Extension of the Youth Music School: stories across
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Extension of the Youth Music School: stories across time and poetry

Miralles Tagliabue EMBT

Extension of the Youth Music School: stories across
By Francesco Pagliari -
The Hamburg Youth Music School teaches children and young adults, aged 6 to 25, just about all types of music, including pop, jazz, classical music, instruments, choral music, ethnic music and even aspects of performance. The original bids to build the new school were made in 1997 and the structure was completed in 2000, with distinct areas for teaching and administration. Perhaps the best way to describe the original creation by the EMBT (Enric Miralles, Benedetta Tagliabue) architectural practice is "poetic simplicity". A decade on from when the original work was completed, it became necessary to enlarge the school. The new 420-seater auditorium is one of the most visible structures. It is on the first floor of the building, allowing a seamless extension of the entrance foyer to create a large, tapered multi-purpose space under the auditorium. The presence of a platform/small stage means this foyer area can even be used for performances. The actual auditorium was inaugurated in September 2011 in a celebration of choral music by the school's students. It is located in an area between the existing buildings, flanking an L-shaped building from the original school that also marks the edge of the premises. The auditorium is designed to dialogue with the edifice built in 2000, which is based on a plan that uses a weave of concave and convex lines. The volumes of the 2000 building are supported by pilotis, glazed facades and steel structures, with a mix of cladding (metal panels, bricks, plastered sections). The auditorium is dedicated to Enric Miralles and the writing used on the trapezoidal entrance marquee, in a font typical of the EMBT practice, adds an element of graphic elegance. The building as a whole is perceived as an intricate overlapping of volumes, but it is also the basis for an architectural idea. Correlations are created among different elements that have the same purpose, but were designed at different times and in various stages. Yet, there are also variations - caused by time - in the different sequences of volumes. These correlations and variations can also be found in the use of colours, materials and even the spatial structures that form the extension. The rectangular marquee not only clearly identifies the entrance, but also fits well into the surroundings, inviting one into the complex, multi-faceted space. It provides a combination of elegance and durability in the choice of materials. Interrelations between shapes abound. The glass walls and those with metal panels are placed both perpendicularly and obliquely, but always following the curve that recalls the surrounding trees. The ground floor paving forms separate sections that bring change to the colour palette through nuances of red. The wooden furniture in the reception and wardrobe areas in the foyer follows the shape of the structure, but since the pieces are modular they allow the room to be reorganised, emphasising different elements. The foyer rises two stories, but the impact of this height is commensurate with the distended use of features and materials. The view from the foyer reaches both up to the sky and out to the music school built in 2000. Although you cannot see the upper foyer providing access to the music hall, you get a sense of it from the metallic weave of the parapet, which links up to the landings and corridors to the other building. Externally, the auditorium has two irregular drums, one supporting the other. The one is clad in zinc sheets, while the other has brickwork courses and plastered sections. The larger of the two - housing the music hall and galleries - is partially above the multi-purpose foyer, but also extends out further, supported by sizeable pillars. The use of stone paving provides a projection of the auditorium on the ground. The facade has a complex structure, using differing materials. The sections painted in soft colours effectively create a uniform background, although with differing heights. These interpolate with the brickwork courses, creating a partial dialogue with the structure from 2000. The formation of "waves" and highlights through the use of the colours of the bricks - from light beige to deep blue, but also including red and brown - creates an intense effect that is not unlike the use of decorative tiles. Light is attracted and reflected by spots and surfaces of differing brightness, turning the volume into something almost ethereal. The appeal of both the decoration and the architecture comes from combining ideas. For example, the construction simultaneously "dematerialises" and gives a perception of apparent depth to the auditorium walls, thus introducing an element of sensory doubt and adding another notion into the geometric distances used in the building. EMBT's design is filled with creative solutions. It manages to relate the new building to the previous school structures it created, while also adding in allusions to other designs. This opens up a debate about architecture being a living form, with doubts and certainties, and about how the core of buildings can be given continual, new leases of life over time through a poetic approach to the "unfinished".

Francesco Pagliari


Location: Hamburg, Germany
Client: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg. Behöre Für Schule und Berusfsildung (BSB)
Completion: 2011
Gross Floor Area: 1000 m2
Cost of Construction: 7.500.000 Euros
Architects: Miralles Tagliabue – EMBT
Principal Designer: Benedetta Tagliabue
Design Team: Karl Unglaub , Stefan Geenen, Verena Vogler, Max Gunst, Carmen
Fischer, Gabriele Rotelli, Shavleg Chichishvili, Davide Argenteri, Kataryna Golab
Works Management: WTM Engineers
Contractor: Billfinger+Berger
Acoustics: Beratungsbüro Für Bau- und Raumakustik, HCON, HILS Consult

Photo by: Alex Gaultier

Benedetta Tagliabue 
Benedetta Tagliabue was born in Milan and graduated from the University of Venice in 1989. In 1991 she joined Enric Miralles’ studio where she eventually became a partner. Her work includes a number of high profile buildings and projects in Barcelona: Diagonal Mar Park (1997-2002), Head Office Gas Natural (1999-2006) and the Market and quarter of Santa Caterina, Barcelona (1996-2005), Public Library at Palafolls, Barcelona (1997-2007), as well as projects across Europe, including the School of Music in Hamburg (1997-2000) and the City Hall in Utrecht (1996-2000). In 2012 she has taught at Graduate School of Design Harvard University. In 2010 she taught at Columbia University in New York and she has been workshop professor at TEC de Monterrey (Mexico), the School of Architecture in Venice (IUAV) and at École Speciale d’Architeture (ESA, Paris) besides being a lecturer nearly once a month in architectural forums all over the world. She has received the RIBA’s International Fellowship for her particular contribution as a non-UK architect she has made to architecture (2009) and an Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from Napier University (2004). She won the competition for the new design of Hafencity Harbor in Hamburg, Germany and for the Spanish Pavilion for Expo Shanghai 2010. Currently she is working on a museum for a Chinese Painter in Neijiang and the recently won project for the new Campus of Fudan University School of Management in Shanghai. Miralles Tagliabue EMBT has a main office in Barcelona and a branch in Shanghai, operating all over the world.

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