It is not often that architecture generates an undisputed positive reaction: in January 2013, more than 16,000 visitors attended the grand opening of Reutlingen's new Stadthalle designed by star architect Max Dudler. The mayor of Reutlingen, Barbara Bosch, described the space as a “jewel of contemporary architecture, with a clear design and timeless elegance that also meets high standards of acoustics.”
Dudler’s choice to use American cherry for the flooring and walls of the stalls, upper circles and rear gallery in both the concert auditorium and event hall creates an elegant look and high acoustic performance. Over 3,000m² of American cherry veneer was specified and installed by joinery specialists Örtel Innenausbau GmbH (Neumark, Saxony).
Moveable walls allow both spaces to be adapted for a range of events: congresses and presentations, balls, banquets or even trade fairs and exhibitions. The new “hall for all” is also available as a meeting room and rehearsal space. The Great Hall has room for up to 1,700 spectators; the Lesser Hall can hold 400. The walls of both rooms are lined with textured American cherry veneer, which is perfectly suited to the acoustics required for sophisticated concerts. This rich red-brown wood gives the event rooms a highly visual and tactile aesthetic.
Outstanding application characteristics
According to the joiners responsible for this project, American cherry has the perfect characteristics for veneer work. The wood was finished with a colourless coating which is a combination of natural oils and waxes and penetrates particularly deep into the wood, giving it a smooth, matt finish and highlighting its natural red-brown colour.
A subtle grain
American cherry is popular in interior design and construction because of its good working properties. In addition, cherry has a fine, even texture and a subtle but attractive grain pattern. In terms of look and overall aesthetics, Hans-Georg Gückel of Tischlerei Örtel values the wood's consistent colouring, which helped create a cohesive ambiance across the two auditoriums. The shade of the American cherry heartwood varies from vivid red to reddish brown and darkens when exposed to light.
According to David Venables, European Director of the American Hardwood Export Council, "The American hardwood forest resource is home to some of the world’s most significant volumes and best quality of cherry wood. The U.S. hardwood industry has a lot of experience of exporting solid lumber and veneer to markets worldwide. It is great to see a leading architect such as Max Dudler using this good-looking high quality hardwood to define the interior space of his latest project.”
The new Stadthalle is located in a traditional urban setting and situated next to Bürgerpark, a local public park. Max Dudler's architecture reflects the formal grid pattern of this area, making the building an integral part of the city centre, and one which will benefit all the surrounding districts in Württemberg. Max Dudler explained how the bronzed façade and the diptychal new structure make the hall a “defining characteristic of the city's silhouette.”
This outstanding new piece of architecture, which is devoted to cultural events and concerts, will boost Reutlingen’s reputation as Württemberg's centre for classical music; and more importantly for the local community, the Stadthalle will enhance the town's architectural and social presence.
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Photography credit: Stefan Müller