Vincent Hanley visits Ireland's new National Concert Hall ahead of its official opening.
The National Concert Hall (NCH) opens on 9 September at the old University College Dublin (UCD) building at Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin.
The building has undergone major alterations to make it fit for purpose. Michael Doherty, Assistant Principal Architect at the Office of Public Works explains that to build a brand new acoustically perfect concert hall from scratch would have been an extremely expensive exercise. He also believes that no matter how much you spend, you are not always guaranteed perfection.
The chances are that you could build a new hall and it could be a complete flop.
When work began on the repurposing of the building, the roof had to be completely removed while at the same time protecting the decorative plasterwork inside the building. An acoustic consultant was employed to provide advice on achieving the best possible result. The aim was to retain as much of the existing classical structure and decorative plasterwork as possible. Balconies were constructed and perspex discs were installed on the ceiling to assist with acoustics.
Seating was also a major consideration in the design process with consideration given to the quantity of fabric and reflective surfaces. The empty seats assimilate the average person so that if the hall is partially empty, the acoustics remain the same. The seats in the balcony have higher backs to provide better sound reflections around the ears.
While the NCH is small by international standards, it seats just over twelve hundred people.
General Manager of the NCH Lindsay Armstrong outlines how the concert hall will be funded through a combination of state subsidy and box office revenue.
We want as many people to come and enjoy this hall as possible.
He believes that the fact that the state has invested in the building implies that it will contribute to running the concert hall. He is confident that the public will be willing to pay a bit more money to appreciate high quality entertainment in such surroundings. Commercial sponsorship of individual events which should enable the NCH to attract high calibre performers. Apart from music, Lindsay Armstrong sees potential for the hall to be used for conferences and seminars and that the building has a certain flexibility which could make it suitable for other purposes. However, he is clear that it is first and foremost a concert hall.
It is a concert hall designed primarily for classical music.
This episode of 'Summerhouse' was broadcast on 22 July 1981. The presenter is Vincent Hanley.