A place of music, the Concert House embodies the affinity between architecture and music. It is also a paradigm for the Jean Nouvel programme: showing how the diverse components making up a construction interrelate and revealing the various planes on which architecture exists - what appears from the outside, what becomes apparent during the journey of discovery through a building, what is imagined and what real. All these aspects, real or perceived, help define a given architectural volume which, as changeable as itself, resonates like a musical instrument to each observer’s viewpoint and experience. Located in an unlovely peripheral suburban landscape of housing estates, commercial centres and office blocks, the building hosts a quality public service facility: the Danish Broadcasting Company’s offices, production and public concert halls. For Nouvel, the architectural solution demanded by such an amorphous setting was “a presence, a building, an identity” that would “give substance to the quarter”; in other words, an architecture on a higher plane than its neighbours, an exceptional urban landmark, the purveyor of a quality public service. The Concert House is based on complex parameters that explore the whole question of a building’s visual and material being and how reality and perception interweave. Nouvel talks of the “mystery” and “seduction” of an architectural programme able to step outside the various schools of thought that have shaped architecture down the ages. Although the external envelope lends the coloured parallelepiped a vapid, immaterial density, the Concert House stands as a solid focal point in an urban setting still in the make. An amalgam of materiality and transparency, the outer cladding appears as a fine gauze fabric, its “watermark” the lights and shapes of the internal glazed façade. Here technology takes on a figurative dimension. The wind-bracing set into the walls of the inner envelope stands out like decorative motifs. It generates architecture that reveals the varied and complex activities going on within, an enticing world inviting the outsider to enter and be part of a journey of discovery. The real yet shrouded universe visible through the outer perimeter changes with the changing daylight and artificial illumination at night. Similarly, from the inner covered plaza that is the foyer, the view onto the surrounding urban landscape is equally nuanced. This two-way interchange between the building and its surrounds takes on a further dimension: that of making the building not just a music facility but also an integral part of its urban landscape. The materials, colours and lighting are symbols of the city itself. Fair-face concrete walls put the building in the “housing project” category; their irregular graffiti finish, set in relief, underlines the building’s technological character; the staircases present as urban sculptures; strip lighting traces erratic geometrics on the ceiling; coloured panels line the interior walls while the signage underlines the multiple itineraries available through the building. The Concert House has four specialist “studios” or public performance halls: a large 1800-seat auditorium; a 550-seat hall for chamber music and small orchestras; a small 350-seat “rhythmic music” hall, and another 350-seat hall for choral music. In each, the architectural programme is geared to the different acoustic requirements. The main concert hall is a huge shell raised ten metres about ground level, its looming shape clearly visible from outside through the screen façade. Wood is everywhere, on the floor and wave-shaped walls. Set in the middle of the hall, the stage is surrounded by multi-level terraced seating. Nouvel describes it as a terraced “vineyard”. The main foyer lies under the belly of the auditorium, rising around it to provide access to the upper levels. The other halls are located below ground. The chamber music hall is rectangular, its floor and walls clad in light coloured panelling, the semicircular stage only slightly raised above floor level. On the walls, 39 black and white portraits of soloists, composers and other figures from the musical world have been transferred with special vector graphics onto the plywood panels. The “rhythmic music” hall is the most flexible of all the “studios”. There is no fixed stage or audience seating; public and musicians are all on the same level on the oak flooring. The environment is Spartan: the black walls in alternating polished and matte panelling of varying size are pierced here and there by unexpected light sources. The last, choral hall is another flexible environment, completely enveloped in red wall panelling. The ample offices, production and documentation functions of the Danish Broadcasting Company are located on the north side of the Concert House. They occupy 2700 sq m of the total 25000 sq m surface of the whole complex.