In the Fall of 2008, an international design competition was held to redevelop the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland at its current Earlsfort Terrace location. The project objective was to provide three performance auditoria with the highest international standards of acoustics and architectural merit to meet the current and expanding market for musical performance and cultural events.

Kirkegaard was part of the Encore Public Private Consortium which included Babcock and Brown Ltd. (Financial), P.J. Hegarty (Contractors), 3XN Architects (Design Architects) and Charcoalblue (Theatre Planners). The Encore Consortium was one of two finalists to make the shortlist in the competition.

Encore’s proposal for the National Concert Hall consisted of three performance venues:

Hall 1

The program brief required the use of this venue as a classical concert hall designed for orchestral, choral, chamber, solo and organ performances. Our design incorporates the perfect balance between the classical “shoebox” and surround “vineyard” forms.

Working closely with the architectural team, we have artfully designed Hall 1 to provide the appropriate room volume, shaping and materiality suited for a world-class concert hall.

Hall 2

The well loved – well used 1865 Concert Hall holds a place in the hearts and minds of Dubliners as friendly familiar space that has united several generations of concert-goers. The re-design of Hall 2 will play a crucial role in the greater context of the National Concert Hall complex. While Hall 1 offers an exciting and engaging 21st century approach to concert-goers, Hall 2 will provide patrons with a familiar and classical concert hall experience.

Fundamentally, Hall 2 is a “sound” room with generous volume and appropriate proportions of a classical shoe-box room. The re-design of Hall 2 aimed to make corrections of the acoustic flaws in the space which includes increasing low frequency support and addressing the pervasive cross-room flutter echoes.

Hall 3

Potential users will queue to use this room. Hall 3 is the most approachable, welcoming, adaptable, and user- friendly space within the complex. Whether performer, patron, musician, educator, or community member, it will not be difficult to imagine events they would like to present here. Although designed to serve a wide range of internal activities including chamber music, solo recitals, orchestra rehearsals and recordings, dance, jazz, and less formal musical presentations, the room has much more to offer. Public gatherings and functions for corporations, seminars, weddings, theatre, and children’s opera might also be accommodated here. This is a space that can be transformed for nearly any activity. Every user of the space will claim it as his or her own.

The nature of Hall 3’s acoustic design begins with a quiet, well-scaled space that is both intimate in its dimensions and spacious in its aural palette. It is an intimate room for 400 persons with an acoustic ambiance that invites music-making. The sound will be warm and supportive. Voices and instruments will feel “connected” to the room, and performers will feel that they are playing the room more than playing their instruments.
Pin-drop clarity will balance with the acoustic warmth to invite exploration of rich sonorities, expanded dynamics, and subtle phrasing. This is a room that invites perfection and at the same time forgives imperfections with the gentle support it provides. It can be described as having “candle light acoustics,” yet it can also spin on a trumpet note in a jazz performance. The room should never lose the dynamic of laughter and applause or for that matter the collective hush that intensifies a performance experience.

The main entrance to the National Concert Hall complex will be through a grand entrance in the historic Butler Building. The three halls are linked via an organic foyer promoting flow and social interaction between the spaces.

The foyers move patrons between the halls and transitions from the urban environment of Earlsfort Terrace down to the tranquil secluded spaces of Iveagh Gardens.

External Links:

3XN Architects

3XN Video Presentation

Kirkegaard was invited by the Danish architectural firm 3XN to participate in a design competition for the National Concert Hall. The project was extensive, involving a number of other performance venues as well as social, educational, and artist support spaces. Our team opted to design an elegant and acoustically nuanced, vineyard-style concert hall for 2,000 patrons plus chorus. The competition design process was carefully scrutinized and our design succeeded in meeting all the challenges of the client's experts. In the end, the Irish economy cancelled the project and the client avoided having to choose between our design and one other competitor. We are certain our design would have won. The other team feels the same about theirs.

Project Details
Audiovisual Systems Design
Amber Infrastructure (Babcock and Brown Ltd.), Architect, London, England; P.J. Hegarty, Architect, Dublin, Ireland
3XN Architects, Design Architect, Copenhagen, Denmark
Charcoalblue, Theatre Consultant, London, England
2,000-seat concert hall