The 40-page acoustic brief, prepared by Eckhard Kahle and Richard Denayrou, was probably the most comprehensive acoustic brief ever written for a concert hall. The brief required great clarity and high reverberance and specified more than 10 acoustical parameters to be achieved in the room.
In 2006, the brief was published along with a request for expressions of interest. Ninety-eight teams submitted including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel.
Ateliers Jean Nouvel (AJN) was recommended to contact Sir Harold Marshall as Marshall Day Acoustics (MDA) has a reputation for responsible innovation in concert hall design. The association of AJN and MDA proved to be a winner. The team first made the shortlist of six and then went on to win the 10-week long design competition with a radical new design.
The solution to the challenging brief, is a space made up of two nested chambers an inner floating seating area producing visual and acoustical intimacy between audience and performer and an outer space with its own architectural and acoustical presence.
This original design required innovations in architecture, structural engineering, stage design and acoustical engineering.
Jean Nouvel and lead acoustician Sir Harold Marshall conceived the room during a synergetic design workshop that saw the architect, theatre consultant and acoustician working in a highly collaborative environment. This meeting of minds an MDA speciality achieved a result that would not have been possible with an autocratic or formulaic approach to the design.
The photo below shows the floating inner seating planes and the clouds (nuages) that weave their way through the upper space to provide lateral reflections to all the upper seating. Supplementary reflections are provided by ribbons at the rear of some seating areas and by side walls around the stalls.