house of music overview image

Sou Fujimoto’s House of Music Enchants like the Works of Hungary’s Great Composers

The Budapest museum dedicated to music harmonizes a spatial medley for sonorous performances, engaging exhibitions, and education about Europe’s musical history.

Designed by Japanese Architect Sou Fujimoto and opened in January 2022, the House of Music, Hungary, is draped in glass and features an undulating, perforated roof that creates the feeling of being under a canopy of trees.  

The museum, which was recently awarded the MIPIM Special Jury Award was constructed as part of the Liget Budapest Project. An urban development pan, Liget Budapest encompasses the creation and renovation of several cultural institutions within the Hungarian capital’s central City Park.

“We were enchanted by the multitude of trees in the City Park and inspired by the space created by them. Whilst the thick and rich canopy covers and protects its surroundings, it also allows the sun’s rays to reach the ground,” says lead architect Sou Fujimoto.

The nearly 97,000-square-foot building provides event spaces on three levels. A feature spiral staircase leads through the museum’s floors like a clef connects the lines on sheet music.

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house of music entry way
The unique perforated roof of the House of Music extends beyond the building, creating an interface between the surrounding wooded park and the building.

“Above the ground level, the spiral stair is in steel, and in the basement, it’s like a concrete spring,” Bence Varga says about the composition hanging from the roof’s primary steel structure. Varga is a partner at M-Teampannon Architecture and Engineering, a local studio that consulted with Sou Fujimoto on the project.

The ground floor features two indoor concert halls and an open-air stage. The underground level accommodates exhibitions and a sound dome, while the top floor serves as an educational area.

small concert hall with glass walls
Angled glass walls in the concert rooms allow for a good acoustic experience while using a material not known for its acoustical properties.
interior lightwell
At the basement level, the perforations in the ceiling create light wells, adding to the forest canopy effect.

A glass curtain of 94 custom-manufactured panels, some reaching almost 39 feet in height, makes up the House’s transparent facade and accomplishes Fujimoto’s idea of ​​“continuing the natural environment”.

Glass, however, is a challenging material for acoustics, says Keiji Oguchi. He is the president of Nagata Acoustics, a company known for the acoustic design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, and the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg.

In the 320-seat-concert hall, Nagata and Sou Fujimoto navigated the challenge by creating a zigzag-shaped wall that allows incoming sound to reverberate and disperse from the glass indirectly, producing a homogeneous tone.

Inspired by the varying form of sound waves, Fujimoto created the building’s roof with changing depth and cut nearly 100 crater-like holes into the surface, which spans 262 feet in diameter. Trees slip through some of these openings, while others channel natural light into the building.

overview of house of music, perforated roof
An aerial view of the House of Music shows its integration into the surrounding park and its unique roof.
view of lobby, spiral stair in background
Over 30,000 decorative leaves are set in the building’s ceiling, another reminder of its forest setting. The steel staircase in the background continues to the basement level, where it is rendered in concrete.

A canopy of over 30,000 decorative tree leaves set in the suspended ceiling and secured in place by a steel structure made out of 1,000 honeycomb-shaped elements further enhances the feeling of being in nature. According to Varga, thin, anodized, pigmented aluminum layers were applied to a polyethylene core for the cladding.

Writing a new score for Budapest’s musical legacy, the composition of the Liget Budapest Project includes the House of Music, the Museum of Fine Arts (2018), the National Conservation and Storage Centre (2019) and the Olof Palme House (2019).

Opening in Spring 2022, the Museum of Ethnography, designed by Hungarian firm Napur Architect, will add another exciting note.  

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