House of Music’s undulating roof by Sou Fujimoto evokes tree canopy
Architect Sou Fuijimoto and Liget Budapest Project reveal the House of Music in Hungary, a striking cultural landmark with a nature-inspired roof
The highly anticipated House of Music in Hungary has opened its doors. The new, leading European cultural venue, designed by the renowned Japanese architecture studio of 2022 Wallpaper* Design Awards judge Sou Fujimoto, not only represents a striking new landmark for the country, but it also is the architect’s very first completed, permanent, new-build in the continent. Dedicated to music in Budapest and built as part of the Liget Budapest Project, the House of Music is now ‘Europe’s largest and most ambitious, multiple award-winning urban cultural development’, say its creators; and it’s opening its doors to the public today (23 January 2022).
The structure is clearly defined by its distinctive, undulating roof. Far from being just an aesthetic decision or an architectural whim, this element is carefully designed to host a range of interactive musical experiences. Located within Budapest’s green City Park, the venue’s volume formation references trees and the natural canopy of foliage and forests. A glass façade – reaching a soaring 12m high in places – mirrors the verdant surroundings and makes for a light presence that directs the eye upwards, towards the ceiling. There, ‘30,000 decorative tree leaves [are] set in the suspended ceiling and secured in place by a steel structure made out of 1,000 honeycomb-shaped elements’.
Inside, concert halls (featuring cutting-edge aural design by Nagata Acoustics, the studio behind similar centres such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, and Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg) and music venues of different scales and types are complemented by exhibition space that is planned to tell stories around the history of European music (the first foray into the field will showcase the history of Hungarian pop music from 1957 to 1993). Three interior levels provide ample opportunity to celebrate music in various forms – from the lower ground display areas, to the ground floor performance spaces and finally, that roof, inside which music playing meets education in state-of-the-art learning facilities.
A range of renewable energy strategies, such as geothermal sources, create strong eco credentials for the new House of Music, which was designed around respectful, sustainable architecture principles. Some 100 holes of various sizes perforate the roof, connecting this building to its natural surroundings in more ways than one, allowing air and light to enter the building and filter through to the ground floor in a pleasant, semi-open architectural arrangement.
‘We were enchanted by the multitude of trees in the City Park and inspired by the space created by them. Whilst the thick and rich canopy covers and protects its surroundings, it also allows the sun’s rays to reach the ground. I envisaged the open floor plan, where boundaries between inside and outside blur, as a continuation of the natural environment,’ says Sou Fujimoto. §