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Designs revealed for Chipperfield's Edinburgh concert hall

The new music venue will not only provide a modern performance space for Edinburgh but also create a new public place in this somewhat hidden corner of the city
– David Chipperfield

The latest design proposals for David Chipperfield’s 1,000-capacity concert hall in Edinburgh – the city’s first in 100 years – have been publicly revealed for the first time.

The venue, situated behind the historic Dundas House at 36 St Andrew Square, will be the permanent home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) – with a “world class” auditorium and recital and recording space “to rival the best in Europe.”

In addition to chamber music, the venue, called the IMPACT Centre, will also host jazz, folk, rock, pop, electronica and classical performances, as well as solo and song recitals and small dance ensembles. Alongside the main auditorium, there will be two smaller halls with retractable seating to offer different capacity configurations.

The design direction outlined by David Chipperfield Architects, alongside Reiach and Hall Architects, can now be viewed online here.

“We are very excited to be working on the new music venue in a city renowned around the world for its arts and culture,” said Chipperfield. “The setting, within the context of Edinburgh’s historic New Town, is also both stimulating and challenging. The new music venue will not only provide a modern performance space for Edinburgh but also create a new public place in this somewhat hidden corner of the city.”

IMPACT Scotland’s Chair, Sir Ewan Brown, added: “This is an exciting stage in the creation of a vibrant new home for all kinds of music and performance in Edinburgh. We have set the bar high for our design team, asking them to produce a truly modern venue with exceptional acoustics, which also embraces and complements the heritage that surrounds it.

“This is a building being designed from the inside out, with at its heart, a hall offering world-class acoustics for performers and audiences. The design team have concentrated on getting this right, and we are now developing the look of this truly exceptional building and how it will sympathetically enhance its hidden location.”

Adjaye Associates, Richard Murphy, Allies & Morrison, Barozzi Veiga and KPMB were all in contention for the commission, but the vision outlined by Chipperfield's practice was enough to sway the developers of the £45m (US$58.1m, €53.2m) building.

Chipperfield’s practice are collaborating on the project with acoustic consultants Nagata Associates, who have worked on the Elbe Philharmonic in Hamburg. ARUP, Whitby Mohajer Engineers, Gross.Max Landscape Architects and Theatre Projects are also part of the design team.

The building is planned to be completed by 2020.

The IMPACT Centre
The design team’s architectural concept

“The architectural concept of the new venue is driven by two fundamental forces: the inherent typology and acoustic performance of a performing arts venue, predominantly the main concert hall space itself, and the unique morphology of the site and its wider urban condition.

"By dividing the required functions of the venue into three simple and smaller components it can both perform as a world-class music venue and adapt its external form to respond to the wider city and its immediate surroundings.

“The concert hall space sits at the heart of the site, on axis with George Street. Its required acoustic performance dictates the length, width and height of the space that in turn directly forms the main body and gently curved shape of the building. Two orthogonal ancillary volumes to the north and south relate to the scale of the surrounding buildings and the accumulative growth of Dundas House itself.

“The curved form of the hall volume softens its presence to the rear of Dundas House. Its subtle dynamism provides the new venue with its own identity within the cityscape signifying its important role as a collective gathering space for the enjoyment of music.

“The proposed design is formed of three intersecting volumes. Where the curved shape of the hall addresses the wider city with its distinctive form the venue’s two smaller, lower volumes house the venue’s ancillary functions and reduce the overall mass of the building to anchor it within the scale, geometry and atmosphere of the surrounding streets and neighbouring buildings.

“The intention of the proposed landscape around the IMPACT Centre is that it will become a seamless public space linking the range of different urban conditions around the site with each other and the ground floor of the building. The public realm is to be fully accessible to all people.”

IMPACT Centre  Edinburgh  Scottish Chamber Orchestra  David Chipperfield  Reiach and Hall  Sir Ewan Brown 
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The latest design proposals for David Chipperfield’s 1,000-capacity concert hall in Edinburgh – the city’s first in 100 years – have been publicly revealed for the first time. The venue, situated behind the historic Dundas House at 36 St Andrew Square, will be the permanent home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) – with a “world class” auditorium and recital and recording space “to rival the best in Europe.” In
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In addition to chamber music, the venue will also host jazz, folk, rock, pop, electronica and classical performances, as well as solo and song recitals and small dance ensembles / The IMPACT Centre
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