ST CHRISTOPH AM ARLBERG
Lying at an altitude of 1,800m (5,906ft) above sea level in the
Tirol mountains in Austria, the concert hall in St Christoph am
Arlberg is the highest in Europe. Opened in 2015, the 200-seat
chamber music hall forms part of a 700m2 (7,535ft2) arts
complex nestled into the mountain side. Young artists had been
invited to residencies in Arlberg since 2008. The arts centre and
concert hall now provides dedicated spaces for artists and
musicians to work, exhibit and perform.
In collaboration with Kahle Acoustics, architect Jürgen
Kitzmüller created a flowing organic concert space. The
swooping ceiling of the subterranean hall follows the outer
form of the building, rising above ground to integrate a balcony.
As in Andermatt, windows at this level bring in daylight and
provide passers-by with a fascinating view into the concert hall.
Kahle Acoustics orientated the hall with the stage in the lower
part to maximise acoustical projection from the ceiling, thereby
also placing the audience in the tallest, most resonant volume.
Moreover, the oak bands of the side walls bend and fold to
create enveloping sound reflections.
“The alpine town of Arlberg has demonstrated that when it
comes to high-quality architecture, art and music, the saying
‘build it and they will come’ holds true,” says Eckhard Kahle.
54 AUDITORIA 2020 VOLUME ONE
Acoustics collaborated closely with Studio
Seilern to perfect the acoustics of the origami
interior. Every facet of the balcony fronts, walls
and ceiling has been optimised to direct sound
reflections both to the orchestra for musical
communication, as well as to the audience to
build acoustical presence, clarity, spaciousness
and a strong natural character. Hidden reflectors
in the stage and white suspended reflectors guide
the sound from the musicians to the audience,
enhancing musical projection.
From street level, the suspended reflectors
are seen as floating over an empty space, like a
sculpture in a glass box. Passers-by can see into
the concert hall, achieving Studio Seilern’s aim
of creating an active frontage to the pedestrian
street, rather than the typical closed-off box.
The final piece of the acoustical puzzle is the
Amadeus Active Acoustics system. Conceived
from day one as part of the acoustical solution,
the system uses a multitude of microphones and
loudspeakers, along with acoustical processing
technology, to generate subtle additional sound
reflections. “In the concert setting, these
Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, and other fine
shoebox halls,” says Kahle.
Working with both a physical scale model
and computer simulations of the hall, Kahle
Above: The swooping ceiling
of the chamber music hall at St
Christoph am Arlberg follows
the exterior form and its shape
is acoustically optimised