With a Dash of Idealism:
Architect Peter Bäuml on the Aesthetics of Wood Design

Wood is a beautiful material, evoking emotional responses like warmth, comfort, and tranquillity. But safety measures acoustics, budget or other reasons can prevent architects from using it in their designs. 

What if we could give architects access to the emotional response of the wood aesthetic, while addressing practical challenges with the fast and easy installation of other Knauf Ceiling Solutions products?

For the architect of the beautiful TauberPhilharmonie Peter Bäuml, this has been made possible by a Knauf Design creation, and the latest addition to the collaborative line of Wood Design products by Knauf Ceiling Solutions.

With offices in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Beijing, HENN is an international firm specialised in creating tailored, individual solutions that answer building owners’ needs, and take the location’s surrounding into account, as well. Some of the firm’s many lighthouse projects are the Zalando headquarters in Berlin, an Innovation Centre for Merck in Darmstadt or the headquarters of software company Baramundi in Augsburg.

A partner and shareholder at HENN Peter Bäuml had a vast background in industrial construction and building office facilities when a very different project landed on his desk: the TauberPhilharmonie in Weikersheim.

A concert hall project for a small town in the middle of Germany, where instead of creatively integrating a variety of technical appliances as in former projects, he would have very different demands to meet.

A Question of Adequacy: Wood Aesthetics to Elevate the Concert Experience


The first demand came from the location.

“Weikersheim is located very beautifully” Bäuml explains, “I would even describe it as contemplative. The small town evolves from the historic city centre around the market square, and even has a little castle.”

So, for Bäuml, the tranquil location brought up a mix of conflicting interests. “We were asked to build a concert hall that had to integrate with that rural landscape, but to also create something that could live up to the expectations of a concert hall. We had to prevent going overboard — the result couldn’t look like an urban temple of the arts — but we also needed to create the right atmosphere for a concert hall.”

A subtle balance, that Bäuml and the Henn team had to get right. It was this quest for balance, or “adequacy” as Bäuml describes it, that informed the decision for the aesthetics of wood.

“We didn’t want the building to create a feeling of distance to the citizens. Wood had a high acceptance level” and, even more importantly, “felt adequate.”

At the same time, the look of wood would elevate the experience inside: “We wanted it to be as fine and significant as the resonating body of a violin — refined.”

Wood just works. 
It radiates warmth, liveliness,
and a haptic experience.

Peter Bäuml / Partner, HENN
Architect Peter Bäuml © HENN

“As architects,” Bäuml explains, “the atmosphere we’re looking for has to be produced conceptionally. In a concert hall, the atmosphere can be controlled by light and the use of different materials. In a setting like this, wood just works. It radiates warmth and it has a liveliness and a haptic quality to it” which plays a role in the way it’s perceived by the onlooker “even if you can’t touch it.”

The decision for wood felt right, but there was a conflicting requirement: for safety reasons, the materials should be fire resistant.

At the end of the day, says Bäuml, “this is a place of public assembly for up to 650 people. We just could not accept a fire risk.”

Sound Over Everything: Natural Aesthetics, but With the Right Vibrancy


And then there were the acoustics.

“One thing was clear from the start,” says Bäuml. “This project would be challenging because we had to get the sound right. We collaborated closely with an acoustician and had the specifications for the volume of the space and materials use created through simulations and calculations.”

However, the most deciding factor for Bäuml was “the demands on the surface, weight and mass of materials used. How do the boards oscillate, with which vibrancy? And at the same time, making sure we follow fire safety regulations.”

The solution for Bäuml and team came in the form of the DESIGNBOARD, a Knauf Design creation and the latest addition to the Knauf Ceiling Solutions Wood Design range.

It was the solution we were looking for: Now we could realise everything we wanted.

Peter Bäuml / Partner, HENN

Designed to be ready-to-use in all areas of high-quality interior design with very high creative requirements, it was a great fit for the TauberPhilharmonie project. As a non-combustible gypsum fibre board veneered in the works, DESIGNBOARD guaranteed optimal sound insulation, adhered to fire protection requirements, and delivered the aesthetics Bäuml and team wanted.

“It was the solution we were looking for, and we felt very lucky to have this product at our disposal. With this material, we could realise everything we wanted.”

Custom-Made, Adaptable and Easy to Install


For Bäuml, another big upside to using DESIGNBOARD panels was the customisation possibilities. “We opted for a very high level of pre-fabrication, as we had a rather complicated angular geometry in the concert hall,” Bäuml recalls. “Having these boards tailored to our measurements and delivered to the construction site ready for installation was a huge benefit.”

From there, the boards could be adapted even further, and very easily: “We wanted cut-outs for the speakers and downlights under the gallery, and all these small modifications could be done on-site, with standard tools.”

Well-Being, Furthered by Material Choice


Today, architect Bäuml is working on a big project in the health sector — and pulls inspiration from his experiences with the TauberPhilharmonie project and its biophilic design qualities.

An architect in the health sector, Bäuml is looking “to move beyond the idea of a hospital. There’s a lot of talk about ‘healing architecture’.”

Looking back at the TauberPhilharmonie, Bäuml recalls the use of “the wooden panelling and the choice for regional natural stone floors in the foyer, which extended to the outside of the building” and how, together with “a big glass façade to create a closeness to the rural landscape and the town of Weikersheim”, an “enormous architectural quality and naturalness” had been achieved — by means of material selection.

We can never stop asking the right questions,
to make the places we create better.
It needs a dash of idealism.

Peter Bäuml / Partner, HENN

Additionally, just like the concert hall, health architecture comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Wood for example, Bäuml explains, cannot be used in a big way “for hygienic reasons, as larger surfaces need to be easy to disinfect. But at the same time, that warmth and naturalness of wood is exactly what we want when building hospitals.”

A statement very much in line with Peter Bäuml’s sentiment and main professional principle, as the seasoned architect sees his work as one that should be guided by social responsibility.

“We create places where people live, work, spend their free time — or heal. We can never stop asking the right questions to improve our work, to make these places better and better. It needs a dash of idealism to approach your work like that.”

Discover HENN's take on TauberPhilharmonie, where wood design complements a premier music venue.

© Knauf Ceiling Solutions

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