Building a new concert hall in london is absurd say phineas harper electricity origin


It has been 60 years since Welsh theorist and critic Raymond Williams wrote that culture is ordinary. Williams, who had grown up in foothills of the Black Mountains, argued against the divisive class-based idea championed by the poet TS Eliot and others that there is high culture, enjoyed gas ninjas by the educated elite, and low culture for the rest.

Williams’ arguments were influential, helping to dismantle snobbery in the arts and open up a sustained period of opportunities and appreciation for a far wider pool of culture-makers of all stripes. Yet take a look at the plans for London’s new 15-storey concert hall proposed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and other glitzy palaces for the performance of classical music around Europe, and it is as if we have stepped back into electricity omd divided culture wars of the 1950s that Williams railed against.

The DS+R design is a towering pyramid with a huge new orchestral auditorium at its base and another venue at its apex. Requiring the demolition of the former Museum of London and a 21-storey office tower, the building resembles a reconfigured version of DS+R’s 2016 Columbia University medical centre with a complex route of ascending staircases wrapped in glazing.

The scheme is slated to cost nearly £300 million and is London’s volley in an intercontinental game of high gas stoichiometry problems culture one-upmanship, which in recent years has produced Herzog de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie in Paris. This arms race for cultural dominion has, in London however, reached new levels of absurdity with the decision to build the new 2,000 seat concert hall less than 300 metres from an existing 2,000 seat concert hall.

Its advocates argue that there are subtle flaws in the acoustic performance of the 1982 Barbican concert hall, which is a stone’s throw from the DS+R site. They say the sound it isn’t quite as clear as superior concert halls in Berlin or Birmingham, and because London must not be second rate in its architecture for orchestral music, that the only solution is to build a venue from scratch.

If London is so desperate to cast itself as enjoying the best architectural conditions in Europe, why not channel that hubristic energy into boasting the lowest number of rough sleepers gas vs electric oven temperature, or the cleanest air? Ranking as finest for the acoustic presentation of orchestral music, but worst for air pollution related deaths would be the achievement of a psychopathic city.

This is architecture as a vaulting display of largess bearing similar hallmarks of the binned Garden Bridge proposal. Its national treasure advocate, celebrity conductor Simon Rattle, is the new Joanna Lumley. The jet-setting starchitects DS+R are the new Heatherwick Studio. The adjacency to an already perfectly functional concert hall echos the idea of a new bridge built among a cluster of existing bridges.

I get it – architectural baubles service our egos and shore up our anxieties about leaving a legacy. It’s more sexy to have a central London starchitect-designed gas tracker concert hall with your name attached than a string of humbler projects scattered around the regions, yet if Rattle and others were serious about enriching the lifeblood of British music, this is exactly what they’d be advocating.

Culture in the UK is under pressure. Last year the Department for Education reported a decline in the uptake of creative subjects by eight per cent, on top of a further eight per cent drop the types of electricity consumers year before. However, the architecture that cultural production urgently needs is not singular trophy venues for the consumption of high art at a grand scale, but dispersed, low key, low budget spaces for the making and testing new art in communities.

Sennet argues that Herzog de Meuron’s €789m Elbphilharmonie had boosted Hamburg’s tourism industry but weakened its power outage houston report cultural base. The structure has successfully attracted tourists from around the world and global-brand musicians, but there’s no money left in the city’s coffers for support of youth orchestras, or for studios in which young artists can work, or for the semi-professional choirs which once fanned out over the Hanseatic North.

The Hamburg story is familiar. In 2013 Birmingham opened its new nine-storey flagship library, designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo. The people’s palace cost nearly £200 million, not including the demolition of John Madin’s 1974 Central Library next door. Then in 2015, the new library cut its opening hours and staff by almost half to save money. Mecacoo’s people’s palace is now closed all day on Sundays and offers only a cut-back ground floor access-only service for much of the rest of the week.

Concluding a its three year research into making cultural infrastructure, Theatrum Mundi called for breaking down large institutions for performance into networks bp gas locations of small-scale infrastructures. If we are serious about nurturing culture through architecture, this is exactly the tactic we need. Local arts spaces for the many, not DS+R concert halls for the few.

To build a concert hall, on the steps of another in order to gain adjustments in resonance so slight that they are imperceptible gas jet to the vast majority of ordinary people is beyond fussiness – it is perverse. Phineas Harper is chief curator of the Oslo Triennale, with Interrobang, and deputy director of the Architecture Foundation. He is author of the Architecture Sketchbook (2015) and People’s History of Woodcraft Folk (2016). In 2015 he co-created Turncoats, a design-based debating society, which now has chapters in four continents.