Photo © Manfred Hanisch
Photo © Tomas Riehle

Düsseldorf Concert Hall

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Location
Düsseldorf, Germany
Year
2008

The Düsseldorfer Concert Hall on the Rhine, originally called the Rheinhalle, was built in 1926 by Wilhelm Kreis as a planetarium. Together with the Ehrenhof-Komplex and the Rheinterrasse, it belonged to the so-called Dauerbauten (structures designed to last) of the Gesolei (Große Ausstellung für Gesundheits-pflege, soziale Fürsorge und Leibesübungen), or Great Exhibition for Health Care, Social Welfare, and Physical Exercise that was held in Düsseldorf in 1926. In its materiality, proportions, and quality of detail, the Expressionistic brick architecture of the round dome structure is of timeless beauty. Severely damaged in World War II, the building was subsequently converted into a concert hall at the suggestion of Helmut Hentrich. By retaining the exterior façade, the dome, and the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) north of the domed hall, the structure was successfully transformed into a completely new work of architecture characterized by a very special and intense atmosphere.

After almost thirty years of operation the need for revitalization became evident. The technical facilities were refurbished during the season break in 2005 and the building’s protection against fire was improved to satisfy current standards. Particular attention was devoted to a drastic improvement of the problematic acoustics of the dome structure, including the elimination of what had become known as the Klopfgeist, or “knocking ghost,” the disturbing echo produced by the dome. Together with the acoustic engineers, the dome vault was completely redesigned. The elimination of the echo effect and the maintenance of appropriate volume levels were accomplished with the aid of a complex system of polygonally arranged deflectors placed behind an acoustically transparent inner dome made of bronze fabric. The result is that the sound is reflected several times by the deflectors and thereby uniformly distributed. Since its refurbishment, the concert hall has been able to meet the highest international demands. By means of a special lighting design, the changes made to the hall through the acoustic intervention allow the space to be gradually transformed from a classic vaulted dome into a celestial canopy that generates a metaphysical effect - an echo of the hall’s original use as a planetarium.

Brief
Revitalization according to landmark

Client
Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf

GFA
9.682 m²

Seats
1.854

Year of completion
1926

Conversion
1978

Revitalization
2005 and 2008

Award
Europa-Nostra-Prize 1979, exemplary building in North Rhine-Westphalia

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