When I studied architecture at The Bartlett, UCL my favourite contemporary architect was always Frank O. Gehry. Ironically I don’t think an architect like Frank O. Gehry could ever come out of The Bartlett. Despite being a school allergic to the word ‘style’, sadly I think The Bartlett does have a ‘design language’ it encourages, and the likes of an artistic designer like Frank O. Gehry are far from it.
He always stood out to me as a highly sculptural architect, with a sense of fluidity and a play on materials that only Gaudi I think can be compared to, of all architects past and present.
I had never seen a Gehry design before – in the flesh. I was not at all disappointed. The swaying, flowering silver forms create an utmost harmonious compliment to the surrounding urban landscape, by framing, intercepting and juxtaposing the more angular architecture all around. At first all you see is this beautiful silver structure. It is only when you start to wonder closer that you realise the real genius in design. For me this is the way the glazed elevations are subtly tucked away. So of course the building internally is never short of floods of light in every space, but when on the outside you almost don’t notice the glass unless you wonder through the magical folding forms, and there enveloped within you’ll find the light wells, vertical and horizontal.
I had the pleasure of watching a Classical concert and enjoyed the voluptuous and sumptuous concert hall interior, internally wrapped in bulging forms of wooden ribbons, at times interweaving and overlapping. The Organ is marked as a climatic point in the space, as though wooden forms are bursting into song.
What more perfect way to frame a space whose purpose is to host musical events than through forms that are rhythmic components themselves. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is an architectural song and a sonic space all at once.