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Sarajevo Concert Hall

Part 2 Project 2003
Anastassios Anagnostopoulos
William Boyd Fisher
University of Plymouth Plymouth UK

For Jacques Herzog (Herzog & de Meuron), architecture and fashion have quite a few things in common. Supporting this idea, he started an interview by saying, “contemporary fashion, music and art…are practices that shape our sensibilities”, and continues “ we are more interested in what people are wearing, what they like to wrap around their bodies, ….in the artificial skin which becomes so much of an intimate part of people”. For Herzog, “ the human body can be compared to a building, and everybody creates his or her own architecture, which then becomes part of the city”. Herzog’s ideas are fully expressed by his words “ clothes are a kind of link between the public and the private just like a house”.

Fashion is temporary, one can give it away or can change it whenever wants to change his or her public face. We cannot do this with buildings. Buildings last more, so they must capture desires, tastes and moments of a lifetime.

Sarajevo has been bombed, burned, destroyed. Its streets were flooded with tears and bloodshed. Mixture of debris, building materials and human flesh could be seen in several spots of Sarajevo during the last civil war. Before the last civil war, Sarajevo, a city with a longer than half a millennium urban history, was a multicultural city where Moslems, Serbs, Croats, and others whose ancestors came from various parts of the historic Austria-Hungarian empire were living in peace.

The newly independent state (temporarily a UN protectorate) of Bosnia & Herzegovina, which was established after the civil war with the help of the International Community, has as a main goal the re-establishment of the pre-existing multiculturalism. New public buildings, like the Sarajevo Concert - Hall as a healing and reconciliation vehicle should serve the idea of multiculturalism. Design’s healing and reconciliation approach is expressed through body injury healing and common effort reconciliation. Body healing is to be achieved by means of protective durable pop-fashion dress. The prefabricated imprint concrete slab has been chosen as such a dress. Historical and everyday life events chosen by artists of the three ethnic groups (Moslems, Serbs, Croats), will be used as imprints on concrete slab. These jointly selected imprints will serve the reconciliation and multicultural idea.

Blown spinnaker-like North and South facades, of the main hall, represent the three ethnic groups’ common journey to the future. The common reconciliation effort is achieved with the help of natural sources like solar energy (south facade), and daylight (north facade). Steel, glass and wood are the materials used at the north and south facades of the main hall.

Internal dressing of the main and secondary halls, where musical mental reconciliation will be mostly served, is chosen to give a warmth comfort and a sustainable approach. Ceilings and walls are covered by veneered wood on wood-fibre boards, which are made of wood pulp from trees harvested from sustainably managed forests. Parquet floor on concrete and lightly upholstered seats are chosen for minimum acoustic absorption purposes in the main and secondary halls.

Anastassios Anagnostopoulos
William Boyd Fisher


This student elected to engage with the city of Sarajevo for his final year design work with a view to rebuilding the city after the war. His work focussed on the civic sector of the city an area earlier used as the subject of an architectural competition. His approach rejected the direction proposed by the city planners in the competition and instead elected to develop the urban grain of the former city structure up to edges of his chosen site. Within this new context he then designed a pair of linked yet separate concert halls placed to open up routes to the river, whilst defining a range of new urban spaces.

The halls themselves adopt a relatively quiet almost minimal posture as a counterpoint to the parliament building on the adjacent site. However within the surface of the concrete cladding, the simplicity of the parti is fractured by a visual storyboard which permanently locks the story of the war into the fabric of the building.

A great deal of attention has been given to the materiality of the building and the surrounding landscape. The inhabitation of the building has been studied in terms of acoustic and sustainable technological issues at both strategic and detailed levels supported where appropriate by calculation.

Prof Robert Harbison
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