Louise Cotter, David Naessens
“The FREESPACE of time and memory, binding past, present and future together, building on inherited cultural layers, weaving the archaic with the contemporary.”
Salle Cortot is renowned for its superb acoustics and intimate space. The building presents a restrained and beautifully wrought frontispiece to the street, revealing little of the surprise of this extraordinary space, moulded of bronzed concrete and plywood. The acoustic environment is finely tuned and the means by which this is achieved – volume, proportion, articulation and layering of materials – is completely integrated in the building design. A highly tuned instrument for playing and listening, the Salle establishes a rapport between music and listener which is intimate and intense.
The plan is ingenious, a particular response to the constricted site but typologically derived from a rich tradition of assembly rooms – the Greek bouleuterion, the Teatro Olimpico and the Teatro Farnese. The essential experience of this archetypal space is the connection between the music and the audience. The music progresses in its notes, chords and harmonies over time, modified and tuned by the space and form of the building itself, but also by the seated members of the audience. With no seat more than 17 metres from the oval stage, the audience reduces reverberation, while the angles and curves of the enclosure diffract and reflect the sound. The particular character of the space has earned it the nickname l’armoire or wardrobe, one that in the words of Perret, “sings like a violin”.
We present Salle Cortot in the round, a scale model similar to those used in acoustic analysis, inside an armoire that hides the space and music within. The cabinet is intended to convey the particular architectural characteristics of the building, the scale and proportion of the space, its rich yet spartan materiality and its hidden quality, embedded in the city.
Carr Cotter & Naessens Architects