Finnish birch is an ideal solution for the interior of concert halls both in terms of acoustic and visual properties.
Koskisen delivered balcony elements and a plafond measuring 16 metres in diameter to a concert hall to be built in Katowice, Poland. The solutions were manufactured from BirchUp panels, which combine birch plywood and sawn birch. The customer’s choice for the concert hall’s material was largely based on the excellent acoustic properties and beautiful appearance of Finnish birch plywood.
The idea for the interior of the Katowice concert hall came about by chance, as good things often seem to do. Tomasz Konior, the designer of the Katowice concert hall and head architect of Konior Studio saw a small sailing boat made from Koskisen BirchUp panels, which gave him the idea to use it for the interior of the concert hall.
The plywood in BirchUp panels is placed so that the edge is visible, and solid birch lamellas can be placed in between the plywood strips. The structure provides for a visually appealing and dense surface, which also has superb acoustic properties.
The interior design project of the concert hall was launched with a product development phase, headed by Development Director Kari Koskinen and his team. Before making an offer, Koskisen had to make sure that the presented solution met the required standards. Hence, the product development phase included extensive testing and trials.
The concert hall to be completed in Katowice will be world class, with perfectly designed acoustics. The hall feature five galleries and 1,800 seats for classical music enthusiasts. The total area of the building is 19,978 m2, and the main auditorium occupy 2,000 m2. The acoustic properties, which meet the strictest standards set for concert halls, were designed by the internationally renowned Nagata Acoustics from Japan.
The City of Katowice commissioned the concert hall from a leading Polish construction company Warbud, which is part of the French VINCI Construction Group. Warbud SA specialises in demanding construction projects and is known for responsible operations and innovative solutions.
Each balcony of the main auditorium is unique. The manufacture of the balcony elements required care and precision from Koskisen. Upon completion each 32–38-mm piece of an element, manufactured from a large plywood panel, had a precisely predetermined location ready for it. Koskisen succeeded with flying colours, and putting the jigsaw together went off without a hitch.
“Each piece was labelled in the very first stage of machining in order to allow it to be tracked all the way to the construction site in Poland,” says Project Manager and Quality and Purchase Manager Anna-Maaret Roppola from Koskisen.
“We made extensive use of suppliers in the manufacture of the elements and managing the supplier network was key to the successful outcome,” she continues.
The enormous plafond on the ceiling of the main auditorium beautifully displays the varied surface of wood and its numerous tones.
“The plafond was definitely the most challenging part of the entire project. Typical of wood, its surface has a variety of different tones which are only accentuated after surface treatment. Matching the tones to each other in practice was fairly demanding,” says Roppola.
Koskisen made use of its expert organisation in the manufacture of the balconies and the plafond. The solutions were manufactured using the products of both the plywood mill and Koskisen Birch Products by combining them into BirchUp panels.
The first prototypes of the balcony elements were delivered in spring 2011, and the actual deliveries began at the end of 2013. The delivery is now complete, and the concert hall inaugurated in the autumn of 2014.
Koskisen’s delivery may only be a small proportion of the entire project, but it is a very visible part of the concert hall. The project provided Koskisen with a valuable lesson in production chain management, contract law and official requirements.
“As the project progressed, formalities between us and the customer declined, we moved onto a first-name basis and the handling of matters became more straightforward on both sides,” Roppola describes the atmosphere.
As a whole, the Katowice Concert Hall project is an ideal showcase for Finnish expertise in wood processing and professional project management. Koskisen now has the required capacity and skills to successfully deal with similar projects in the future.
You can find video of building the concert hall below: