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JS Bach chamber music hall: 10 years ago

Created for the 2009 Manchester International Festival, the temporary JS Bach chamber music hall opened ten years ago today.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects to house solo performances of JS Bach’s works, a voluminous ribbon swirls within the room, carving out a spatial and visual response to the intricate relationships of Bach’s harmonies. The ribbon flows above the performer, cascades to the ground and envelops the audience to enhance the multiplicity of Bach’s work through the integration of formal and structural logic.

The ribbon consists of a translucent fabric membrane articulated by an internal steel structure suspended from the ceiling. The surface of the fabric shell undulates in a constant rhythm as it is stretched over its frame, varying between the highly tensioned skin on the exterior of the ribbon and the soft billowing effect of the same fabric on the interior of the ribbon. Clear acrylic acoustic panels suspended above the stage reflect and disperse the sound, while remaining visually imperceptible within the fabric membrane.

Following its 2009 performances in Manchester, the pavilion travelled to festivals in Amsterdam (2010) and Abu Dhabi (2011).

Video: violinist Alina Ibragimova’s at Manchester International Festival 2009

Photograph by Joel Chester Fildes