Frederic Schwartz Architects


Katowice, Poland

Polish National Concert Hall

A New Space for New (and Old) Music

Our goal was to provide a world-class design to create one of the finest symphony halls in the world as well as an internationally recognized architectural landmark. The stainless steel curves of its exterior and the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main hall will give people a new sense of the pleasures of music in public space. From a programmatic point of view, it is one of the most important spaces in a city with ambitions to become a center of international concerts and congresses, and a fitting venue to host important festivals and competitions, such as the G. Fitelberg Contest of Conductors.

Our approach for the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s new home is marked by the possibilities of architecture using new computer-aided technologies to acoustically model the symphony hall and the architectural form of the building. The symphony hall was conceived as a totality – an interaction of art, light, materials and space – a place that offers (and creates) new perspectives to experience music. The openness and transparency welcomes visitors, and the spaciousness of the great entry foyer and its direct access to the restaurant promotes leisure after concerts. In the broadest sense, the design serves as a lively public house of culture.

The highly functional design promotes organizational clarity for the support spaces. Both the exterior and interior confidently promote the beauty and unexpected lightness of architecture. Contrasting materials (glass and stainless steel on the exterior and wood interior) are juxtaposed to identify the opaque and transparent parts of the program. The design offers a dynamic interaction between inside and outside, transparence and opacity, lightness and weight.

Conceived as a dramatic, central free-flowing space, the main entry foyer promotes circulation and movement and mediates between the outside world and the symphony hall proper. It is architecture for the movement of people who will be transported by music. Entirely clad in wood the 1,800 seat symphony hall recalls the warm surfaces of a violin. The seats rise from front to back of the room and above adjustable panels billow from the ceiling.

The sculptural form of the building’s exterior derives primarily from the shape of the spaces inside. In a plastic sense, it takes architecture beyond its limits as a good conductor would do with a score. For example, the curving stainless-steel front facade is a direct reflection of the Chamber Music Hall within. While the glass curtain wall of the rear facade translates the efficient rectilinear organization of the support spaces that require and enjoy natural light.

The building is raised on a landscaped podium rising 5 meters and buffered from the surrounding streets by groves of trees. From inside the building there will be stunning views from the foyers of the lower and upper balcony levels framed by the dramatic exterior stainless steel walls and through the great window curtain wall of the main facade.

Polish National Concert Hall

Polish National Concert Hall

Polish National Concert Hall

Polish National Concert Hall


Polish National Concert Hall







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