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Competition: Chopin international music centre, Poland

The Fryderyk Chopin Institute has launched an international contest for a major new music centre close to the birthplace of the Romantic-era composer (Deadline: 28 December)

The competition seeks proposals for a new concert hall and cultural institute on the historic Żelazowa Wola estate west of Warsaw where Chopin was born more than 200 years ago.

The International Centre for Music project will create a landmark new venue close to the Chopin’s historic birthplace which is now the centre of a landscaped memorial park dedicated to his life’s work.

Chopin's birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

Chopin’s birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

Chopin’s birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

According to the brief: ‘The architectural concept must take into account the spatial link with the birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin, which is the focal point of the surrounding historic park, and in particular harmonise with the function of the monumental site created in the 1920s and 1930s to commemorate the great artist.

‘Its size should integrate organically into the landscape, not dominating the environment, which does not exclude architectural proposals with expressive identity. The terrain, the architectural context of the interwar war park and the monument, and the composition of time-varying compositions are important points of reference for the project.’

Chopin was born in 1810 and his family moved to Warsaw capital shortly after. He later relocated to Paris where his musical career flourished.

Many of the buildings at Żelazowa Wola have since been reorganised or demolished, but the small annexe where Chopin was born has survived and is now a museum at the centre of a memorial park.

Chopin's birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

Chopin’s birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

Chopin’s birthplace, Żelazowa Wola

The Fryderyk Chopin Institute was created in 2001 and is based in Warsaw. The organisation holds records of the composer’s work and hosts an annual festival and five-yearly competition dedicated to promoting his legacy.

Competition entries must be in Polish and will be judged on their architectural attractiveness, functionality of interiors, acoustic quality, economics, and relationship to the surrounding historic context.

Judges include Fryderyk Chopin Institute director Artur Szklener, the musicologist Zofia Chechlińska and Piotr Walkowiak of Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

The overall winner, due to announced on 29 June, will receive a prize of PLN 200,000 and be invited to negotiate for the design contract. A second prize of PLN 150,000 and third prize of PLN 100,000 will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 3pm local time, 28 December

Contact details

Piotr Krakowski
The Fryderyk Chopin Institute
ul. Tamka 43

Tel: +48 224416100
Fax: +48 224416113

Visit the competition website for more information

View the contract notice for more information

National Music Centre of Canada case study: Q&A with Allied Works

The Portland-based practice discusses lessons learned creating a new national music centre in Alberta, Canada

How did your project deliver a landmark venue celebrating Canadian music on a sensitive site in Calgary?

Allied Works Architecture (AWA) was awarded the commission for the design of the National Music Centre’s (NMC) new home, Studio Bell, in 2009, following an international design competition and search. Completed in October 2016, the building is the first facility of its kind in North America — at once a performance hall, recording facility, broadcast studio, live music venue and museum — and Allied Works’ most ambitious project to date. The state-of-the-art cultural centre features interactive exhibition, education, and performance spaces, and incorporates and revitalises the neighbouring historic 1905 King Edward Hotel, former home to a legendary blues club.

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Rising in nine interlocking towers, clad in custom-glazed terra cotta tile, Studio Bell references acoustic vessels in its subtly curved design. The building is comprised of two main structural systems—the first forms the interlocking arches that span the lobby on the ground level, the second suspends the primary performance space and bridges the building’s towers from above. Walkways and stairs unite the two systems throughout Studio Bell’s five stories, where an interplay of glazed tile reflects and amplifies light and sound.

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

Visitors are welcomed into Studio Bell through a central lobby that opens upward through the building’s five levels. Two helical staircases on the north and the south flank the lobby and fill the interstitial space between the towers. The main performance hall overlooks the lobby and serves as the building’s programmatic and structural centre. With flexible seating and a movable acoustic wall, the performance hall can be closed for more intimate performances or opened fully to the lobby and circulation spaces to fill the entire building with music.

Exhibition galleries or ‘stages’ are spread across Studio Bell’s five floors, showcasing highlights from NMC’s collection. Each stage is envisioned as a place for interaction, appreciation and performance, where Canada’s music story—past, present and future—can be further explored. Between each is a pause of space that allows the visitor to reflect and reconnect to the building and prepare for the next encounter. Sweeping views of Stampede Park and the Bow River throughout the building allow visitors to connect back to the surrounding city and landscape.

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

National Music Centre of Canada by Allied Works

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