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Music to the Eyes: The World's Most Spectacular Concert Halls

Hamburg, Feb 06, 2014 - Be they home to opera, ballet or musicals, modern concert halls no longer just rely on outstanding performances: These days they also have remarkable architecture offering audiences a great show even before they have taken their seats. Working from the designs of renowned star architects, more and more concert halls are being built that stand out by virtue of their eye-catching shapes, colors and materials. Emporis (www.emporis.com), the international provider of building data, has now compiled a selection of the most spectacular concert halls to be found around the world.

One of the most recent examples of extraordinary concert structures is the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku. The white building's curved, wave-like shape makes it seem as if it has been "poured" into the landscape. It is not just since the start of the 21st century, though, that architects have been producing such spectacular designs: It has already been 50 years since Hans Scharoun designed an angular, tent-like concert hall in the shape of the Philharmonie in Berlin. Completed in 1963, the Philharmonie, which originally had an unadventurous ocher facade, was re-clad in the 1980s in golden yellow aluminum, turning it for good into an extravagant Berlin landmark.

Geometrical, angular forms can also be seen in the Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. While the former uses a combination of curving concrete slabs and pillars broken up by windows and openings of varying sizes, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has the appearance of curved metal plates piled into one other and which, some round and others sharp-cornered, make the design look like an outlandish fantasy on the part of the architect – and yet combine to create a harmonious effect overall.

A contrast to such pointed and angular visions can be found in Singapore, Beijing or even Gateshead, in the northeast of the UK: While Singapore's Esplanade Concert Hall, with its half-spherical shell, looks like a giant, scuttling bug, the Sage Gateshead appears more like a glass caterpillar. In the Chinese capital, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which is completely surrounded by water, is less reminiscent of an animal than of a stranded UFO.

There are further spectacular concert halls in the pipeline for the coming years, with the pack led by Hamburg's controversial Elbphilharmonie: The 110-meter-tall giant among concert halls is due to be finished in 2016 after nine years under construction. Direct comparisons demonstrate however that it is not unusual for concert halls to take a long time to build – the now world-famous Sydney Opera House took no fewer than 14 years to complete.

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