Boring Bonn dumps Zaha Hadid

Boring Bonn dumps Zaha Hadid


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2014

The city is planning a new Beethoven concert hall on the Rhine. The adventurous Zaha was longlisted, but has been dumped from the final three.

This is what Bonn can expect – London’s South Bank, only drearier.



This is the David Chipperfield design. There are two others on the shortlist.

No wonder young people find classical music dull.



  • John Borstlap says:

    Chipperfield and Hadid form two abject extremes on the modernist scale, and miss Zaha is ‘adventurous’ in the way Jack the Ripper was.

    In the Anglosaxon world, there are contemporary architects who have revived the classical tradition: Leon Krier (creator of Poundbury / UK, new town in classical, humanist style, supported by Prince Charles), Quinlan & Francis Terry, Allan Greenberg, Dmitri Porphyrios, Robert Adam. One of them could build a beautiful and practical new concert hall worthy of Beethoven’s birth place.

    David Schwartz designed a classical concert hall, expressing the nature of the type of culture offered there: Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville:

    New classical architecture is a new, humanist and aesthetically fulfilling trend, part of ‘new urbanism’striving after comparable ideals. Very convincing article here:

    These poor bureaucrats in Bonn are still suffering from the postwar hangover: a modernist German is a morally ‘good’ German, however awful the result.

  • Jan de Jong says:

    The Valentiny hall is great!

  • Anonymus says:

    The “adventurous” Hadid hall looks like a guaranteed acoustic disaster. Thankfully sorted out. From the short list, kadawittfeld looks also like bad acoustics for most of the audience, the other two seem promising from the point of good concert acoustics, but Chipperfield from the outside seems uninspired. That leaves Valentiny as the only promising winner.

    • Hilary says:

      Zaha Hadid’s buildings have a visionary look about them but have impractical aspects which could court disaster in a concert hall. I’m a big fan of the Olympic pool in Stratford but the impressive south facing windows are now muted by a blue cover as the glare from the sunlight was detrimental for swimmers and lifeguards.

  • Simon S. says:

    Shoebox beats vineyard. Go, Chipperfield!

    • Chris says:

      Shoebox vs vineyard is not the dualism. The dualism is theater auditorium (audience in front of the stage) vs. circus maximus/amphitheater (spectators all around). Only uninitiated to the art of music performance would place substantial amounts of audience sideward to and behind the stage. It’s simply acoustic nonsense. Karajan supported the crazy concept because his vanity was stronger than his humility to the music itself…

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Since when does attending concerts for non-musical reasons create long term listeners?

  • Chris says:

    The kadawittfeld design shows on the inside of the hall an arena design, audience all around, with a modeled piano/singer setup, a “Liederabend” and about a third to a half of the audience sitting behind the piano and the singer. Are these “architects” and their acoustic consultants really such idiots, that they don’t realize, that placing audience behind a singer is just nonsense? Are they mad? Do they never attend classical concerts?

    • Anonymus says:

      They claim to be inspired by the amphitheater design… Hahaha.
      “The interior inverts the upward movement of the façade by burrowing the vineyard-form concert hall amphitheater-style into the belly of the complex.”

      Amphitheaters (amphi is greek for ‘around’) were used for circensic games, gladiator fights etc. exclusively. Not for theater performances. Theater performances were always… you guessed it… in theaters… which were only half circles and never had audience behind the performers. Hilfe wir verblöden.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      It works rather well overall in the Philharmonie in Berlin.

      • Chris says:

        No it doesn’t. Too many seats have very bad acoustics there. Particularly for a setup like a singer with a piano. You have apparently bought the Emperor Karajan’s new clothes. 😉 Be aware, he just wanted those visuals and camera perspectives focused on him the arena layout allows…