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Competition: Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

An open international contest has been launched to revamp the Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yaravan (Deadline: 25 June)

The free-to-enter competition – organized by Armenian think tank UrbanLab – invites participants to propose a ‘bold and iconic’ overhaul of the landmark cultural venue located at 1/3 Buzand Street overlooking Republic Square and the National Art Gallery in the heart of the capital city.

The phased project, supported by the Boghossian Foundation, aims to triple the size of the gallery which has hosted experimental art since the early 1990s. A new 200-seat auditorium, media hub, café, book shop, art store, library, rental shop and film production workshop will also be delivered along with guest space for three resident artists.

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

According to the brief: ‘The current redevelopment project is a multi-stage plan for future growth, revivification and expansion. It aims to achieve a new culture of openness and knowledge production that would be concurrent with the current political reality of Armenia and hopes to engage the support of the Armenian Diaspora in the development of local creative industries.

‘Serving as a meeting point between the art community, the youth, the general public, the creative and business sector, the revived Centre should become a facilitator between innovative artistic thinking, mass culture, and industry. Based on a new managerial model, NPAK’s redevelopment presents an opportunity to create the largest temporary exhibition space in Armenia, which will simultaneously serve as one of the key cultural, entertainment and educational hubs in Yerevan.’

Located on the banks of the Hrazdan River, Yaravan is the largest city of Armenia and thought to be one of the oldest continually occupied settlements in the world. Formerly part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, the city became the capital of the independent Republic of Armenia in 1991.

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Source: Image by 23artashes

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

The Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art – known locally as NPAK – occupies a prominent building originally built during the 1980s for the Yerevan Project Design Institute. After the fall of communism the structure became the headquarters of the gallery.

The institute hosts workshops, exhibitions and conferences and has represented the country at the Venice Art Biennale. The latest project aims to revitalise and expand the venue while respecting its architectural heritage.

Anonymous submissions should include two or three display boards along with an A4 information sheet. A masterplan, floor plan, elevation, sections, three interior renders and 500 words of explanation will be required.

Judges include Armenian architect and art historian Misak Khostikyan; Philip Gumuchdjian, architect at London’s Gumuchdjian Architects; Albert Boghossian, co-chair of the Boghossian Foundation; and the chief architect of Yerevan, Arthur Meschyan.

The overall winner – to be announced 3 July – will receive a 2.5 million AMD ($5,000 USD) prize while a second prize of 1.5 million AMD ($3,000 USD) and third prize of 1 million AMD ($2,000 USD) will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 25 June

Contact details

Email: npak@urbanlab.am

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Sarhat Petrosyan

The jury member and Armenia’s head of the Committee of Real Estate Cadastre discusses his ambitions for the competition

Sarhat Petrosyan

Sarhat Petrosyan

Sarhat Petrosyan

Why are your holding an international ideas contest to rethink the future of NPAK?

Since its establishment NPAK, or as it is known internationally, Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art, has played a crucial role in the evolution of contemporary art in Armenia and has firmly established itself as one of the main contemporary art venues in the Caucasus region. The Boghossian Foundation, having the successful experience of Villa Empain of Brussels, which is a unique centre for dialogue between cultures of East and West, initiated this architectural competition with the purpose to find the best design proposal for the existing building, which needs to reflect the aforementioned aspects through contemporary architectural language that is conscious of social and environmental responsibility, the importance for radical technical experimentation and the need to sustain a dialogue with the centre’s legacy and its traditions.

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

What is your vision for the new arts and cultural centre?

The new centre needs to be a media and visual hub, a platform for performing arts, and a common space – an ecosystem for sharing art. The facilities are mentioned in a very detailed manner but applicants are encouraged to offer additional components or solutions based on their prior experience and knowledge, accompanied by supporting justification. There are no aesthetic pressures, but as stated in the competition guide ‘efforts to preserve the original architectural outline of the building, including key design elements such as the main hall, large round window, etc. would be appreciated. At the same time, we encourage bold and iconic interventions that would highlight NPAK’s revival as an example of Armenia’s new, forward-thinking cultural identity.’

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We don’t have any specific preference but an echo of Centre Pompidou in Paris would add value. The jury for the competition has an international scope, so we do encourage international teams to apply with or without any local collaborations.

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

It’s too early to discuss future initiatives, but an inclusive approach has been and is a crucial aspect of the Boghossian Foundation’s work and I’m more than sure there will be such opportunities in the future as well.