Special projects

Auditorium Manzoni

The Manzoni theatre/cinema was built in the early 1930’s, designed to become a leading cinema and theatre venue with a seating capacity of over 1,600.

In addition to being a privileged venue for shows and exhibitions, the Manzoni Theater is an important cultural and social gathering center: thanks to its versatile structure, it offers itself as a prestigious conference location and a meeting point for the world of art, culture and politics , the economy, citizenship and businesses.

In recent years, the Manzoni has become a place where classical, ethnic, jazz and modern music come together and find an ideal place of representation in the prestigious setting of Bologna, awarded by UNESCO as the City of Music.

The building is in brick and iron with riveted beams by Officinie Calzoni and side balconies with parapets featuring elegant, curved trellis-like plastering. The project to transform the theatre focussed on a facility specifically for symphonic music, with occasional use as a congress venue. Considerable work was therefore necessary, to safeguard architectural constraints, as well as archaeological constraints (for below-ground levels) required by the Superintendence for Architectural and Archaeological Heritage, while also ensuring that appearance, functional and acoustic requirements were also met. The building also has a large and ingenious system to open the ceiling, in the middle of the auditorium, and the project wanted to retain and make the most of this feature. The idea of a “see-through” ceiling was therefore conceived, to reflect and diffuse sound, and which would have a specific round shape to enhance the “see-through” aspect in relation to the overlying part of the roof that would remain “mobile”. This has created a sort of diffused “chandelier” over most of the ceiling, which is the main lighting of the auditorium. The stage did not meet specifications, with a proscenium that was just 10 metres wide. It had to be redesigned so it would be at least 15 metres, while keeping the upper architrave with the original inscription “Manzoni”. The stage had toextend back at least 14 metres to accommodate the orchestra and choir members for Mahler’s symphonies and for other symphonies with 80 orchestra players. The entire stage was renovated, as it no longer met necessary acoustic requirements. In fact the new stage houses the mobile platform systems connected to the levels below for the piano and other instruments to go on stage automatically, directly from the basement.The technical areas and production room, with their own acoustic features, are located above the stage. The gallery seating is new, which was necessary in order to eliminate the pillars which supported the gallery and obstructed the view to the stalls below. The second basement houses the technical areas and instrument and equipment stores, while the first basement houses the foyer for the public to gain access from the entry-level floor with stairs and the new lift which can be used by persons with impaired physical mobility to reach the lower and upper floors. The dressing rooms and rooms for the production staff, orchestra and choir members, and related facilities, are also housed in the first basement. The ceiling feature of the foyer is the new structure for the heating and air conditioning system which serves each individual seat, with heat-regulated air conveyed at a very low rate through the central column of the seats. This avoids a concentration of air being conveyed through ducts, which is irritating and also noisy. The interior of the auditorium embodies the soft warmth of wood with beech wall panelling, parquet flooring and seating, blending in effortlessly with the light shades of the seats in red fabric and enhancing the ceiling with its restored decorations lending an overall air which is even more accentuated by the central patterned glass. The ceiling decorations are by Ruggero Frazzoni and are spray painted with colours featuring synthetic binders using silver, copper, gold in stunning iridescent hues.The restoration work, agreed with the Superintendence, has left the style intact, restoring parts which had deteriorated. The balconies in a near-white shade with hues of wood supporting the indirect lights placed below the mirror profile enlarge the ceiling, conferring a “light, suspended” feel. The acoustic chamber on the stage continues the wood panelling theme up to the ceiling, where the mobile elements ensure a versatility that is functional, with the introduction, where appropriate, of equipped battens, a projection screen and special effects for stage design. The projection cabin can be used to project pictures or translations for performances. Alongside the cabin, at the top of the gallery are the areas for the press, and simultaneous interpreting to use during conferences and meetings which can be scheduled. The auditorium with mainly a symphonic use requires fairly lengthy acoustic reverberation times: the sound must never abate too quickly, so the wood panelling is considerable (50 kg/m2), with a diffusing surface. The architecture and acoustics have been harmonised based on a study of mathematical simulation models and subsequent controls of all geometric components in the auditorium. The attention paid to the acoustics has focussed on the quality of the wood and glass surfaces, the possibility of changing the direction of the panels below the gallery, the soundproofing capacity of the walls at the back of the auditorium (comprising layered, perforated surfaces), and seats only with inner padding to ensure an acoustic response that is practically identical to that of an “auditorium with a full house”, also giving orchestra rehearsals a reliable means of control. At rehearsals, a reverberation time of 1.8 -1.9 seconds on average frequencies can be obtained -ideal for an auditorium of this size with a sound diffusion that is practically uniform. The design was also conceived for events with electroacoustic systems without too much power to avoid irritating echoes. The sound systems for “speaking” are ideal for meetings and conferences. The overall seating capacity of the venue is 1,234, including seats for persons with impaired physical mobility. Emergency, fire fighting and security systems have also been installed with equipment that is not visible externally as required for environmental constraints of a building with its mainfacades overlooking Via de’ Corighi / Via de’ Monari and original late Liberty style that can still be easily seen in its bosses, festoons and inscriptions

Hall capacity: 1228 seats
Conference room on the first floor capacity: up to 90 people
Foyer in the basement capacity: 200 people (bar available for light lunches and events)