KKL Luzern Concert Hall

Lucerne, Switzerland | C.1998

Photo Credit: Dominik Gehl

The lily white partitions of this performance space are not walls—-but doors. Designed to control the sound of the concert hall depending on the musician or production, these hydraulic doors have more work to do than keeping patrons walled in. It’s small details like these that have elevated the city’s performance space to an international landmark for audiophiles and design fans alike. 

Located within Lucerne’s modern cultural center, the KKL (standing for Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern) is not the first of its kind in the historic Swiss city. A Culture and Convention Centre designed by Armin Meili in 1938 stood for over 40 years until city officials found the building to be no longer structurally sound. Seeing an opportunity for a new community space, a worldwide competition was launched to design the replacement for  the old center. 

French architects Jean Nouvel and Emmanuel Cattani would win first prize with a dramatic contemporary design overlooking the city’s picturesque lake. While it would take over ten years to realize the team’s design with the completion of the building in 1988, Lucerne’s famously medieval Old Town would gain an equally-visited modern attraction. 

While the new culture center holds a museum and multiple forums, it’s the main concert hall that’s most celebrated. With near-perfect acoustics (even the air system is controlled to create the feeling of complete silence), shapeshifting panels, and seating for 1,840 fortunate audience members, it’s not a hard place to tune out the world and immerse yourself in a bit of culture

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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