GLOBAL

The design of music

Acoustics reativity and collaboration in cultural venues.

The legendary Swedish acoustician Jan-Inge Gustafsson, senior consultant with Norconsult, joins us for a conversation about concert halls, collaborating with architects, and the creative process.

ACOUSTICIAN, JAN-INGE GUSTAFSSON

Engineering’s loss was acoustics’ gain, explains Jan-Inge Gustafsson, referring to his switch of subjects at university, “I soon realised engineering wasn’t enough for me. I played the clarinet since I was seven years old and I was also very technical. Thanks to my interest in music, the world of acoustics was accessible to me; without it I wouldn’t have had this career.”

He goes on to say that acoustic consultants work on many different aspects of optimising spaces for sound, from eliminating noises caused by ventilation systems to ensuring diners can hear each other in restaurants to making sure theatre actors are audible to their audiences. His particular specialism is concert hall acoustics. Projects Gustafsson has worked on with Gustafs include Malmö Live and the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Getting into the detail of developing the best acoustic performance, he explains that some concert halls, say a rock concert venue, are primarily for amplified music while others are for non-amplified orchestral work.

“Many are mixed use which means a lot of my work is about balancing acoustic requirements, which is where my years of experience come into play,” he explains.


Gustafsson’s aim in the world of concert halls is to please all of the music lovers all of the time. Maybe the majority won’t notice the minute differences in sound quality he says, adding, “There will always be someone who is able to critique and distinguish the intricacies of a venue’s acoustics.

And of course, the musicians and the conductors notice!” Those formative years practicing the clarinet and saxophone have, he says, helped him get into the mindset of a musician. The concert hall is, after all, their working environment and therefore must be somewhere they feel comfortable to create. A venue’s acoustics are critical in its reputation: its ability to attract the best performers as well as keeping audiences happy.

Acoustician Jan-Inge Gustafsson with a sopran saxophon at the inauguration of Malmö Live
Jan-Inge Gustafsson with the soprano saxophone at the pre-inauguration of Malmö Live. Photo: Carl Jonsson

As far as collaboration goes, “Ideally I get involved as soon as the architect’s pencil meets the paper!” he says. “Concert halls need to be shaped from the inside out. This is such an important concept for architects to understand.” Geometry plays a key part in optimum acoustic performance. “The width of the hall will affect how long it takes for the sound to reflect between the walls. We also need to consider natural reflection from the sides, making sure the sound reaches the audience from all directions.” In that instance, architect and acoustician may start discussing elements such as side balconies, as these help reflect and diffuse the sound waves.

With prominent Swedish practice Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor, Gustafsson and his team at Norconsult have been involved as early at the submission stage for various competitions.  “In a good collaboration, ideas are triggered by each other, which is the exciting bit. This is also how we develop our own specialisms: when we’re inspired to find new solutions and see things from a new perspective.” He says he relishes the challenge when he gets some resistance. “I provide the architect with the ‘rules’ to play by, and they give me a design problem back!”

Both the visual and acoustic experience go hand in hand but he concedes,

“perhaps the performer is slightly more important to me. Ultimately, they are carrying out the creative work. The interplay between the performers and the audience is very important too!”

The concert hall Royal Hall at Royal College of Music in Stockholm
The Royal Hall at Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
Malmö Live concert hall in Malmö, Sweden
View of Malmö Live Concert Hall, designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen.
RED PAINTED ASH

Always new challenges

Diving deeper into the projects Gustafsson has worked on, he says of Malmö Live, which completed in 2015 and is considered by many to be one of Sweden’s premier live music venue, “We collaborated closely with architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL), arriving at several solutions.” These included ‘Mondrian’ elements which were boxes inspired by the work of artist Piet Mondrian. Gustafsson calculated the exact dimensions that would give optimum sound to the range of international stars and local acts who play at the venue.  “Here I also influenced the decision on the wood finish – I felt that the original choice would have been too dark for the performers. In the end a beautiful natural oak finish [from Gustafs] was used.”

The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, which was inaugurated by King Carl Gustav XVI in early 2017, presented different challenges. “The main hall was a smaller space to work with, yet needed to accommodate a large orchestra.” To address this, Gustafsson collaborated closely with AIX Arkitekter from the competition submission stage, together opting for a design whereby the ceiling height was raised to increase the physical volume of the space.

