The hall with a sound like an instrument
Some people say a wooden building can never have decent acoustics. One place that has been proving them wrong since it opened in spring 2000 is the Lahti Symphony's home, Sibelius Hall. As far as we know, it is the only completely wooden concert hall in the world. Immediately after the first performance there, the critics praised it as the best in Finland and after the acoustics had been fine-tuned in the course of last year, Sibelius Hall was being talked of in Finland and elsewhere as one of Europe's finest concert halls.
The building's acoustics has been compared to the superb sound that the Birmingham Symphony Hall produces. Hardly surprising, given that the acoustics in both buildings are the work of one of the world's leading firms of designers, Artec Consultants of the USA. In Lahti the aim from the very beginning was to build a concern hall with acoustics as close to perfect as possible. First Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants drafted an acoustic plan, which the architects Kimmo Lintula and Hannu Tikka scrupulously observed.
The inner layer of the cube-shaped, 1,200-seat concert hall's outer wall is made of laminated veneer lumber elements, which are filled with sand. This gives them enough massiveness to reflect also low sounds.
The actual hall space is surrounded by echo chambers the height of the whole building. The 188 adjustable doors that open from them into the hall enable the echo interval to be regulated to produce acoustics matching anything of which even a cathedral can boast. The acoustics in the auditorium is also regulated with the aid of a wooden canopy above the orchestra; raising or lowering its height creates ideal conditions for various ensembles of instruments or vocal performances.
Forest Hall links the old and new parts of the building. The wooden columns soar to a height of over 13 metres.
Sibelius Hall is designed for concert and congress use. It consists of a century-old former joinery workshop, an auditorium for concerts and conferences and a congress wing, all of which are linked by the impressive Forest Hall. Forest Hall, which serves as the lobby to the auditorium and also as a banquet area, resembles a Finnish forest: nine enormous wooden pillars spread out into 'branch systems', which support the roof. A starry sky looking the same as it did at the moment of Sibelius' birth twinkles on the ceiling. The tall windows command a tranquil view of Lake Vesijärvi.