Has Jean Nouvel created the world's greatest concert hall?..
Performing venues as a building type are now regularly testing the established adage that form follows function. Coming in all shapes and sizes, contemporary performing spaces have reacted to new demands imposed on them in recent years. Operators, keen to shrug off an elitist image and desperate to attract younger audiences, have been pushing their architects to design more ‘transparent’ venues. Buildings that allow the public to pervade their outer boundaries and even, in some cases, to allow glimpses of rehearsals from the street. Rafael Viñoly ’s recently completed ‘inside out’ Curve theatre in Leicester being a classic example of this new imperative.
So complex are the demands on a 21st century performing venue, that it came as a surprise to see Jay Merrick of the UK newspaper The Independent claiming that Jean Nouvel’s new four hall complex in Copenhagen may be the best in the world. The complexity of this building type, establishing a balance between the all important acoustics, visitor experience and the building’s impact on its urban surroundings must make this sweeping statement questionable