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House of Music: Denmark’s Solar Powered Symphony Hall
Multi-functional centers are great – same complex, different uses, minimal infrastructure. The House of Music in Aalborg, Denmark is just such a place, combining public and performance space with cultural and education functionality. Designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au this multifunctional center is a marvel of Solar passive design and features a south-facing facade covered with thin-film photovoltaics that help to reduce its energy use. With a concert hall, auditoriums, public courtyards and sustainable design features, Denmark has a wonderful addition to its cultural scene.
“Organized around the concept of sharing and synergy,” the House of Music allows interaction amongst different organizations, groups and activities to create dynamic results. The exterior of the Hall is characterized by an assembly of geometric shapes and large glass facades with views out into the city and public courtyards below. A U-shaped educational facility is raised up behind the main auditorium, which is a 1,300 seat symphonic concert hall. The “shoebox design” of the concert hall has an optimal balance of acoustics and sight-lines, and also gives the audience a feeling of closeness. Inside the concert hall, a very different sort of architecture is at play with curvilinear lines and a more organic, fluid experience, which is at direct contrast to the exterior.
Sustainable design elements are at play throughout the House of Music. Natural ventilation without the use of any electric ventilation equipment is used to move air through the main foyer. Operable windows low in the structure pull in fresh air, which moves up through the tall structure and out more operable windows at the top. Radiant heating and cooling in the concrete slab floors helps control the climate inside, while the concrete walls act as thermal mass to store heat for the building. Solar passive design plus a two layer facade on the south side of the structure also helps reduce energy use. The two layer facade acts as both a shading device and integrates thin-film photovoltaics to generate energy for use in the Hall.
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