Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall Competition

 


Image courtesy Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure ©Zaha Hadid Architects

 

Zaha Hadid Architects prevailed over the entries of 47 other firms to win the Sverdlovsk Concert Hall Competition in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Staging this competition in the Urals, in a remote location in European Russia from the centers of power, is testimony that culture can thrive in regions outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Considered the capital of the Urals, the city of Yekaterinburg is Russia’s third largest economy. Its population has increased by over 10% in the past decade to 1.5 million and continues to grow as the primary hub and meeting point connecting east and west, Europe and Asia; attracting the many cultures, talents and industries from across Eurasia.

 

Organized by the Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure with the support of a charitable foundation for the support of the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, the competition adjudication process narrowed the number of finalist firms down to three:

 

  • Zaha Hadid Architects, London (Winner)
  • Alvisi Kirimoto Partners Srl, Rome, Italy (2nd Place)
  • Robert Gutowski Architects, Budapest, Hungary (3rd Place)

 

The dimensions of the site and its location in a space between buildings prioritized the entrance experience to the concert hall. The Zaha Hadid and Robert Gotowski teams approached this in a somewhat similar fashion. Whereas the Zaha Hadid design suggested an almost open stage with setback as the arrival feature, Gotowski went even farther, imagining a curtain-like, concave structure as a prelude to the concert inside. Alvisi Kirimoto was more conventional, using an extension of the roof toward the street as shelter theme. The Hadid designers also extended the roof over the entire program at one level, suggesting an archeological theme.

 

Solving this program, which included two music performance venues, posed a real challenge to the architects. All three proposals could be understood as valid performance venues, and assuming the Zaha Hadid design is realized as proposed, we might see a few pilgrimages to Yekaterinburg in the coming years.

 

First Place

Zaha Hadid Architects (London)
Local Architect: SPEECH (Moscow)
Landscape design: ARTEZA (Moscow)

 

 

   
Images courtesy Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure ©Zaha Hadid Architects

 

 

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Interview: James Mary O’Connor FAIA (Winter 2017)

After receiving his Diploma in Architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology and BS in Architecture from Trinity College in Dublin, James received his Masters in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles while a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. Shortly after his time as a student in Charles Moore’s Master Class at UCLA, he joined the Moore firm in Los Angeles, now Moore Ruble Yudell. Beginning in the late 1980s, he was involved in the firm’s many projects in Germany, many of which dealt with masterplanning and the construction of large housing, primarily in Berlin. Subsequently, he was involved in the Potatisåkern Master Plan & Housing, as well as the Bo01 Housing Exhibition, both in Malmö, Sweden.
James was MRY’s point person in its subsequent involvement with the firm’s many projects in the People’s Republic of China, beginning with their winning competition proposal for the Century Center project in Beijing. Although unbuilt, it didn’t escape the notice of the Chinese, who invited the firm to participate in a competition for the Tianjin Xin-He large neighborhood masterplan—which they won. This was followed by the 2004 Chun Sen Bi An Housing Masterplan competition in the city of Chongqing, located in central China—completed in 2010. This high profile project resulted in a number of affordable and high-end housing projects throughout China. The firm’s most remarkable sustainability project was the COFCO Agricultural Eco-Valley Master Plan project outside Beijing, envisioned to become the first net zero-carbon project of its kind in the world.
In the meantime, the firm’s focus in China has evolved from its concentration on housing to institutional projects, such as the Shanghai University of Technology‘s research buildings. In the meantime MRY has been noted as a leader in the design of campus projects in the U.S. and abroad, as well as numerous government projects—courthouses and embassies.

 

 

Interview: Spela Videcnik of OFIS (Summer 2012)

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Farewell Chapel - All photos by Tomaz Gregoric

COMPETITIONS: How did you come to study architecture?

Spela Videcnik: Originally I wanted to be a fashion designer. Already at the age of ten I was already starting to do clothes by myself. Then my mother said, there isn’t much of a future in that. So I decided to study architecture. And there I met Rok, who came from an architecture background.


COMPETITIONS: After Slovenia separated from Yugoslavia over 20 years ago; this must have had an effect on the architecture profession.

SV: For the architects who were in the old system with big firms, they had to start from scratch—like everybody else. In some ways it was more difficult for them as they were not used to dealing with budgets under the previous regime; others took care of contracts. For the older architects, it was probably quite hard; for us, we managed to somehow learn. As a result, I think we were in the same position.

Before the breakup of the old state, Yugoslavia was a larger market; and there were some good architects from Serbia and the other Yugoslavian states. Back then, the Yugoslavian market was closed to Europe, and the rest of Europe wasn’t that open to us.

COMPETITIONS: After Slovenian independence, did architects here look first to Austria?

SV: No, mainly to Holland. For those who could afford it, Holland was the place to go. And, of course, there was the AA and even LA for those who could afford it. But most of us went there to study, for things were going so well here that we came back soon afterwards. For a while, we were building three large projects a year. Of course, that hasn’t been the case the past three years.


COMPETITIONS: What was your first successful competition?

SV: Housing Block 6 (Lakeside Apartments) in Ljubljana was our first building when we first started our practice, and this was after winning the competition. The competition took place in 1997, and the project was completed in 2000.

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Housing Block 6 (Lakeside Apartments)

Initially we entered a lot of competitions; most were open, and there was no requirement of any financial guarantees. The state was sponsoring these competitions, and, since there were no restrictions on participation, we were doing a lot of them. In 1998 we won two more competitions, one a housing competition, the other for a stadium in Maribor, the latter taking ten years to complete.

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