Walt Disney Concert hall

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1 Walt Disney Concert hall

2 space analysis

3 The Walt Disney concert hall is a dwelling place for music. Home to the Los Angeles philharmonic, the Walt Disney concert hall as a building was inspired by music and provides an adventurous and exciting experience to its audience. Through this building analysis we shall uncover the Walt Disney concert hall through concepts of space, form, body, technique and their relation to architectural theory. The Walt Disney concert hall is truly a cultural dwelling place for downtown Los Angeles and was created at a time when Los Angeles was defining various centre s such as the civic centre and the transportation nexus. The Walt Disney concert hall was to become a cultural symbol for the downtown area and in essence a gathering place for cultural events; take for example, its outdoor gardens and amphitheatre spaces. The amphitheatre located behind the concert hall is a space with a wall made out of limestone and shaped like a horse shoe, engulfing a six level tier of concrete bleachers (symphony, 125). Its roof is a steel arch covering for controlled acoustics. The amphitheatre as a space connects with the concert halls outdoor garden and overlooks the city; giving the space a great connection with its close surroundings and the greater urban context. Based on Heidegger s writings in building dwelling thinking, these spaces become dwelling places as they are activated through the act of gathering. The garden and amphitheatre are both great public spaces that pull people in for free cultural gatherings.(reffer to figure one). Furthermore, the notion of gathering is clearly articulated by Norberg Schulz in his essay the phenomenon of place, Schulz elaborates that gathering evidently depends on symbolization, and implies a transportation of meanings to one place, which thereby becomes an existential centre (Schulz, 420). Gathering, symbolization and visualization are aspects of the process of settling and dwelling; all of which happen at the Walt Disney concert hall. The concert hall in essence has become the visual symbol for the cultural centre of Los Angeles, where people gather to experience various cultural activities such as the philharmonic. In essence, it s a cultural dwelling place.

4 ampitheatre and out door garden showing spatial relationships of the garden to the ampitheatre and viewpoints outwards to the city figure one images and drawings

5 The concept of dwelling is concretized in Heidegger s essay Building dwelling thinking. Heidegger uses a bridge as an analogy to describe a dwelling place being created through the act of gathering. The bridge gathers and thereby uncovers its value as a symbol we want to emphasize that the landscape gets its value though the bridge. Before the meaning of the landscape was hidden and the building of the bridge brings it out into the open. Likewise, the downtown cultural centre is activated by virtue of the Walt Disney concert hall being there. The concert hall does this through, its public spaces such as the garden accessible from the second floor, baring exotic plant species such as Chinese pistache and Hong Kong orchid (symphony, 125) that serve to attract people and unravel an experience (creating a dwelling place). Thus, the Walt Disney concert hall is a symbol of the cultural centre of Los Angeles and without it the cultural centre would cease to exist. (refer to figure one). Upon taking a close look at the interior foyer of the Walt Disney concert hall, one can see that space is created out of a series of complex intersecting moves and planes. The stair tower in the main foyer consists of complex intersecting spaces extending in all directions. This concept of space is parallel to that of Theo Van Doesburg in Towards a plastic architecture, here the new architecture is seen as formless yet exactly defined. The Walt Disney concert hall is not a recognizable form; in essence its formless yet boasts exactly defined spaces. Furthermore, the foyer space is related to Van Doesburg s in that it is anti-cubic that is it does not attempt to fit all the functional spaces into a closed cube, but projects functional space cells ( as well as overhanging surfaces, balconies etc from the centre outward (Van Doesburg, 79). (Refer to figure 2).

6 main foyer spaces plan view form top showing foyer intersecting spaces formless yet carefully formed figure two images and drawings

7 Further more, The Walt Disney concert hall was designed from the inside out, taking into account what spaces were needed, and how do we make these spaces work? This strategy is closely related to Theo Van Doesburgs writings in that he encouraged the architect to eliminate all concepts of form (preconceived ideas), and to come up with fresh new ideas on architecture based on what spaces were needed. Gehry s approach was new and challenged existing architecture through the use of a deconstructivist approach. The entire building was designed from the inside out and was designed to bring people in. It was intended to very accessible to everyone, to feel casual, not pompous or overly formal (symphony, 77). The main performance hall (auditorium) and the Pre-concert lobby are the main interior spaces that were the start of the design; in these two spaces we can truly see the development of space through the use of a layered composition of curvilinear planes (symphony, 122). In the main auditorium, the composition of curvilinear planes flows in the roof and down the walls creating a poetic space. Clearly Gehry rejected the existing models of performance halls and spaces and sought to define a new concept of space. In addition, Gehry combines a strong focus on the functionality of the building and its social relevance to its inhabitants. During the design of the Walt Disney concert hall Frank Gehry closely associated with musicians helping him in understand their mind frame I tried to understand how they think of space, how they approach playing in different spaces, how they accommodate themselves to a space, and what they think about when they perform ( symphony, 78). This relationship of people to space is seen in the design of the auditorium seating; the auditorium space feels intimate and cozy, despite of its large size. The wooden curvilinear roof flows into the walls and then the seating. The space feels as if you were in the inside of an instrument. The importance of the experience in space is also reflected in situationist writings such as the naked city, in situationist space an environment was never neutral but affected people using the space in various ways. In essence situationist architecture was poetic creating a unique experience to the viewer, in the same way the Walt Disney concert hall does. (refer to figure three)

8 In addition, Gehry wanted the space to be a single- purpose hall that is inviting, open and accessible to the street; a space that creates a close connection between the musicians and the surrounding audience (symphony, 39). The space was designed to boast of acoustical excellence and audience intimacy (symphony, 39). Gehry rethought the existing concept of a concert hall and worked at creating elements that were new and exciting; keeping the traditional shape of the concert hall but creating drastic variations in the finishing and ordering of the space. To make the space intimate and connected Gehry removed the elite seating areas. The space feels as if one is wrapped or engulfed by the undulating planes that make up the surrounding walls and roof. Throughout the design, different elements of ordering space from the article means of correct training and Panopticism (by Foucault) can be seen; firstly we are able to understand that the performance hall is a controlled environment because of its observatory nature (the audience watching the orchestra). Through this ordering of space the audience s experiences in the auditorium are controlled. As they are changed by the space into orderly individuals that will experience what the space has designed for them. (refer to figure three). The spaces in the Walt Disney concert hall relate back to various notions of architectural theory, creating a harmonized space, and a building that emulates symphony.

9 main auditorium spatial relationships in the main auditoruim and the ordering of space. figure three images and drawings

10 works sited page Reyner Banham, space and power, in age of the masters, 1975, Theo Van Doesburg, towards a plastic Architcture, in U Conrdaas, ed, programs and manifestos on twentieth century architcture, 1970, M.Heidegger, Buiding Dwelling Thinking, in D.F. Krell ed. Martin Heidegger basic writtings, 1992, Tom McDonough, situationist space, in T.Mc Donough,ed Guy Deboard and the situationist international,2004, Henri Lefebre, from the productionof space, in K.M Hays ed architcture theory since 1968, M.Foucult means of correct training and panopticism in discipline and punish 1975, 25 pages. Mc Kay. P, Pilbrow. R, Walt Disney Concert hall the backstage story. 2003, theatre projects trust. Symphony: Frank Gehrys Walt Disney Concert hall, Gloria Gerace 2003.

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