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: Ralph Johnson of Perkins+Will (Fall 1995)

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COMPETITIONS: you have been in both open and invited compe-titions—both as a juror and as a participant. Which type do you prefer and why?

 

RALPH JOHNSON: I think both are viable. For a young architect, open competitions are great, because they are not going to get invited. It’s a way for young architects to break into a bigger scope of work. It’s an oppor-tunity for someone who doesn’t have the experience in that particular building type to get into a new area.
Shanghai Natural History Museum Photos: courtesy Perkins and Will

 

An invited competition usually involves some kind of portfolio or resume of the firm’s work, and you usually get selected on experience in that particular building type. In the latter case, you are probably dealing with fairly extensive presentation requirements and a big outlay of money. It often also involves a couple of stages. If the compensation is adequate, which is usually six figures—$100,000-$200,000—it’s great. Most of the time, it’s inadequate. For the recent (Beirut Conference Center) competition, we did in Lebanon, it was $200,000, and that was enough to cover (our) costs. So there are benefits for both types of competitions.

 

COMPETITIONS: And as a panelist?

 

RJ: It’s much more difficult to jury the open ones because it takes longer. I was on the Astronaut Memorial jury, and there were over 600 entries. You normally don’t interview the architect; it’s single-stage. It’s more a process of winnowing out inadequate submissions—which is easy to do—and getting down to the ten percent after the first cut. In the case of an invited competition, you have five to ten submissions from very qualified firms. I think it’s good if you can actually interview firms and have a question and answer period. In an open competition, it’s almost inevitable that you wonder who is actually doing the project, how qualified the architect is. It’s hard to keep that out of your mind.

 

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Shanghai Natural History Museum Photos: courtesy Perkins and Will

 

COMPETITIONS: In other words, the presentation isn’t necessarily an indication of the qualifications of the designer?

 

RJ: I wasn’t on the jury in the case of the Vietnam Memorial, which was a famous competition. There were very sketchy charcoal drawings (by Maya Lin), which really didn’t indicate anything other than conceptual design capabilities. How could you possibly come to any conclusion of technical competence based on those drawings? You really have to read into it and assume a lot in terms of the person. In that case, of course, it was a great success as a non-complex building type. As a laboratory or something else, it’s a different story.

 

COMPETITIONS: There are a number of anecdotes concerning jurors speculating about the author behind a competition entry—the one in Paris resulting in the Grand Arch is an example. Richard Rogers, a competition juror, supposedly remarked to another juror, Richard Meier, that the author of what eventually turned out to be the winning design, “might be a nobody.” Meier reminded Rogers that, before Pompidou, he was a “nobody.”

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