Wood in architecture
Pannonhalma || Hungary
After completing John Pawson’s restoration of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Benedictine community has finished another project with Robert Gutowski Architects. International artistic events organized by the Hungarian monks and the need for strengthening pilgrim tourism set out new tasks in the community. There has long been the idea that a recital hall should be available for visitors. With the handover of a new basketball hall completed in 2014, the use of the school’s former gymnasium ended.
The former room is closely related to the main entrance of the Abbey buildings but is also rather distinctive and has its own entrance; therefore, it seemed to be an ideal place for the design of a new recital hall.
The space is suitable for holding small‑scale chamber music concerts. The high ceiling required for chamber music was accomplished by deepening the former gymnasium.
Optimal reverberation time of the space is mainly determined by the volume, shape, and proportions of the hall. Based on control measurements, frequency‑dependent reverberation time in the reconstructed hall is extremely constant in the entire audible range, and the type of decay is ideal. Moreover, an important element of the hall’s excellent sounding is the high diffusivity of the space, guaranteed by the uniquely designed ash wood paneling. Constant sound energy supply is also supported by a banded beech ceiling, broken design of the sidewalls, optimization of reflective, diffuser, and sound absorbing surfaces, built‑in membrane surfaces, and carefully designed seats.
The unique layer composition of the stage serves for the harmonic acoustical environment of performing artists. The floors are made of oak. Technical facilities, professional lighting, sound, and audiovisual systems, and a digital cinema add further opportunities to the use of the hall, and the temperable environment in the summer as well the 268 unique seats provide adequate comfort. Around the stage, an additional 132 seats were constructed.
Both the Abbey and the school as well as the designers paid special attention to match the new function to the existing buildings. Wood paneling made in a sophisticated and detailed manner creates friendly and likeable spaces. Natural light also plays an important role. The south‑oriented, lamellae‑filtered light is further dimmable with the off-white light‑transmitting shades. The medieval wall fragment found during the deepening of the hall is visible through a floor-viewing window. The hall, which was previously used as a table tennis room and gym, gained a new meaning: it became the elegant forefront of the new function. The school is planning to make an exhibition space on the hall’s gallery, and the former gym showers will function as instrumental training rooms, backstage, and a studio forming a unit with the new cultural function. After the handover in late spring of 2016, the school students and guests as well as the audience and musicians of the Arcus Temporum contemporary music festival were pleased to take possession of the hall.
Location: Pannonhalma, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hungary
Client: Pannonhalma Archabbey
Gross Floor Area: 500 m2
Costs of Construction: 1,2 m Euros
Architects: Robert Gutowski Architects
Design Team: Dely-Steindl Barnabás, Kovács Hunor László, Bollók Gáspár, Rabb Péter, Mizser Csongor, Ujfalussy Domonkos
Project Management: Rábai László, Szalai Olga, Beck Sándor, Barcza István, Pálffy-Józsa Kristóf
Contractor: Merkbau, Pápai Asztalos, Interton Group, Krüllung
Coordinator and Supervisor: Gerzsenyi Albert
Acoustics: Borsiné Arató Éva, Borsi Gergely, Pintér János
Construction Experts: Horváth Sándor, Tombi Gergely
Structural: dr. Armuth Miklós, dr. Hegyi Dezső, Kiss Benedek, Gász Kata, dr. Móczár Balázs
Services Engineering: Lakner László, Kolb Dóra, Mikus Ferenc, Balogh Richárd
Archeology: László Csaba, Nagy Andrea, Hargitai András
Soffits: Pollmeier Massivholz
Walls: Pápai Asztalos
Photography: © Bujnovszky Tamás