At the same time acoustic elements were installed into the ceiling to create the correct acoustic balance for the various types of performances held at the venue. Unlike Malmö Live, there were no balconies to help with sound diffusion in this space. “We therefore had to create elements that would break up the sound waves at the sides of the auditorium.” he explains, and adds, “We had a great collaboration, the lead architect, Annika Askerblom, really understood where I was coming from and we could bounce ideas off each other.”

Summing up the importance of collaboration, he adds finally, “Working relationships like these are truly where creativity and innovation develops.”

Sign-up for future Stories
SIGN-UP
STORIES

Our latest news and views English

Underpinned by our Scandinavian design heritage, we bring you regular stories about architecture and interiors, exploring natural materials, acoustics, and the creation of safe and harmonious environments.

December-22 Design, Interview, Sustainability,
Villazero: A carbon neutral home

Mondo Arkitekter build Sweden’s first carbon neutral house.

November-22 Design, Interview,
Karen Haller on colour in interiors

Colour expert Karen Haller tells us how behavioural colour and design psychology can create harmonious interiors.

October-22 Acoustics, Product news, Sustainability,
Introducing Feltfon Linear

Gustafs introduces Feltfon Linear, a customisable linear felt solution which gives a soft, warmth to walls and ceilings.

May-22 Design, Interview, Sustainability,
Designing for longevity

Thomas Sandell on design with an enduring appeal.

May-22 Design, Project news,
Our guide to the top five interiors in ash

From courtrooms to concert halls. We list five favourite projects that use ash.

May-22 Design,
Geometric patterns in interiors

Shaping design from ancient times until today

May-22 Design,
Gustafs’ guide to wood species

The patterns and colours of our most popular veneers.

March-22 Interview, Project news, Wellbeing,
Biophilic School Design

How natural influences can improve learning environments

March-22 Interview, Wellbeing,
Andrew Waugh on building with wood

Architect Andrew Waugh talks about his appreciation of timber

March-22 Interview, Sustainability,
White Arkitekter’s Anna Graaf on material circularity

Anna Graaf’s three thoughts on circularity.

March-22 Sustainability, Wellbeing,
Benefits of biophilic design

Exploring biophilia in architecture and design.

February-22 Sustainability,
Modern manufacturing, the Scandinavian way

Sweden’s sustainable approach to building materials.

February-22 Design, Interview,
3XN’s centre for climate research and collaboration

Jan Ammundsen talks through Denmark’s gamechanging Klimatorium scheme

January-22 Acoustics,
An introduction to office acoustics

An overview of how material choices affect sound absorption in a workplace environment.

January-22 Design, Interview,
Less waste, more natural materials

Ola Jonsson C.F. Møller’s sustainable approach to materials

December-21 Acoustics, Design, Wellbeing,
An introduction to neurodiversity in design

We explore how workplace design can be adapted for people with neurodiverse conditions.

December-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
The design of accessible workplaces

A conversation with Daniel Rönnqvist, Architect and Accessibility Consultant at Gatun Arkitekter, about human-centered architecture and workplace design.

November-21 Design, Interview,
Three thoughts on building materials, with Jan Ammundsen

3XN’s Design Director explains the studio’s approach to material selection.

November-21 Design, Interview,
The importance of silent study spaces

Architect Colin Moses reflects on his key learnings from the University of Bedfordshire library project.

November-21 Design, Wellbeing,
Designing for mental wellbeing

Exploring how architects can create happy cities by designing for mental wellbeing.

November-21 Fire, Interview,
Wooden Ribs: New research in fire safety

Fire engineer Håvard Strøm Halvorsen examines interiors with wooden ribs.

October-21 Design, Interview,
Three reasons why I love wood

Property developer Folkhem’s Anna Ervast Öberg talks about her favourite material.

October-21 Acoustics, Interview,
Flexible learning environments

An interview with Graven’s Ross Hunter on designing multi-use education spaces.

October-21 Fire,
Three key points to know about fire safe wooden panels

The benefits of avoiding fire retardants, and other important points.

September-21 Acoustics, Wellbeing,
Does architecture affect blood pressure?

Workplaces designed with acoustics in mind can avoid noise and stress.

September-21 Acoustics, Design, Fire, Interview,
Associated Architects on University libraries

Joe Belcher lists his key learnings from The Davison Library, University of London.

