Caruso St John Architects

2000–2001
Location: London, UK
Client: Corporation of London
Project Status: Built

The restructuring of the Barbican Concert Hall was driven by technical requirements; to renew the air conditioning system and house lighting, to provide a new system of production lighting, to more flexibly accommodate events, and to improve the acoustics for concerts. Physically, these works were very substantial, and the task was to accommodate them in a way that both lifts the dramatic intensity of the hall and enhances what is pleasurable about the existing listed interior.

A system of acoustic reflectors is suspended within the deep concrete structure of the hall's ceiling. The reflectors are curved and scaled to allow them to adopt varying angles in different parts of the ceiling best suited for reflection. They overlap one another and form a radial geometry around the focus of the hall, like a chandelier woven into the concrete.

All the elements of the new ceiling are clad in acid etched stainless steel, whose surface appears to change colour from purple to bronze when seen at different angles from a single viewpoint. Its qualities create an optical phenomenon, sensitive to the lighting effects on the stage and the movements of the orchestra and the audience.