We saw the spiral as the organizing element of the MUMUTH in much the same way as Serialism works in contemporary music./ Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos
Although, according to the architects, the project outwardly has changed considerably since its inception, the two themes that are at the basis of the building and its overall organization have endured.
The principle of a spiral that divides itself into a number of interconnected smaller spirals that take on a vertical and diagonal direction was an important design model for us which we called the blob-to-box model. It illustrated in a simple line diagram how a building could be structured to combine within one, rigorous gesture a strict, unit-based volume (the black box of the theatre) and a series of flowing, movement-based volumes (foyer and public circulation)./ Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos
Because this organizing principle is made constructive, a free, fluent internal spatial arrangement is actualized, efficiently connecting spaces to each other.
The theatre has a public character which is dynamic and which facilitates groups of people moving through it during events, and it has a calm, quiet, intense, but also very flexible and rational character which is related to the specific prescriptions of the auditorium and the rehearsal studios.
There are two entrances; the everyday entrance on the park side which is used by students and staff, and the public entrance on the Lichtenfelsgasse which is used by the audience when there is a performance.
The public ascends the wide staircase and enters a large foyer
on the first floor. The free-flowing space of the foyer is made
possible by a spiraling constructive element that connects the
entrance to the auditorium and to the music rooms above, thus
welding together "with a twist" the three levels of this side of
The dimensions of the twist, a massive concrete construction, necessitated great precision and the use of self compacting concrete which was pumped up from below instead of poured down from above as is the usual method.
The twist forms a central feature of the public space, around which everything revolves. Lighting and material details accentuate the ripple effect. The twist is highlighted from above by a skylight in the ceiling, which itself consists of lamellas executed in dark wood which fan out from the twist in a wave-like pattern.
Our interest in re-establishing a relationship between music and architecture had from the beginning focused on shared aspects such as rhythm, continuity, channelling. Through our readings of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze we learned that there is another element that we had not seriously studied before: the element of repetition./ Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos
Repetition generates an aggregate with densifications, intensifications and intervals. Repetition brings sonority. It allows for improvisation, it marks territory, it codes milieus. We decided to use a repetitive pattern, of our own design, and apply this to the facades in various ways to achieve some of these effects.
The pattern, executed in the muted tones of stage make-up, is found all over the building in various degrees of density. Its appearance is furthermore impacted by changes in light during night and day, as well as by proximity and view angles since the outermost layer of the facade consists of a glittering mesh.
The foyer gives access to the multipurpose auditorium that can seat up to 650, and that is adaptable to a great variety of performances, ranging from solo instruments to dance, to full orchestra. The musical pattern is also applied on the walls in the theater for acoustical reasons.
Having been invited by Georg Schulz, Rector of the University of Music and Performing Arts, to hear a classical trio, a jazz ensemble, and the rehearsal for the opera "The Magic Flute," to be shown for the official opening on March 1, 2009, we can tell you the acoustics are perfect.
This desire to make a building that is as much about music as a building can be, has been a constant throughout the nearly ten years that it took to build it./ Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos
And since the MUMUTH theatre belongs to the University of Graz and is therefore a place where young musicians receive their instruction in the performing and musical arts, it seems to us appropriate to let the architecture communicate that this is a building in which music lives.
Facts about MUMUTH
Gross floor surface: 6,200 m2
Ben van Berkel
Maarten van Tuijl
Wouter de Jonge
Peter Mandl and Partners
Accoustics and building physics:
ZT Gerhard Tomberger Pro Acoustics Engineering
e.f.f.e.c.t.s. technisches Büro GmbH, Klosterneuburg
Photographed by Christian Richters
University for music and dramatic arts
Last updated: January 21, 2013