DR Concert Hall
Ateliers Jean Nouvel

July 21, 2009 /

Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo: Bjarne Bergius Hermansen

With DR Concert Hall, Denmark gets a national and international concert venue and a new architectural landmark for the capital. The complex, part of the TV network's new Headquarters in Copenhagen, contains all facilities for Danish Broadcasting Corporation's music production.

Nouvel's design encloses a series of volumes, housing a different program or function, in a 45 meter tall rectangular box with transparent blue "screen" walls. The building will be constantly changing depending on the lighting conditions and the time of day; both revealing and concealing the interior. At night the building lights up with images projected on the "screen."

The architecture dematerializes and becomes a matter of light and surface effects.

The first idea for the building was the concept of the blue screen, a kind of lantern magic, because of the exceptional situation of the urban condition being a new development. I try to be a contextual architect and generally like to have a dialogue with my neighbors, but in this new urban situation I did not know my neighbors. So I tried to think about myself an an architect in the 11th century who had to build a Cathedral in a city in Europe, and how the buildings then happened around the Cathedral. This was possible because this is probably the largest and most public building here.

The idea after was to create a kind of question "What is this building?"
When you see the building during the day you have a kind of feeling for what is behind the screen, but not really, and it changes a lot with the light. When the sun is lower you see the skyline of the building inside and the framing of the glass facade behind the screen. It is a paradox between a very simple building, and you feel that inside, but you don't really know what is there, only that it is complex. So it is this relationship between simplicity and complexity that is the base of the design.

So the idea was to create a kind of small world belonging to the Concert Hall with a lot of specific singular details, materials and spaces, so when you open a door from one studio to another it is always a new feeling, a new ambience.

That is really the basic architectural idea of the building.

/ Jean Nouvel

Photo: arcspace

Photo: Bjarne Bergius Hermansen

Photo: arcspace

The DR Concert Hall consists of four "studios," all very different in size and design, and thus well suited to all kinds of music.

The foyer is distributed over seven levels - from 2.5 meters underground to about 30 meters above ground level. From the Foyer the public can see the Concert Hall (Studio 1) "floating above the ground" and the musicians playing in studio 2, 3, and 4.

The lower Foyer, with access to three smaller halls, is located below street level. Offices and other functions are located around the halls in the northern part of the complex.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

There are no lamps but rather different color light volumes that simulate city lights.
The walls are of concrete, a so-called "elephant skin," where the concrete is cast with intermediate plastic layers, producing the special folds in the concrete.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The Main Concert Hall, Studio 1, is raised ten meters above street level with the upper Foyer under its "belly", giving the impression of a big wooden sculpture. Escalators and elevators in the upper Foyer lead to the different levels of the Concert Hall.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The stage is in the middle of the Concert Hall, surrounded by 1800 seats on multi-level terracing. Nouvel refers to it like a vineyard with terracing. The ceiling and the wall surfaces are in stained plywood with milled surfaces in order to spread the highest audio frequencies. The characteristic "wave walls" are made of plaster products.

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

As a minimum all the surfaces of the hall weigh 100 kg per square meter which insures the best possible reproduction of the lowest sounds. This means that most surfaces consist of up to six layers of plaster and plywood.
When the Danish National Symphony Orchestra leaves the hall to other musical genres, large curtains are drawn out of the slots in the wave walls to optimize the acoustics of the hall as required.

Studio 2 is inspired by the big production studios in Hollywood. On the plywood walls hang large panels with portraits of selected soloists, conductors and composers printed on them as decoration.
The portraits were processed with a special vector graphics technique, that turn the images into black and white contrasts, then stensiled on the plywood walls.

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Camilla Utke Schiøler

Studio 3, the smallest unit of the Concert Hall, can be customized for any event since there is no fixed stage or audience seating. The black walls, in alternating polished and matte panelling, is inspired by a grand piano. The floor is stained oak.

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Studio 4 is also flexible and can be adapted to a wide variety of events. The walls and ceiling are in deep red shades. The metal coffers are aluminum, the absorbent surface is felt. The floors are stained oak.

Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull

Photo: Henrik Bøgh Frandsen

Events at the Concert Hall will range widely in terms of size and genre: small-scale jazz concerts in the foyer, chamber music, choral, rock and pop concerts in the three smaller concert halls and symphony concerts, guest appearances and large scale rhythmic concerts in the large concert hall.

It will thus be possible to see, hear and experience DR's own orchestras and choirs: Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Danish Radio Sinfonietta, DR Big Band, DR Vocal Ensemble, DR Radio Choir, DR Radio Girls' Choir, DR Youth Ensemble and DR's children's choir, as well as guest performances and guest soloists from Denmark and abroad. Also rhythmical music, where DJs and bands will form new groundbreaking concepts.

Photo: arcpace

Model photo courtesy Atelier Jean NouvelDR_concert_hall_29.jpg
Drawing courtesy Atelier Jean NouvelPlan Level -1DR_concert_hall_30.jpg
Drawing courtesy Atelier Jean NouvelPlan Level 3DR_concert_hall_31.jpg
Drawing courtesy Atelier Jean NouvelPlan Level 6DR_concert_hall_32.jpg
Drawing courtesy Atelier Jean NouvelSection

Facts about DR Concert Hall

Total area:

26,000 m2

Atelier Jean Nouvel

Advisers to Jean Nouvel:

Olivier Boissiere, Hubert Tonka

Local Architect:
Niels Fuglsang A/S

Structural Engineer:

Terrell International S.A.S., Niras


NAGATA Acoustics
Yasuhisa Toyota / Motoo Komoda

Last updated: December 19, 2013

See also

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