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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.

Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space in Munich, Germany by Coop Himmelb(l)au

July 5th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Coop Himmelb(l)au


The task which we had to solve with our design was to create a space with 300 seats (or 700 standing spectators) for experimental performances of the Bavarian State Opera. The Pavilion should be dismountable, transportable and re-mountable and make the respective urban space distinctive through its shape.

Night View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba)

  • Architect: Coop Himmelb(l)au
  • Name of Project: Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space
  • Location: Munich, Germany
  • Images: © Duccio Malgamba
  • Client: The Free State of Bavaria represented by The Bavarian State Opera Munich, Germany
  • General contractor: Frener & Reifer Metallbau GmbH, Augsburg, Germany
  • Acoustics: ARUP, London, UK

Night View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba)

  • Planning: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, Wolf D. Prix / W. Dreibholz & Partner ZT GmbH, Design Principal: Wolf D. Prix
  • Project partner: Paul Kath
  • Project architect: Volker Kilian
  • Design architect: Sophie-Charlotte Grell
  • Project team: Daniel Bolojan, Wendy W Fok, Martin Jelinek, Daniela Kröhnert, Valerie Messini, Judith Mussel, Martin Neumann, Renate Weissenböck
  • Models: Sebastian Buchta, Paul Hoszowski
  • 3D Visualization: Isochrom / Armin Hess
  • Media technology: CAT-X, Vienna, Austria
  • Concept: Hannes Köcher, Florian Prix
  • Programming: Hannes Köcher
  • Project management: Florian Prix, Claudia Oriold
  • On-site setup: Geari Schreilechner, Ruben Bunka, Hannes Köcher, Florian Prix


  • Acquisition / Study: 02/2008
  • Start of Planning: 10/2009
  • Start of Construction: 04/2010
  • Opening: 06/2010

Project data:

  • Site area: 1.790 m²
  • Net area: 430 m²
  • Gross area: 560 m²
  • Footprint: 560 m²
  • Volume: 4.350 m³
  • Height: 12,5 m
  • Length: 38,5 m
  • Width: 25,5 m
  • Building costs: EUR 2,1 Mio netto (exkl. MwSt.)

Technical description Light installation:

  • Projections: 5 Panasonic PT-D6000 with wide angle lens
  • Software: custom Max/MSP Jitter patch via Dual Matrox Triple Head Output
  • Structural: custom cat-x/Artex projector mounting


Exterior View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba)

Mass and therefore weight are the decisive criteria for good acoustics. The conception of the Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space therefore had to overcome a contradiction: to design a lightweight construction which must allow to be dis- and re-assembled quickly, but which at the same time meets the acoustical requirements of a concert hall.

Hence how do we create the conditions for good acoustics despite a reduction of mass? Already the first considerations fixed in drawings show the basic concept of the Pavilion to introduce elements which are on the one hand the spatial transformation of sound sequences, and which on the other hand develop sound reflecting and absorbing properties through their pyramid-like shape: “Soundscaping”.


Exterior View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba)

The idea to combine architecture with music is not new. Also the term soundscaping is not new. Similar to landscaping it involves “Gestalt”. Soundscaping originates in the 1940’s and designates a method of composing. In architecture, Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis together engaged in the topic of music and architecture when they thought about three-dimensional implementation of musical compositions (Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion and the partition of the windows in La Tourette).

Our strategy to achieve soundscaping comprises three steps: Firstly, to realize the shielding effect between square and street, secondly, to shape the geometry of the Pavilion in such a way that the surface deflects noise, and thirdly, to design the surface of the Pavilion in such a way that it reflects and absorbs sound.

As a starting point towards the abstraction of music into spatial form, a sequence from the song “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix and a passage from “Don Giovanni” by Mozart were transcribed. Through the analysis of frequence sections from these pieces of music and through the combination with the computer generated 3D model, the sequences are translated into pyramidal “spike constructions” by means of parametric “scripting”.

Interior View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba)

In order to implement the objectives of the interior spatial acoustics, the interior wall and ceiling surfaces were fitted with a combination of perforated absorbing and smooth reflecting sandwich panels. The flooring of the Pavilion is carried out as a reflecting even “stage floor”. Sound reflecting, parallel wall and ceiling surfaces are avoided and are therefore tilted or skewed.

The development of the acoustical elements was carried out together with the acoustics department of Arup; the applied construction and materials were worked out with Frener & Reifer.

Light Installation

The architectural design of the inner space is complimented and enhanced by an installation in the lounge developed by cat-x. The complex multiple projection not only illuminates the interior of the lounge, but changes the perception of the space, so that the architecture seems to move.

The oscillating movements interact with the sound coming from the Opera Pavilion and react to the current performances. Thereby the content – the music – is transported from the auditorium to the lounge, mapping audio “inside out”. According to the formal strategy of the architectural concept – the transformation of the spectral information of an audio signal as basic element of the form – is translated into a real-time concept for the design of the projections.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Duccio Malgamba )

Space is transformed into sound, sound is turned into light and light (re- and dis)forms the structure, thus creating an abstracted mini opera feedback space.

The edges of the architectural structure are emphasized by brighter projections. To enhance the contrast, the illuminatoin between them is reduced. A minimalistic color- and sound flow covers the surfaces; the spectral information abstracted from the current audio signal flows into these spaces.

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Category: Opera House

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