Elizabeth Diller unveils design concept for London’s Centre for Music

Elizabeth Diller unveils design concept for London’s Centre for Music

Elizabeth Diller has unveiled the design concept for the new Centre for Music in London. The centre will bring the activities of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Guildhall School and the Barbican together into a welcoming, future-focussed facility that will contribute to the cultural offering of the City of London’s Square Mile.

Located at the southern tip of the Barbican site, the building’s design will harness the existing high wall walks of the brutalist estate. These tributaries are ‘extended metaphorically up the building,’ says Diller, architect and partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Pathways from the street flow through the Centre for Music to the summit of the building. The foyer is multi-levelled and always in contact with the city beyond through glazing, while also revealing views into the first floor main concert hall at the core. Sunken seating spaces for informal education or pre-concert talks are layered into the foyer design – welcoming all, with or without a ticket, says Diller.

The main concert Hall. Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The main concert hall. Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The main concert hall, seating 2,000 people with acoustics modelled by Nagata Acoustics, was designed with geological formations in mind. It is irregularly contoured, with steeply layered strata of seating surrounding the stage, so each member of the audience is always connected to the conductor.

A second smaller concert hall, the ‘Coda’ is positioned at the top of the building above a layer of commercial space including a ‘destination restaurant’. This concert hall, designated for more experimental performances, has a window stretched across two facades, with views to St Paul’s.

Raised up off the ground to open up public realm beneath the building, the architecture’s layered effect was designed as a ‘tapestry of experiences’ says Diller, to capture ‘the theatre of the theatre’.

Learning is a key part of the design. Education pods, on conductor Sir Simon Rattle’s wishlist for the Centre for Music, will offer a new way for students to experience live music and learn from the process behind performance. There are two large studio workspaces and a new Institute for Social Impact, that will contribute research to the global discourse on the importance of music today. §

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