KKL Luzern, Concert Hall

Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern
Europaplatz 1
CH-6005 Luzern

Just to wander through the wine-red walkways in the brightly lit concert hall, with its reliefs of gleaming white plaster, rich woodwork, and starry, night-blue ceiling is to find yourself transported into a mood for celebration. The concert hall — the “Salle blanche” of the KKL Luzern — which was designed by the French star architect Jean Nouvel, casts its spell over audiences even before the first notes have been sounded.

Serving as models for the acoustics were such famous concert halls as those of Vienna, Amsterdam, and Boston. With a feeling for geometry, forward-looking thinkers in the 19th century had already come to realize what really matters: the sound is best when the concert hall is shaped like a shoebox. The American acoustician Russell Johnson emphasized this even more: from the beginning he understood that a modern concert hall needs to be acoustically variable, that Bach and Bruckner require different sonic environments. The acoustic canopy over the stage, a total of 50 heavy echo chamber structures weighing up to eight tons, plaster reliefs, and all of the materials that are used help to implement the highest level of acoustical quality. Along with double doors that swallow noise and a ventilation system that operates well below the threshold of audibility, Russell Johnson established a foundation for what any good acoustical environment requires: the sort of absolute quiet in which sounds are allowed to resound in all their dynamic range – from the gentlest pianissimo to the mightiest fortissimo.