New auditorium for Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall
Monday, 27 June 2016
New auditorium for Glasgow's Royal Concert HallThe venue
UK - A new state-of-the-art, 600 seat auditorium at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall opened in October 2015 alongside the new Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) Centre. Both were designed by Glasgow City Council's in-house team of architects led by Kerr Robertson - also responsible for city projects such as the refurbishment of much lauded Glasgow City Halls - and world-renowned acoustic specialists ARUP.

The new auditorium at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall exhibits a number of design features implemented to optimise the acoustic qualities of the venue, for both rehearsal and performance situations. Fixed sound absorption is distributed throughout the hall, controlling excessive loudness whilst also reducing reverberance. The large scale (risers, ceiling and upper wall elements) and small scale (lower side walls) articulation throughout the hall scatters sound at different frequencies, providing an even sound and avoiding harsh reflections.

In rehearsal mode and full orchestral performance mode the side balconies fold up against the walls, realising the maximum available hall volume and floor space for the orchestra. For recitals the balconies are deployed, narrowing the room, providing desirable lateral sound reflections to listeners, increasing acoustical intimacy and clarity. They also increase theatricality and visual intimacy, with the audience wrapped around the performers, and can be used artistically for camera positions, video screens and surround sound loudspeakers.

Adjustable acoustic banners vary the sound absorption in the space, depending on the use and repertoire. Fully retracting the banners results in maximum reverberance (and loudness), ideal for chamber recitals. Partially deployed banners control the loudness, for instance in orchestral rehearsal situations, while retaining suitable reverberance. For amplified music a well-controlled acoustic is necessary, free from echoes, which is achieved by exposing the maximum banner area.

Overhead reflectors, also adjustable, provide useful reflections to support self and mutual hearing for musicians. Reflections from the ceiling - which needs to be high to provide the volume necessary for reverberance without excessive loudness - arrive too late and too weak for early support and timing. In addition to their benefit to the orchestra, the reflectors also provide useful reflections to the audience in performance mode. Their heights can be adjusted to suit the use/repertoire.

The RSNO Centre features new office premises, recording and workshop facilities. The RSNO also utilise the new auditorium as a rehearsal space and have already carried a number of acclaimed performances there.

Other artists, who have taken to the stage of the new auditorium since it opened, include acclaimed Glasgow songsmith James Grant, who performed in January 2016 as part of Celtic Connections festival, and pianist Maki Namekawa who gave a recital of all of Philip Glass's Etudes in November 2015.

(LSi Online)

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