August-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
Malmö Live, a community house on an international scale

We chat to Kristian Ahlmark of Schmidt Hammer Lassen about how this “city within a city” was designed for the local community.

August-21 Acoustics, Design,
The top 3 trends in Swedish school design

We examine how architects focus on daylight, acoustics and materials in educational facilities.

August-21 Acoustics,
Helping architects design spaces with great acoustics

Experiencing how buildings sound at the design stage: we look at a new research project of sound simulation software.

July-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
Spira Culture Centre

Gert Wingårdh talks ten years of the Spira Culture Centre.

June-21 Design, Wellbeing,
Harmony in the home

Wood and other natural materials boost wellbeing and harmony in the home.

June-21 Design, Interview,
Scandinavian design essence by Tengbom

Take a trip around Arlanda VIP Services as Mark Humphreys of Tengbom Arkiteker explains how it epitomises Scandinavian style.

June-21 Interview, Wellbeing,
A deeper dive into forest bathing

Jenny Lovebo of Linnaeus University answers three questions on the wellbeing effects of forests.

May-21 Wellbeing,
A wealth of wood at Hejmdal Cancer Patients House in Aarhus

The wooden interior of Hejmdal Cancer Patients House.

April-21 Design,
Line up for linear interiors

Exploring the trend for vertical wood panelling.

March-21 Acoustics, Interview,
The new campus of Stockholm’s Royal College of Music

Architect Annika Askerblom of AIX explains how interior design and acoustic excellence were combined to create stunning performances spaces.

February-21 Acoustics, Wellbeing,
Optimising room acoustics to improve wellbeing

We explore how reducing noise and creating harmonious sound environments can improve wellbeing.

February-21 Sustainability, Wellbeing,
Forest bathing

Why forest bathing is here to save your social life: exploring how woodland walks have become the new way of socialising.

February-21 Acoustics,
Sound in digital meetings

Want to get the best out of your digital and hybrid meetings? Get your acoustics right.

February-21 Acoustics, Interview,
The design of music

The legendary Swedish acoustician Jan-Inge Gustafsson joins us for a conversation about concert halls, collaborating with architects, and the creative process.

January-21 Fire, Interview,
Fire Safety in Wooden Interiors

We ask fire consultant Anders Bach Vestergaard of COWI consulting to answer three questions about the creation of safe, beautiful and design-led wooden interiors.

November-20 Wellbeing,
Sloyd – The Next Scandinavian Export?

In this article we explore the Scandinavian culture of educational sloyd, and its potential to inspire future generations of wood-centric designers.

June-21 Gustafs' history, Interview,
Renovating the Riksdag

The interior details that transformed the Chamber in the Swedish parliament.

March-21 Articles, Gustafs' history,
The Origins of Gustafs

The story of our heritage: from a forest in rural Sweden, based on traditions of carpentry and craftsmanship, to world-leading wood panel systems.

November-20 Articles, Gustafs' history,
A Colourful Collaboration

Recalling the challenges and joys of making a spectacular acoustic solution happen – from design to installation.

November-20 Articles, Gustafs' history,
Innovative Solutions in Doha

Recalling the challenges and joys of making a spectacular acoustic solution happen – from design to installation.

November-20 Articles, Wellbeing,
Fighting Stress With Wooden Interiors

Wood is nature’s original stress-reliever, and studies have proven that its use in the built environment can greatly improve our wellbeing.

November-20 Articles, Wellbeing,
The Collaborative Office

We talk to Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor on the future of offices and the shifting role of workspaces.

May-21 Product news,
Introducing Lamellow+

Introducing Lamellow+ from Gustafs, a beautiful combination of felt and wood for indoor public spaces with natural fire safety properties.

May-20 Awards, Product news,
Cisco’s Webex Room Panorama Awarded Red Dot: Best of the Best

Gustaf’s collaboration with Cisco has resulted in a fantastic conference solution that has been awarded with Red Dot: Best of the best

May-20 Product news,
New Narrow RIB Dimensions For Creative Installations

We have developed a new design for our timber slats. A narrower model is now available for walls and ceilings.

February-20 Product news,
Lund District Court Featured Under Best Applied Products on ArchDaily

The project Lund’s district court is featured on Archdaily – Building of the year award. The project is featured under Best applied products.

January-20 Acoustics, Product news,
New Gpod at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2020

Once again we have a new product to present at the Stockholm furniture fair – come and experience our new meeting pod.

