A concert hall in Uppsala | icon 054 | December 2007

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words William Wiles

Uppsala has 100 choirs, but until now no concert hall. It took the Swedish town 25 years to summon the will to build the Concert and Congress Hall, now completed by Danish architect Henning Larsen after a competition that attracted more than 160 entries.

“The problem with Uppsala is that it is divided by a river,” says Mette Kynne Frandsen, managing director of Henning Larsen. The rich people, she says, live in the upper part, and the local authority wanted the concert hall to give the lower part of town something to be proud of. To connect the building to the historic centre of Uppsala, the hall foyer and cafe are on the top floor, which has dramatic views over the town’s castle, church and university.

With the main communal areas at the top of the eight-storey building, a spectacular two-flight escalator has been installed in the hall’s full-height atrium to draw
in passers-by from the expanded square outside. “It is a totally open room,” Frandsen says. “When the community wanted to create this hall, it was very important that
it should not only be open in the night for concerts, but a building which was for everyone in Uppsala.”

The exterior is clad in angled aluminium panels. “Our intention was to create a crystal,” Frandsen says. The motif is repeated, in wood, inside the 1,200-seat performance space, where the angling of the faceted surface directs the sounds of the orchestra towards the audience.

images Mikael Wallersted

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