8 nightclubs in which to bring architects to dance

A brief review of some of the most extravagant clubs designed in recent years around the world, worth a visit only for music

Courtesy Chiara Carpenter e Giovanna Silva

Which are the most beautiful discos in the world?

On the occasion of the exhibition Night Fever hosted by the Vitra Design Museum - dedicated to the historical exploration of the night world through architecture, cinema, photography, graphics and fashion - we tried to understand if the hit parade of the most beautiful discos in the world featured only radical architectures from the 60s and 70s or if also nowadays clubs have something to say.

Back in the 1960s discos were seen as both experimental labs for architects and temples of collectiveness and multidisciplinarity. But the increase in the number of security regulations, combined with the rise of the internet and of rave parties have progressively gotten rid of experimentation. Thus leading to the closing down of many clubs and to a general reassessment of nocturnal venues’ tangible boundaries and relevance. There is even who affirms that this could be the end of discotheques.

Nevertheless, judging by what we found, it seems that the adventure of nightclubs is far from being over. Here is a selection of the most beautiful discos where to bring your architect friends for a night out.

Opening Photo: Altromondo Studios, Rimini. Photo from the series Nightswimming, 2014.

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Courtesy Rabih Geha Architects © Walid Rashid

AHM - Beirut, Lebanon

Known as one of the largest nightclubs of Beirut, the AHM was designed by Rabih Geha Architects, the studio behind 2WEEKS and Uberhaus, two other popular discos of the Lebanese capital. Featuring a distinctive triangle-shaped bar and a jungle of palm trees and masts supporting hundreds of neon lights, the concept relies on a strict game of perspectives. A geometry that draws the club-goers’ attention to the DJ’s booth - a platform slightly lifted from the floor, above which raises a mystical full moon.

Courtesy Rabih Geha Architects © Walid Rashid

AHM - Beirut, Lebanon

Designed in 2017, the AHM nightclub in Biel, Beirut, covers more than 1200 sqm.

Courtesy Vitra Design Museum

Ministry of Sound - London, UK

Back in 2015, Studio OMA designed a new venue for London’s famous nightclub Ministry Of Sound. Featuring a convertible facade that could adapt successively to night and day activities, the project - which was never realised - aimed at questioning “the status of nightlife and its spatial implications”, explained Rem Koolhaas’ studio.

OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Isometric Plan Ministry of Sound II, London, 2015.

Courtesy Simon Vorhammer

Blitz - Munich, Germany

With a motto such as “Love is the message, music is the answer”, the music club Blitz opened in 2017 and rapidly seduced the party crowd of Munich with its singular graphic identity, its good restaurant and the alternative programme. Designed by Simon Vorhammer together with studio knack, Blitz is a two dance floors venue that makes the particular attention to the acoustic its strength. For an experience optimised for electronic music.

Thirty five meters long, the ‘Blitz’ dance floor allies wood and steel for a soft industrial look

Courtesy Simon Vorhammer

Blitz - Munich, Germany

The second dance floor of the 'Blitz' is named ‘Plus’ and features a distinctive school-of-fish-like pattern on the walls that plays with light.

Courtesy Vaillo+Irigaray © Rubén Pérez Bescós​

Canalla - Pamplona, Spain

Imagined by the Spanish studio Vaillo+Irigaray in 2014, the Canalla is located in Pamplona, Spain. Literally a dark box with a shimmering golden touch, the club features two alcoves covered with brass on both sides of the dance floor. As two parenthesis enveloping the dark central room made of black steel.

Courtesy Vaillo+Irigaray © Rubén Pérez Bescós​

Canalla - Pamplona, Spain

Not only do the alcoves of the Canalla nightclub offer a refined play with lights but they are also fundamental acoustic elements.

Courtesy Vitra Design Museum​​​ © Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges.

The Mothership - Detroit, USA

The past years have also seen the rise of ephemeral and nomadic devices. A mix between a spaceship and the Futuro House by Finnish designer Matti Suuronen, The Mothership is a mobile DJ booth directly inspired by the P-Funk Mothership, the futuristic device used by the king of funk music Georges Clinton during many of his concerts. Born from the ruins of Detroit, the polygonal aluminium structure was designed by Michigan-based studio Akoaki.

The Mothership was designed by studio Akoaki in 2014.

Courtesy Villa Noailles © Dylan Perrenoud, Mariana Lopes​

The Club - Lisbon, Portugal

The Club is a travelling sound system developed by Leopold Banchini and Daniel Zamarbide of BUREAU A on the occasion of the Architecture Triennale of Lisbon in 2016. Described as a temporary noise cabin, it is composed of six lego-like loudspeakers, a bar and a DJ booth mimicking the shape of a house. Highly modulable, each element can be arranged in different ways to create flexible dance floors and adapt to different situations.

Designed by Bureau A, The Club is a modulable device for live electronic music.

Courtesy Vitra Design Museum © Jeroen Verrecht​

New Castel - Horsin, Belgium

Known for their ephemeral structures designed to encourage spontaneous urban gatherings, for the 2017 edition of the Horst Arts & Music Festival, British studio Assemble imagined the New Castel, a giant scaffolding wrapped in a bluish plastic net. Semi-transparent, the structure overlooked a lake nestled in the Hageland hills, near the castle of Horsin, in Belgium. The temporary building featured a dance floor, and passageways running above the stage just like an old wooden theatre.

The New Castle Stage was developed by Assemble for the Horst Arts & Music Festival, Belgium in 2017.

Courtesy Villa Noailles © Lothaire Hucki​

La Boîte de Nuit - Hyéres, France

If discos are therefore far from being dead, it is interesting to note that museums and galleries are also increasingly interested in their influence on our society. From the independent curators Catherine Rossi and Sumitra Upham - who in 2015 presented in London the exhibition "Radical Disco: Architecture and Nightlife in Italy, 1965-1975" - to the Italian architect Emanuele Piccardo - who introduced the theme in his exposition of 2012, "Radical City" in Turin - it really seems that the world of nightclubs is very trendy at the moment.

In spring 2017 the Villa Noailles, in Hyéres (France), organized "La Boîte de Nuit", an exhibition that explored the history of the "boîtes de nuit" (discos, in French) and that included a real pop-up dance floor designed by Nicolas Dorval Bory, Sébastien Martinez-Barat and Benjamin Lafore. As a contemporary tribute to the traditional disco ball, the exhibition featured a rotating dodecahedron - the essential element to make each night more alive!

iew of the temporary dance floor of Villa Noailles.

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