The art of modularity - concert halls as versatile cultural venues

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unsplash/Geert Pieters
News I Image: 2024, Radek Grzybowski, Konzertsaal,

Concert and event halls are the heart of many cultural institutions; they are where people listen, experience and create. In today's world, a good concert hall must not only have ideal acoustics and good sightlines, but also meet the requirements of a wide variety of formats. This requires modular spaces that adapt to what is on offer and also provide inspiration for new ideas. But what does modularity mean in concert halls? It is certainly not just about moving walls or rearranging seats, but about understanding the space itself as an artistic instrument.

A look at the concert hall landscape shows that there are currently only a few versatile modular concert halls that meet these requirements. Examples include the György Ligeti Hall in the Mumuth in Graz and the Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin. The György Ligeti Hall is particularly impressive due to its technically variable acoustics, digital equipment and completely flexible seating for events ranging from conferences to concerts. The Pierre Boulez Hall is a pioneer in the field of modularity for concerts. Thanks to its technical equipment and its own online platform, it also enables the special intimacy and closeness of interaction between artists and audience to be experienced in an online medium. The circular shape with its flexible stage design and the possibility of integrating the audience into the artistic event at different locations attracts modern music pioneers with innovative formats to the venue. However, such offers, which are groundbreaking for a sustainable further development of the cultural landscape, have so far rarely found suitable premises. This may be due to the particular challenge of designing modular concert halls. This consists in particular of combining the diverse requirements that arise from the very different uses in a single space. Interviews with leading orchestras, such as the Stegreif Orchester (winner of the TONALi Award 2023), confirm the heterogeneous requirements of artists in new formats.

„Ein moderner Konzertsaal darf sich nicht durch bestehende Formate begrenzen, er muss Inspiration geben Neues bisher nicht da Gewesenes zu erschaffen.“

Lorenz Blaumer, Stegreif Orchester


From the opening of the hall into the entrance area to welcome the audience before the official start, to the changing integration of the audience at different locations during the course of the concert, the space must fulfill a wide range of functionalities. Today's conceivable formats must not represent the limits of usability in planning. Modern concert halls and their modular usability serve as inspiration for artists for new formats and thus actively shape the further development of the concert landscape.
Despite all the modularity, however, the classic quality requirements must not be neglected. Acoustics in particular remain the most important feature of a concert hall and must meet the highest standards, even with different uses and room designs. The actual exploitation of the potential of a modular concert hall identified in the design and planning process also depends on the organizational and operational conditions that will exist later. Different usability, flexibility and changeability of a concert hall entail complex personnel, logistical and structural requirements, which should be considered at an early stage of a construction or refurbishment project.

actori will be happy to help you as a source of inspiration for the development of suitable uses through to the development of a customized solution for your overall project.


An impulse contribution by Julius Geiger, Consulting.

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