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JS Bach Chamber Music Hall

  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 2009 – 2009
  • Manchester International Festival
  • Built
  • 425m2

A unique chamber music hall specially designed to house solo performances of J S Bach works – enhancing the multiplicity of his music by using a single, continuous ribbon of fabric which continuously changes, stretches, compresses and moves around itself to cocoon both performers and audience within an intimate fluid space.

Commissioned to create a unique chamber music hall to house solo performance of J S Bach, we produced a design which Zaha Hadid believes: ‘enhances the multiplicity of Bach’s work through a coherent integration of formal and structural logic’.

Our design utilizes a single continuous ribbon of fabric which swirls around itself, continually stretching, compressing and moving through the containing space to cocoon both performers and audience within an intimate, fluid space.

In realizing our design a number of architectural challenges required resolution – most pertinently, scale, structure and acoustics – in order to retain the hall’s functional integrity. Once resolved, we were free to use the ribbon device to make circulatory and visual connections which constantly surprise and reveal new spaces. In situ it became both an ‘object floating in space’ and a place to ‘enter, inhabit and explore.’

The ribbon itself was made from translucent fabric membrane – capable of being compressed to the thickness of a handrail or stretched to enclose the full height of the hall. Whilst its surface undulated and changed rhythm constantly, the whole was articulated using an internal steel structure suspended from the ceiling.  Clear unobtrusive, acrylic acoustic panels were suspended above the stage to reflect and disperse sound; programmed lighting and dispersed musical recordings ‘animated’ the ribbon outside of performance times.

The whole installation was designed to be transportable and fit for reuse in other venues – offering a unique way to enhance acoustics while also defining a stage, intimate enclosure and passageways.


Zaha Hadid Architects


Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Design Team

Melodie Leung, Gerhild Orthacker


Sandy Brown Associates

Tensile Structural Engineer

Tony Hogg Design Ltd


Base Structures


Trapeze Plus Lycra


DBN Lighting Llimited