Art of sound

In 2008, Konior Studio had began a planning process to design a new seat for the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NPRSO) in Katowice. During the process, the architects decided to enlist Nagata Acoustics from Japan, one of the best acousticians’ team in the world, and the Stangel company based in Zgierz, Poland, which specializes in miniatures and models construction.

© Konior Studio; project of the new seat of NPRSO

The companies were invited to cooperation to prepare the hall’s design in accordance with the latest acoustic standards which are implemented in such buildings across the globe. Nagata Acoustics were recommended to Konior Studio by the world renowned Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman. The company designed such concert halls as Suntory Hall in Toronto, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen.

From the beginning, the hall was designed by Konior Studio as a shoebox-shape music concert hall with about 1 800 seats. During the collaboration with Nagata, the team added seats around the stage so that the hall’s interior arrangement much more resembles a “vineyard” configuration. Slanting terraces surround the orchestra on all sides. Its interior has many curved surfaces and a complex geometry and it was essential to build a wooden model where Nagata could test acoustics. Only three concert halls in Europe – in Copenhagen, Paris and Hamburg – were designed using this type of model.

The company of Stangel was chosen to build the model of the concert hall in 1:10 scale. It weighs nearly 4,5 tons and was constructed in Aleksandrów Łódzki, Poland. Everything had to be the same as it will be in the real hall including materials, proportions, number of audience. To imitate the music lovers, small puppets were seated in the auditorium. All of them are suited as clothes absorb sound and it had to be considered while making the tests. Using small microphones, speakers and even pot-hangers to stimulate an airflow, the wooden construction was studied considering: time of reverberation, the level of sound absorption, audibility at every point. The researches are necessary to create a shape of the hall. Most of the tests were already conducted. There is a one more left. Then, the model will be dismantled and transported to Katowice where is going to be exhibited.

The miniatures of concert halls and the puppets give a great opportunity to promote those buildings. The Paris Philharmonic prepared a special movie where the model’s puppets tells a history of music. In Copenhagen, where the model is exposed in the Concert Hall, visitors can see that some of the puppets are dressed different than others pretending the Danish Royal Family.

The City Hall of Katowice, an investor of the building, plans to call for a bid in Q1 2011. Construction works will start the same year and are expected to be concluded in 2013. The new seat of NPRSO will cost PLN 265 million.