centre.
The parking garage is conceived as one simple and flat space with direct visibility to all sides – ideal in terms of orientation for guests who are not familiar to the place. It is connected to the buildings at Grochowska Street, the Villa and the Philharmonic Hall. There it makes a prominent entrance directly connected to the lobby on ground floor. A separate stairs in the VIP building makes it possible to use it from outside without having to enter the lobby which makes for a better flexibility in terms of public use. Reasonable space has been given to bicycle parking and equipment with electricity stations to promote sustainable transportation.
The form and inclination of the auditorium-bands is chosen as to maximize the view of each visitor to the stage and into the hall. This has been tested through 3D modeling.
The auditorium bands form a simple multilayered loop, which enable every visitor the perfect sight (and direct sound distribution) and organize the access and flow of visitors to their seats.
The bands of the auditorium are directly related to the stage and create a magnificent experience for the audience while the volume of the hall is still based on the principles of the traditional shoebox hall.
Due to the position of the hall 75% of the audience can enter their tiers directly from the lobby on ground floor, using one of the bands up- or downwards. This works also in reverse and thus significantly reduces the space and provisions needed for emergency routes. The main band transforms into a giant grand stairs for public access.
The reverberation chambers of the Philharmonic Hall can be used as additional Foyers for the upper rows of the hall. Thus they bear the possibility of enlarging the hall without the need of extra built volume.
The Rehearsal Area is designed as the top floor of the building. All rooms are situated on one flat level; arranged like a patchwork with integrated lounges, kitchenettes, patios and terraces. All rooms have suitable amount of daylight through the north side, thus preventing glare and over-heating in summer.
The top floor is also the roof structure and technical level of the Philharmonic Hall. Technicians here have easy access to their working areas as well as areas to rest and short vertical connections to the administration and basement level.
The project aims to minimize the materials being used in order to create the most possible clarity. Those materials being used aim to establish specific correlations with each other to create a maximum of distinctive atmospheres. One example is the heavy yet carefully brushed concrete of the floating envelope which turns into a chalked monochromatic space supporting the colorfulness of the garden when seen from the inside. Another one is the fine, nearly textile like appearance of the hexagonal wooden cover of the balustrades.
ATELIER THOMAS PUCHER has won the international competition for the new seat of the world renowned Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra in Warsaw. The 20.000m² cultural centre is housed on the site of a former Veterinary Institute with existing – yet dormant – buildings and a fairy-tale like park. The area occupies a 1.800 seat symphonic hall with first class acoustic properties, large rehearsal areas, merchandise facilities, musical workshops and a small hotel for artists in residence and music lovers on vacation.
The project gives a precise answer meeting the demands of the orchestra as well as the given site with its historical buildings. By enveloping the entire site with a floating wall it serves as an indication to the park as its new centre and creates a distinctive place of silence – the basic principle for an orchestra to perform – full of ambience and drama. The park becomes an open public place and the wall the building that serves it.
The symphonic hall including all rehearsal areas are found within the floating wall. Floating above the foyer it creates a seamless extension of the park into the building that holds several mysteries and miracles: hidden rooms and stairs, a narrow surveillance path at the top and a span of 140m without a single column.
The Concert Hall is a fusion of a Shoebox Hall and an Arena. While the traditional shoe box hall is known for its excellent acoustics but often offers poor visual conditions, the Arena has its advantages with regards to visibility and is hardly applicable when it comes to its acoustic conditions.
The hall for the Sinfonia Varsovia combines the advantages of both by choosing the main shape of a rectangular room with ideal acoustic dimensions and inserting seemingly free formed bands of balconies with perfect viewing angles for visitors into this volume. The three dimensional flow of the balconies and its specific relation to the rectangular volume enables the acoustic properties to be operated on a world class level.
Compared to the second popular type – the vineyard – the hall provides the benefit of compactness, short distances and a volume that is also suited for smaller symphony orchestras and chamber orchestras. For the audience this means that each listener is situated as near to the orchestra as possible and in doing so creates a tremendous impression of being “in midst the music”.
Contact Atelier Thomas Pucher
Category: Concert hall