A central priority in ZHA’s urban design concept for a new Beethoven Festival Hall is linking the city of Bonn to the Rhine River promenade and leveraging that idea’s potential to enrich public life on the river’s edge.

PROGRAM: Symphony Hall, Chamber Music Hall / Recital Hall
CLIENT: Deutsche Post AG, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Postbank
ARCHITECT:  Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Project Architects: Thomas Vietzke and Jens Borstelmann
Project Team: Torsten Broeder, Kristof Crolla, Tom Wuenschmann,Evan Erlebacher, Andres Schenker, Chryssanthi Perpatidou, Elizabeth Bishop, Michael Powers, Teoman N.Ayas, Michael Mader, Goswin Rothenthal, Tariq Khayyat, Yelda Gin
CONSULTANTS:
Structural Engineers: Bollinger & Grohmann [Frankfurt]
Facade Consultant:  Bollinger & Grohmann [Frankfurt]
Acoustic and Venue Consultant: Arup [London]
M&E Consultant:  Arup [Berlin]
Cost Consultant: SENSE [London]
Light Consultant: Brandi [Hamburg]
Orchestra Consultant: Aldo Ceccato [Milan]
SIZE: Total Floor Area 12,800 m2, Site Area 37,000 m2, Footprint Area  46,000 m2

Learning from the missed opportunities during the planning of the existing building in the 1950’s, ZHA’s proposal not only incorporates a high degree of porosity in its site plan, but intensifies the connection by introducing a transparent “Rhine Foyer” into the building mass; a dramatic atrium that stretches from the City to the Rhine. With two main facades, the building presents itself in an open and inviting manner to the River and the City, allowing for deep visual links through its crystalline mass. The light Rhine Foyer will make audiences and performers feel comfortable and relaxed but simultaneously excited by the anticipation of a unique experience.

Site circulation can take place uninterrupted through various levels inside and around the building. Artificial landscape formations lead from inside the building to terraced outdoor areas, interweaving the elevated foyer levels with surrounding exterior plateaus. The stepped topography on the Rhine invites Bonn residents and visitors to informally enjoy outdoor performances.

The main public route is a large diagonal passage, an “erosion,” running from the city through the Rhine Foyer and down a large exterior staircase to the river promenade. The promenade is sliced into curvilinear seating that gently step down to the Rhine, facing a seasonal floating performance area on the water’s edge. Illumination from within the foyer, embedded in the ground, and floating in the water will change the character of the site and building during evening performances. The building becomes a performer itself. The new Beethoven Symphony Hall will be an icon for the city of Bonn and a living.

FORM

Sculpted Exterior A jewel is placed on the Rhine riverbank. Its faceted external surface oscillates between crisp edges, like a crystalline rock formation, and rounded areas where large openings occur.  Dynamic perforations wrap the volume, allowing for a gradient of light conditions throughout the building. At night, the object turns transparent, glowing from the inside.

Polishing and smoothing

The volume’s exterior surface is articulated through a series of planar cuts. A crystalline surface tessellation results from the applied operation of cutting and sharpening, as well as smoothing and polishing.

Some planes are further subdivided with a smaller secondary pattern that allows for a porosity and transparency inside the building. This pattern is based on components that follow the morphology of the building as a whole. Variations within the pattern provide a visual rhythm that both differentiates and unifies the façade.

Inlays

The large wooden symphonic hall is inlayed like a musical instrument’s resonating body within the exterior envelope, faintly expressing itself towards the outside. A warm glow resonates from within. The formal counterpoint to the large hall is constituted through the smaller recital and chamber music hall. The large concert hall and the smaller recital hall are wrapped in their own skins in such a way that both volumes appear subtly through the exterior envelope. Both volumes are shaped by their internal acoustic logics in order to provide a world class musical experience, while finer interior modulations are introduced to provide atmospheric qualities that enhance visitor experience and performance requirements. In this way, the shape of the two halls is translated into a more fluid continuum of lines and surface patterns on their skins. Visitors can experience both volumes simultaneously from various viewpoints on different levels in the building’s lobby. The Rhine Foyer space might evoke the impression of being in a river valley surrounded by rock erosions on opposite river banks.

Carved out Interior

The ‘Rhine Foyer’ with its curvilinear characteristics can be perceived as an in-inversion of the external facets. The enhancement of public and cultural life within this carved out passage is what is aimed for in this scheme. The experience of music on an experimental and possibly less formal level within this canyon space would attract visitors beyond the activities taking place within the concert and chamber music halls.

At certain access points as well as at large glazed openings, the building’s convex shape shows concave indentations. These “in-inverting” operations mark special points of perception or visitor flow. Formal devices become orientation devices and support navigation through the site.

Artificial Landscape

At various points, surfaces fold from the building into the landscape and continue the surface tessellation on the ground. The concert hall’s crystalline form is echoed in the artificial landscape’s modulations. On the Rhine, large terraces stretch out like rocks, ramping down from the lobby into the park facing the Rhine. Similarly, certain landscape features extend into the building’s lobby to provide the interior with the same formal and spatial logic as the surrounding land formations.

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