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Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space_01 | by Wolf D. Prix / Coop Himmelb(l)au
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Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space_01


The design approach studies the impact of physical influences on our hearing perception and how to apply soundscape effects to alter our sensation through transforming and adopting building volumes and their material specifications. Contrary to our built environment, sound or music has no present materiality so it is always perceived at the moment of its generation. Because of this immediate perception of sound our sensations could range from supreme beauty to painful intolerability. In architecture and urban planni, soundscaping design approaches of exterior spaces are barley recognized and hardly ever applied; therefore many public spaces are unattractive in our psychological perception.


The Pavilions spatial structure acts as a “transformator” that changes our perception and sensation of the soundcape on the plaza around the Pavilion and music inside the performance space. The shapes and volume as well as its material specification were developed to recognizably reduce the ambient noise level of the urban plaza setting around the Pavilion. This generates an acoustical “black hole” that changes our perception close to the Pavilion and on the Marstallplatz and heightens our sensation additional to our visual cognition.


Parallel to acoustical approaches and simulations the generation of the form of the Pavilion was driven by the concept of materializing music into architecture. Selected sequences of songs become dynamic forces that transform and create spatial form. Here we transcribed a sequence of Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze” “…’Scuse me while I kiss sky…”. Analyzing the frequencies of the sound file and linking it to the computer generated 3D model, the scripting tool then parametrically transforms the shell into pyramid shaped like spikes. Music becomes frozen and creates perceivable architectural space.


The position of the mobile Pavilion on the southern end of the Marstallplatz in front of the Marstall building and the new Opera rehearsal building meets three important design criteria, it maximizes its visibility in this urban setting, it improves the soundacpe of the plaza and also complies with local fire and building codes. The temporary building volume acts as a sound barrier to block emissions from cars passing by and creates a “zone of silence” around and in front of the Pavilions entrance area.


Towards the street and the Marstall plaza the double shell dissolves from the tilted façade and transforms into an interstitial space that offers a weather protected lounge and bar area. The “transcribed” crystal like inhabitable double skin performs as a transitional space from the plaza to the entrance and towards the main performance space. The main entrance is indicated and high lighted with a folded and cantilevering roof.


The mobile and temporary Pavilion is constructed as a “portable building”. Its modular structures are designed and constructed to be stored into regular sea containers for transport. The Pavilion is conceived to travel and be erected in different locations worldwide and to perform in different urban settings. It can be used with maximum flexibility for a wide range of functions. The primary steel structure is mounted as finished modules and completed with semi finished industrial products. The wall assembly consist of 3mm anodized brush finished aluminium sheets on the exterior, partially perforated with sound absorptive mineral wool panels, and standardized 60mm aluminium sandwich panels on the interior, partially perforated for sound absorption.


The exterior scape of the Pavilion is planned as a programmed ramping landscape to adopt to existing terrain and plaza height differences and create an even event platform and entrance. The surface of the podium is made of absorbing soft material to enhance the physical and psychological sensation on the created absorbing “zone of silence” while approaching the Pavilion.


The interior space is designed to be used for different types of performances and holds 300 seats for different stage settings. The uses are varying from opera, classical music to theatre, lectures and banquette events with focus on maximum flexibility for users and operators.

The interior surfaces can be varied to meet different acoustical and atmospheric settings using pyramid like shaped mobile elements for wall and ceiling to create different sceneries. Complying with standard clamps for production lighting and theatre devices the roof structure is designed to avoid extra technical rigging elements. The interior performance space has overall clear dimensions of 21 m length and 17m width and a variable clear height from 6m to 8m. The backstage service area is conceived as a flexible open space for artists changing room and storage.

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Taken on June 11, 2010