LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Aural Architecture


From Jean Nouvel's Culture and Congress Center to Rem Koolhaas's Casa da Musica, today's starchitects are giving music a modern makeover.

Contemporary architecture has the power to turn back-road regions and underdog destinations into A-list cultural attractions. When powerhouse names like Santiago Calatrava, Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry build it, people come. For evidence of this new creative force — something we like to call "starchitectural pull" — look no further than Bilbao, Spain, where Frank Gehry turned the former off-radar city into an international art Mecca with his glorious Guggenheim Museum. Valencia, Porto, Lucerne, Los Angeles: if the same rule for art applies to music, these cities — each the proud new host of a spectacular concert hall designed by one of the world's leading architects — will soon be climbing the to-see lists of the culture-craving cognoscenti. As sweet on the eyes as they are to the ears, each dynamic new center is a pitch perfect marriage of cutting age architectural and acoustic design thanks to collaborations with expert acousticians such as Russell Johnson and Yasuhisa Toyota (who worked with both Gehry and Koolhaas on their respective projects).

Frank Gehry: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA There is perhaps no architect working today who is as prolific and celebrated as Frank Gehry. His lyrical, spontaneous compositions — sensuous blends of swooping curves and broad rhythmic loops — erupt from the ground like space-age flowers bursting with wild, electrified energy. His design for the Disney Concert Hall is in many ways a structural snapshot of the dramatic, exhilarating crescendo of a musical Fugue — cradled by the surrounding calm of the Los Angeles skyline, it rises like the notes in a frenetic passage into a billowy, reflective mass of stainless steel. This summer season the California Philharmonic fills its sweeping interiors with divine sounds in a special concert series that includes American Celebration, Rodgers & Hammerstein Songbook, Pictures at an Exhibition, Phantom Goes to the Opera and Movie Magic. Jean Nouvel: Culture and Congress Center (KKL), Lucerne, Switzerland On the shores of the bucolic Lake Lucere, offering uninterrupted views of the water and the surrounding mountain vista, sits this captivating symphony of the senses designed by France's undisputed architectural star, Jean Nouvel. Originally designed as a sleek ship, Nouvel reworked his concept into vessel-like volumes harboring deep, water fissures from the adjacent lake. Reflecting the rippling of the waves on it's underside, the building's giant, razor thin copper roof slices into the sky, sheltering patrons enjoying cocktails on its massive airy terrace before they head down into the enormous auditorium for an unforgettable night of sound. Through October, enjoy delicious grilled delicacies at this magical setting while the KKL barbecue sizzles! HYPERLINK "" Santiago Calatrava: Reina Sofia Palace of the Arts, Valencia, Spain The crowning jewel in Santiago Calatrava's ambitious City of Arts and Science urban development project, Valencia's new Opera House is a breathtaking emblem of the city's dynamic cultural renaissance. Fashioned like a stark futuristic helmet made of concrete, steel and ceramic, it beautifully brandishes Calatrava's inimitable strain of structural surrealism. Sculptural, bold and poetic, the colossal complex sits atop a series of magisterial stairs, floating upon a serene translucent pool like a Star Wars spaceship preparing for flight. The largest opera house in Europe, it can accommodate an audience of up to 4000 in its four separate halls. While the house takes a breather for the summer, book now for the sensational fall season line-up that includes performances by Zubin Mehta and Placido Domingo. Rem Koolhaas: Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal Deftly defying traditions and skirting conventions, the world's mercurial maestro of modern architecture, Rem Koolhaas, has masterfully incorporated glass into his Casa da Musica design. Replacing two of the walls with reinforced, textured glass, light fills the rough-cut jewel box of the building during daytime performance, creating an otherworldly, sensorial experience for all within. From Laurie Anderson and Antibalas Afrobeat to Schumann symphonies performed by the National Orchestra of Porto, there is certainly something for everyone at this new hot cultural destination, if not simply the perfect cultural counterpoint to those late-night Caipirinha-filled evenings in nearby Lisbon.

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