Unique yet Variable: Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin
Client: Barenboim-Said-Akademie, Berlin
Architects: (Pierre Boulez Hall): Gehry Partners
Location: Berlin (DE)
The Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin was conceived to impart musical skills and knowledge to young musicians from the Near and Middle East in the context of a four-year Bachelor of Music course of studies. As early as 1999, the founder of the academy, the Argentinian-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, together with the literary theorist Edward W. Said from Palestine, founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, in which Israeli and Arab musicians perform together. In 2012, the city of Berlin leased the former scenery depot of the State Opera Unter den Linden to this new institution as a domicile. Barenboim's long-time friend Frank O. Gehry and the Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota were directly commissioned by the academy with the design of the concert hall, which was named after the composer Pierre Boulez. The Berlin architects rw+ were responsible for construction planning and site supervision.
The eastern half of the building was completely gutted to make space for the concert hall, and the facades were strengthened internally with new reinforced concrete walls. Fixed to these is the ring-shaped upper gallery level, which spans the hall like a bridge without supporting columns. Daylight enters through the existing windows in the south and east faces.
The hall was conceived in such a way that all members of the audience sit a maximum of 14 metres from the conductor. Guest performances by soloists and smaller orchestras are also possible here, whereby the musicians are located optionally in the middle of the hall or around the edges of the central oval. The latter can accommodate up to three rows of loose seating. Behind this is space for a further four rows of demountable seating fixed to a telescopic stage. Only the rearmost row of seats around the lower oval and the two rows on the balcony level are fixed.