When buildings speak: Thessaloniki Concert Hall


What if buildings could speak? What would they tell us? ‘When buildings speak‘ explores some of the buildings in this city, and tells you more about them! In this post, I talk about the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki. This complex with two buildings adds an interesting presence to the waterfront of Thessaloniki. Let’s explore the thoughts behind the design of the buildings.

Approaching the Thessaloniki Concert Hall from the city centre

When coming towards the Concert Hall from the city centre, the thing that will first catch your eye is a big, red building made out of bricks. This building, M1, is the biggest of the two buildings that make up the Concert Hall and opened in 2000. It is a cultural centre with the capacity to host different events, like concerts, theatre, dance, expositions, and conferences.

The idea behind M1 was that it should be a landmark of the city, and this worked: the music hall catches your eye when you explore Thessaloniki’s waterfront. It intends to be in harmony with the history of the city, combining Byzantine elements with contemporary ones. The building has a main hall with 1400 seats, various offices, and many dressing rooms and rehearsal studios.

M2: the new building

The M2 building is smaller, more contemporary, and somewhat hidden. It is not visible from the city centre, and I saw it only when I walked around the M1 building. The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki designed the building in 2004, and it was finished in 2010 to make space for more events in the Concert Hall complex. Isozaki designed it to represent the opposite of the M1 building. The M1 building feels dense and solid, has an older style and has magnificent views on the city. In contrast, the M2 building has a very modern style, is transparent and very light because of the large amounts of glass.

The new Concert Hall

The M2 building represents a ship, which is why it has several terraces that represent ‘decks’. One of the decks has a beautiful view of the sea. Walls surround the other deck, on the other side of the building, so visitors cannot see the city. Again, this is to reinforce the contrast between the two buildings: M1 has a good view of the city, and from M2, the city is hidden, but the sea is visible.

Walking through the M2 building felt like being in an undiscovered space, because it is not visible from the city. I did not know of the building’s existence before I encountered it during Open House. The thoughts behind the building impressed me. The M1 and the M2 building seem to be in dialogue with one another, reflecting each other and showing a different perspective of the city. I hope that sometime during my time here in Thessaloniki, I will get the chance to attend an event in one of these magnificent structures.

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