Ludwig conducts on the big stage
Sound cave for puppets: the acoustic model for Jean Nouvel's Philharmonie de Paris

The alarm clock rings. Ludwig gets up, slides down the roof guttering to the street and runs straight to the Philharmonic. The audience is already sitting in their seats - this evening, there are more than 2,200 visitors. Ludwig makes for the stage, drops his bag and starts conducting. Concentric light and circular waves of sound spread out around his baton, permeating the hall and filling the entire room.

This animated film by Vincent Escrive and his team promises a sound event that we will only be able to comprehend entirely in the future. Ludwig is the name of the puppet who is already rehearsing conducting on the stage of the model of the new Paris Philharmonic. The building itself is being constructed according to the designs by Jean Nouvel at the Parc de La Villette and is scheduled for completion in 2012. Ludwig's pleasure in conducting has been reduced to a scale of 1:10- a sound cave for puppets and for the Japanese sound engineers at Nagata Acoustics, who are testing the concert hall's volume capacity. In order to avoid the environment exerting distorting effects on the measurements, the acoustic model is being filled with nitrogen for the measurements and sealed off.

Dramatically sweeping balcony balustrades, ceiling reflectors with crooked curves and an audience that has puppet-sized hats. The acoustic model of the concert hall reproduces all the details exactly. Produced at the workshop of Ackermann the carpenter in Wiesenbronn, Franconia, the scaled-down five-tonne models made of lacquered medium-density fiberboard was recently loaded onto trucks and taken to Paris. For transport, the four-meter construction was taken apart into 30 parts - a bold undertaking that was preceded by an audacious construction process. The model consists of a total of one thousand individual parts, each a one-off and made to measure over a period of some six months of planning and manufacturing. The Frankfurt-based specialist planners at One-to-one processed the architects' 3D data for the carpenter using several specially developed software programs and with a theoretical exactitude of one millionth of a millimeter. Something that was crucial to the planning of the model was to establish an interface between the architectural drawings and the software-controlled manufacturing process using CNC milling. In this way, it was possible for the carpenters at Ackermann to produce a model with individual parts that were warped in both senses of the word and produced on a five-axis milling machine accurate to one tenth of a millimeter.

The Philharmonic and its model, the architecture and model planning. In the case of concert halls that do not follow the classic shoebox principle acoustics planning plays an important role right from the design process stage. The reason: impressive sound caves such as the concert hall planned by Jean Nouvel involve many incalculable factors. Depending on the measurements for the sound volume, that can be demonstrated in the precision acoustic model with reliable data, the angle of the balcony balustrades needs to be adjusted or reflectors moved. Incidentally, for the carpenters at Ackermann both this kind of context and the act of producing complex acoustic models is nothing new. This family-run business is not only a supplier to carpenters and joiners, shop fitters and stand builders. This Franconian workshop has already proved its worth in manufacturing a complex acoustic model for the Elbe Philharmonic hall in Hamburg.

Text: Sandra Hofmeister

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