The renovation of the main teaching building at Beijing Huiwen Middle School was kicked off in 2012. An important part of it was the concert hall, located on the ground floor of the front square. ZOMOZOMO was in charge of the interior design, which was based on the building structure.
With the aim of an “all-round education,” the school has high expectations for the concert hall’s design. The school’s Jinfan Choir has won numerous awards in various competitions in Beijing, and the school’s drama club and band often produce excellent performances. In addition, as an important meeting place for the school, the concert hall should be equipped with the functionality of a lecture hall. Thus, the design must conform to and meet the requirements for high-reverberation concerts and choral performances and be compatible with low-reverberation plays and meeting demands. In addition, an underground lecture hall has strict requirements for fire protection and evacuation, and balancing the lecture hall’s design with the safety requirements is also an important problem to be solved.
From an architectural design angle, the overall site form is more square-like, and the spatial conditions determined by the architectural structure creates major limitations on the stage layout. A curved stage is more compatible with the different forms of stages required to meet different needs. The seats facing the stage give the audience more visual angles of performances, and on-stage performers easily can become immersed in the audience’s attention. A series of concentric circles are drawn, centering on the relationship between the stage and the seat, and the geometric rules throughout the whole performance become the main order of the space.
The evacuation exit, located in the middle of the floor, stratifies the seats and forms a seating relationship between the front and the rear seats with decentration, while maintaining high evacuation efficiency and bringing a sense of hierarchy and scale to the concert hall. Concentric seats intersect the walls, creating vertical rhythms that also provide an opportunity to scatter sound waves from the stage and to set up stage lighting and sound.
We have also transformed the backstage creatively from a traditional enclosed space into a semi-open immersive stage. In this way, it can still serve as a backstage for large performances and also can double as a small theater or rehearsal hall for various clubs. Immersive dramas, musical plays, and themed class meetings can be held here. This design-based multifunctionality has created a practical platform for aesthetic school education.
The original concept of this design was inspired by a 2018 online project-based curriculum. After the completion of this course, designer Yu Chenfei decided to join the ZOMOZOMO team and work with his mentor Wang Simin on the conceptual design. Over the next two years, the team further developed the final design plan with the school and, with the support of the detailed design team, worked with the construction team to complete the project. The Acoustics Institute of Tsinghua University has been providing acoustic design and consultation since the early architectural schematic design phase. In order to meet the school’s acoustics requirements, we have given suggestions and guidance on aspects from the spatial form to the construction nodes.
Interestingly, in the subsequent design process, we discovered a valuable unbuilt drawing of Huiwen Hall. In the drawing, the curved seating arrangement and the stage design contrast with the present design, as if it were a dialogue across time and space. In May 2021, the concert hall of Beijing Huiwen Middle School was officially opened and became one of the school’s iconic spaces.