L’Aquila Paper Concert Hall / Shigeru Ban


L’Aquila Paper Concert Hall / Shigeru Ban

It’s been just over two years since the disastrous earthquake that destroyed major parts of L’Aquila. The city continues to rebuild, but a tenuous political situation combined with the sheer scope of the damage have so far made it difficult for a complete renaissance. But with continued attention from around the world and a fresh slate to start from, things are looking bright for the city’s future. And on the cultural front, L’Aquila has one more impressive new structure to add to its renewal.

The concert hall is a project of Japanese starchitect Shigeru Ban, whose ingenious paper projects have filled orders for the likes of Hermès and proven a brilliant solution to problems of temporary architecture. All are easily recyclable and cost-effective thanks to their relatively pedestrian and simple materials. Ban’s recent partition structures for the crowded shelters where thousands of earthquake victims in Japan continue to live have proven a success, and his work is a model for the transitional architecture often required in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Like Ban’s other projects of this type, the concert hall is structured around reinforced paper columns – cardboard, essentially. This one in particular is a sort of 21st century homage to the Romans, with its rectangular outer elevation and pitched roof looking vaguely like a marble columned monument. Within the outer structure there is a central, elliptical space with pretty spectacular acoustics (especially considering the walls are paper), with more than 200 seats. The structure can even be torn down and reconstructed elsewhere.

As a gesture from one earthquake-battered nation to another, the structure is a powerful symbol of solidarity and a new ray of hope for L’Aquila.

Tag Christof – Images courtesy Shigeru Ban