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: Diana Balmori (Winter 2009/2010)

Diana  Balmori
COMPETITIONS: What brought you to landscape architecture in the first place. And whom did you first look to as a model?

Diana Balmori: When I got my Ph.D. in history, it was the study of public open spaces in cities. The experiences of landscape had to do more with the amount of time I spent in back country in northwest Argentina, north of Chile and south of Bolivia. My father was a linguist and was studying American Indian languages there. We spent a lot of time going out on horseback in deserted landscapes where the Indians lived. Those experiences were very powerful, just the feeling of space. That experience is not a direct one, but it’s always been an active ingredient in thinking about space. The other one was just the issue of the space inside cities.
As for model, I got into landscape because I started writing about Beatrix Farrand, and I encountered a cache of documents at the New York Historical Society about her correspondence with the architect Lawrence White, the son of the famous architect. It concerned this place in Washington. Nobody had any idea about how she had designed it and how she was involved. So here was this incredibly long correspondence about this. I wrote about how in fact all the decisions were being made about the design. She had been forgotten, and there was very little written about her. So after that I some digging on her work on her work at Princeton and her work at Yale, and at Princeton I also discovered a book at Princeton of the actual design and caring for the landscape for about twenty years there. I found it an incredibly wonderful document from which to learn. It was the basis of my learning and getting interested in landscape. After that I decided I wanted to do landscape (design) and not write about it.

 

Bilbao Jardin, Bilboa, Spain (click to enlarge)

 

COMPETITIONS: When one sees your body of work, which are significant for the number of competitions you have participated in, one might assume that you are located in Europe, rather than in this country. It would appear that much of your work has come as the result of competitions. How did you get so deeply involved in that area?

 

DB: At one level, it’s the only way for a person who comes in from the outside for getting jobs. You’re starting an office, so where do you go to? I didn’t have any connections to say, ‘Give me a job.’ So from the beginning I jumped into competitions from day one, and I have pursued them very actively. Now we get into invited competitions and more direct commissions.

COMPETITIONS: Along the way, you must have learned something from these competitions.

 

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