The Bridgewater Hall - Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, UK

Renton Howard Wood Levin
Rob Harris of Arup Acoustics designed the acoustics
Date Built
Lower Mosley Street
Manchester's world famous Hallé Orchestra performed for much of its history in the Free Tade Hall on Peter Street. The Hallé is Britain's longest established professional symphony orchestra. It was founded in Manchester by the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé in 1858 and it gave its first concert in the Free Trade Hall that year. The Hallé moved to the Bridgewater Hall in 1996.

In all the building is said to have cost £42 Million and is named after the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who commissioned the Bridgewater Canal which crosses Manchester. Ironically, the canal basin next to the hall is part of the Rochdale Canal. The public area next to the hall is called Barbarolli Square after Sir John Barbirolli, one of the Hallé's famous conductors.

The main auditorium sits on an earthquake-proof isolation system that insulates the foundation from the superstructure and serves to insulate the building from the vibration of passing traffic and the Metrolink trams. Inside is an auditorium that seats 2,400 that is dominated by an amazing organ which boasts 5,500 pipes and covers the rear wall. The Bridgewater Hall website describes the organ thus:

"The visual impact of the auditorium climaxes in the spectacular façade of the organ, an instrument more completely integrated into the architectural and spatial composition of the space than in any other hall yet built. This remarkable £1.2 million pipe organ was designed and built by Marcussen's, a Danish family-owned company, whose traditional working methods have scarcely changed since they were established in 1806. Every joint in the massive wooden carcass was cut by hammer and chisel, and the swell boxes and casework are as beautifully crafted as hand-made furniture.

Taking three years to design and build and eighteen weeks to voice - the process which ensures that the pipes in each rank speak with the same 'family accent' - The Bridgewater Hall organ is a major work of art and technology, More than 42 feet high and 45 feet wide, it weighs a mighty 22 tons. With 76 stops, a battery of Trompettes en Chamade, 5,500 pipes of tin and lead, copper and pine ranging in size from 2 inches to 32 feet in length (the largest weighs over 300 pounds) this splendid instrument is destined to become one of the great recital organs of northern Europe."

In the image below, shown here with the generous permission of Len Grant, you can see the ground preparation stage for the construction of the hall.

A huge, highly polished Touchstone stands close to the entrance doorway. It was created by the sculptor Kan Yasuda.