The Bucheon Arts Center in Bucheon, South Korea has formally opened to the public.

The complex features a 1,450 seat symphonic concert hall, a 300 seat arts theatre and a large orchestral rehearsal space, and will be the home for the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra. The design is a collaboration between Arup and the Architectural firms of Haenglim and DMP.

Originally selected following an architectural design competition, the Arup team worked closely with the client and Seong Kyu Hong, who led the architectural design to design three key performance and rehearsal environments where the artist and audience's acoustic and theatrical experience reflect the culture and character of the city and nation while also supporting the broadest range of musical expression.

When designing the concert hall, the aim was to create a venue loved by its community, acting as a hub for the development of the next generation of musical ensembles, while also showcasing the uniqueness of the city.  The goal of the project was an environment that supports the big orchestral sound that the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra is known for, with a textured reverberance, a rich tone, and a sense of ‘order’ in the sound. Creating an intimate connection between the orchestra and audience, while respecting the importance of the boundaries without the feeling of a constrained ‘indoor’ environment were key considerations.

The sound identity of the Bucheon Arts Centre concert hall is a bespoke design by Arup’s performing arts specialists, and its sophisticated character is delivered using ‘coupled-volumes’, a first in Korea. For this hall, Arup designed six large motorised canopies that sit over the stage whose height can be altered as needed, with an array of smaller, height-adjustable sound reflectors that provides consistent support to the musicians and adds further sophistication to the sound. This system works in tandem with a system of motorised curtains and banners that can be deployed to cover part or all of the wall surfaces, and a motorised orchestral riser system to shape the performance environment.

Concert halls today need to work equally well not only for the wide range of repertoire of the modern symphony orchestra but also for recitals and chamber music to Jazz and more popular contemporary performance types. Creating a performance environment that responds to this entire range of repertoire is an important element of the design process. Using adjustable acoustic elements allows us to offer an environment that can be tailored to the specific characteristics of each type of performance, at the same time having a common thread of experiential identity unique to the hall.

Tateo Nakajima, Arup Fellow and Lead Designer said: “The opening of Bucheon Arts Center is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication of the city and design & construction teams. The combination of performance and rehearsal spaces in this facility, with the exciting programming that is already planned, will energise the cultural life of the city, attracting audiences from afar.

“The Bucheon concert hall will be the first of its kind in Korea, featuring a sophisticated acoustic environment that was designed by Arup specially for the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra and this community. We believe our collaboration with Seong Kyu Hong and the entire DMP and Haeglim team has delivered a space which will provide audiences and artists with a place for deeply memorable musical experiences, in a way that will be unique to Bucheon”.

Steve Yoon, Leader of Arup’s Seoul Office said: “The Bucheon Arts Center is a landmark venue for South Korea, offering more than a uniquely innovative concert hall; it is a modern beacon of culture, which will connect our artists with the next generation of musicians. Arup is proud to have been involved throughout the development of a project which will be culturally significant for generations to come.”

Henry Chan, Associate Director, Acoustics, Audio-Visual & Theatre Consulting, East Asia, Arup said: “As the newest concert hall in Asia, designed by Arup, The Bucheon Arts Center redefines the concept of acoustic perfection which sets new standard for musical performance and audience experience.”