Concert hall in the Correo Central, Buenos Aires/ARG

in News Projects

Bares Bares Bares Schnack & Becker Ferrari architects (B4FS) 


Sounding out the Limits of the Possible formTL developed the metal housing, substructure and cutting concept for the concert hall in the Correo Central in Buenos Aires.

Radolfzell, May 2016. Buenos Aires is regarded as the Paris of South America. The Argentinian capital owes this description to its villas and magnificent buildings constructed in the 19th and early 20th century and modelled on the French style. These also include the former central post office, the “Correo Central”. This elegant neo-Classical building is now a listed building. Along with representative and administrative spaces it also housed the entire distribution centre for Argentina as well as the telegraph office. With the technical and organisational changes in the postal service, whole fields of activity came to a halt in the 20th century. The city had to look for new possible uses for this splendid building.

Its location between the historic center and the revitalised port district of Puerto Madero predestined the building for cultural use. In 2005 an international competition was held for the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Centre with a concert hall, spaces for exhibitions and events as well as restaurants, which the Argentinian architects B4FS succeeded in winning with their sophisticated concept. They retained and restored the representative spaces and façades of the structure, whereas the core of the building’s interior and former working areas were removed in favour of a giant atrium. The supporting function of the walls and ceilings that were removed was taken over by a circumferential steel construction.

An impressive element in this atrium are spaces suspended from the ceiling which are encased in etched glass. Their particular materiality gives these cubes the impression of an art nouveau chandelier – especially when the glass is illuminated in colour, so varying the atmosphere within the space.

The architectural highlight within the atrium is the new concert hall: a shimmering blue, amorphous free form in the middle of the large inside area. The hall with a total of 1,950 seats is based on a rectangular floor plan with bulging sides and rounded corners. While the cross section has a similar shape, the space falls downwards longitudinally towards the orchestra. In colloquialism the concert hall is also known as the “Ballena Azul”, or “blue whale”, as from the outside the free form is reminiscent of the head of a whale. The reinforced concrete structure rests in part on colossal reinforced concrete columns while being suspended from three parts of the circumferential supporting steel structure. The whale owes its shimmering blue appearance to a coat of deep-blue paint on the surface of the concrete which is encased in a visually seamless metal mesh. The mesh is type Escale made by GKD Gebrüder Kufferath AG. For the structural development of the complex shell the company turned to the engineers from formTL. GKD and formTL had already worked successfully together on earlier projects, for example Planet M at EXPO 2000 and a school in Guangzhou in 2005. While the geometrical spherical shape of Planet M and the two rounded surfaces of the school were relatively easy to develop, the amorphous shape of the blue whale took construction engineers and manufacturers to the limits of the technically possible.

The substructure for the metal skin forms a corset consisting primarily of vertically arranged plated ribs which surround the reinforced concrete structure. Only on the under side the ribs run horizontally. The corset is attached to the concrete by means of steel spacers. Smaller spacers connect the rods of the metal mesh with the ribs. In close cooperation with GKD, the engineers from formTL designed the orientation of the ribs and the cutting pattern sections for the metal housing. A decisive factor for the shell was the course of spirals and rods in order to properly attach the mesh while at the same time creating a seamless appearance. From the unusual shape of the concert hall 74 mesh strips ranging from 5 to 337 m2 in size thus resulted which wrap around the volume. For reasons of transport the large strips were divided into smaller units so that the shell consists of a total of over 1,200 individual elements. With regard to logistics this also posed a great challenge on the construction site. In addition, the installation team had to adjust the mesh elements to several particularly difficult places on site. The result is impressive and creates a unique architectural experience for concert-goers.



State of Argentina


Bares Bares Bares Schnack &

Becker Ferrari architects (B4FS),
Buenos Aires/ARG

Structural and mesh planning


formTL ingenieure für tragwerk und leichtbau gmbh, Radolfzell/GER

Metal mesh

GKD Gebr. Kufferath AG, Düren/GER


Exterior pictures: GKD+formTL/Jackie Rios

Inerior pictures: Pepe Mateos

Rendering: Bares Bares Bares Schnack &

Becker Ferrari architects (B4FS),
Buenos Aires/ARG