May-19 Fire, Product news,
New Stripe-XL With Dark Core Achieves Unique Fire Classification A2-s1,d0

Architect Arata Isozaki has been awarded the pritker prize. One of his projects is QNCC, which consists largely of Gustaf’s interior panels

March-19 Project news,
QNCC Among the Pritzker Prize Winner’s Project

Architect Arata Isozaki has been awarded the pritker prize. One of his projects is QNCC, which consists largely of Gustaf’s interior panels

February-19 Acoustics, Product news,
An Office Meeting Pod with a Modern Design – Gustafs Acoustic Gpod

Gustafs Gpod is our new Office meeting pod, designed for both meetings but also as an exclusive wooden furniture with perfect acoustics.

January-19 Product news,
Product Launch at Stockholm Furniture Fair

During the Stockholm Furniture Fair we will be launching a brand new product – we’re redefining the workplace, again

December-18 Product news,
Introducing Gustafs D-Line Spot

We continue to develop our product range. It is now possible to install spotlights as D-Line, we introduce Gustafs D-Line Spot

October-18 Project news,
DTU Building 202 Awarded Detail Inside Special Prize 2018

Once again DTU Building 202 has been awarded for it’s design. This time the prestigious Detail Inside Special Prize.

September-18 Product news,
Introducing Linear RIB-S – A New Linear RIB Design

Introducing Linear RIB-S design. a new design with sharper edges that give the increased feel of a solid wooden rib.

August-18 Product news,
Gustafs D-Line – A new linear LED lighting for our Linear System

Gustafs D-Line is our new integrated LED lighting system, fully compatibel with our Linear System – LED lighting for wall and ceilings.

June-18 Awards, Project news,
Library Project Receives RIBA Award

Bedfordshire library project has been awarded the RIBA East Award 2018. We are delighted to have been part of this project.

July-17 Project news,
DTU Building 202 Awarded Carpentry Prize 2017

The stunning project DTU building 202 has been awarded the Carpentry Prize 2017. We are proud to have delivered our panels to the project.

June-17 Project news,
European Healthcare Design Award 2017

The Brunel Building of Southmead Hospital has been awarded European Healthcare Design 2017. Gustafs and LSA have produced and supplied panels to the project.

May-17 Project news,
New Library at University of Bedfordshire

Gustafs together with LSA have produced and supplied slatted wood panels to this new library at Bedfordshire University.

April-17 Project news,
Royal College of Music nominated for the building of the year

The Royal College of Music in Stockholm is one of ten projects nominated for Stockholm Building of the Year.

February-16 Acoustics, Project news,
Gustafs Panels at Royal College of Music in Stockholm

Gustafs are producing interior acoustic wood panels for all music venues at the new royal college of music in Stockholm.

December-15 Project news,
Gustafs Awarded for the environmental work at NKS

Gustafs have been awarded by the contractor Skanske for our environmental work at the project site NKS, we are truly glad!

November-14 Project news,
Emporia, årets BREEAM-byggnad

Gustafs have contributed with interior wall panels in laminate and wood surfaces to the BREEAM Building of the year project.

October-14 Product news,
Dark Core Fibre Gypsum

Our brand new dark fibre gypsum core can be used to hide the perforations in a better way, using dark veneered wood panels.

October-14 Acoustics, Project news,
Gustafs win Malmö Live contract

Gustafs have won the Malmö Live contract and will produce and install interior wall and ceiling panels for this spectacular venue.

December-13 Project news,
First project in China

We’re happy to announce Gustafs’ first ever project in China. We have produced and supplied this auditorium with wood panels.

July-13 Gustafs' history,
Gustafs Scandinavia celebrates 100 years

This summer Gustafs celebrated 100 years as a business, with the start of Andreas Tunander acquired the business back in 1913.

May-13 Project news,
The New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburgh

Together with our Russian supplier, Gustafs has manufactured and delivered fireproof wooden panels for this historic building.

January-13 Product news,
Introducing Gustafs Linear System

Gustafs Linear System is our brand new cladding system with linear design, utilizing real wood veneer and a Quick-Up installation system.

November-12 Fire, Product news,
Gustafs wooden panels with A2-s1,d0

Gustafs’ wood panels are now certified with fire classification A2-s1,d0 according to the European fire class.

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.