Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Kaunas concert hall, Lithuania

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) has launched an open international contest to design a €30 million concert hall in Kaunas, Lithuania (Deadline: 6 September)

The anonymous single-stage competition – backed by Kaunas City Municipality – will select a conceptual design for the 11,750m² landmark complex within Lithuania’s second-largest city, which was recently named European Capital of Culture 2022.

The MK Čiurlionis Concert Centre, named after Lithuanian painter, composer and writer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, will occupy a landmark site overlooking the city’s historic old and new towns. A waterfront park and multifunctional spaces for public and community events will also be included alongside the 1,500-capacity concert hall.

Competition site taken from above Aleksotas looking towards Old and New Towns

Competition site taken from above Aleksotas looking towards Old and New Towns

Source: Image by Kaunas City Municipality

Competition site taken from above Aleksotas looking towards Old and New Towns

Kaunas mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis said: ‘The city of Kaunas is delighted to be launching this design contest, and we invite architects from across the world to participate. Our new concert centre will be a beacon for music, culture and the arts; a symbol of Kaunas’ confidence and ambition; and an integral part of our city’s commercial and creative renaissance.

‘The people of Kaunas chose to name our new concert centre after the Lithuanian painter and composer MK Čiurlionis, a gifted polymath: this will be a space for different disciplines – art, music, business and academia – to meet and interact, in a genuine “theatre of ideas”.’

MRC chair and jury chair Malcolm Reading said: ‘This project has a number of compelling ingredients: a vibrant, developing city; a receptive and forward-thinking client; a population that values culture, design and the arts; and an ambitious brief that calls for the very best.

‘Designers should pay great attention to using culture and the arts to foster a sense of shared experience, as well as integrating different parts of the city, reviving adjacent neighbourhoods, and attracting citizens and visitors closer to the river.’

Kaunas is home to many academic institutions and emerging businesses. The settlement was recently named a UNESCO global creative city and will become European Capital of Culture in 2022. The competition announcement comes eight months after SimpsonHaugh and Partners was named one of three finalists in an earlier MRC competition for a £21 million national science and innovation centre on nearby Nemunas Island.

Competition site (to the right)

Competition site (to the right)

Source: Image by Kaunas City Municipality

Competition site (to the right)

The concert hall site is on the south bank of the River Nemunas, overlooking the city’s Old Town, featuring many Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, and its New Town, which hosts several Modernist icons from the country’s brief interwar period of independence.

As well as the main concert hall, the scheme will feature a secondary hall, conferencing facilities and a restaurant, café and bar. Offices, back-of-house facilities and a underground car park will also be delivered along with a new waterfront public park. The scheme is planned to complete in 2022.

Judges will include Kaunas City Council member and Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas faculty dean Jonas Audėjaitis; Ingela Larsson, partner at Henning Larsen Architects; Kaunas vice mayor Povilas Mačiulis; and DRDH Architects co-director Daniel Rosbottom.

Three winning teams, due to be announced in the autumn, will receive €25,000 each and be invited into a negotiated procedure with the client to select an overall recipient of the design commission.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 6 September

Contact details

Jayne Broomhall
Malcolm Reading Consultants
29 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London
WC2A 3EG

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7831 2998
Email: kaunasconcertcentre@malcolmreading.co.uk

Visit the competition website for more information

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall case study: Q&A with Studio Fuksas

The Rome, Paris and Shenzhen-based practice discusses lessons learned designing a waterfront concert venue in Tbilisi, Georgia

How did your project create a landmark venue for music performances in Tbilisi?

The project is located in the middle of the city and this contributes to making it a landmark venue. In addition, its contemporary architecture generates curiosity. It is like a periscope to the city and it looks towards the river framing the historic core of the Old Tbilisi.

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Source: Image by Joel Rookwood

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

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

When we build we try to recreate parts of nature, to work with water, to get energy storage. Innovative forms, record size, total usability, highly advanced technological equipment: the utmost care in spatial design is present in all our projects from the first phases. This involves systems that ensure the maximum energetic efficiency and the best use of geothermal science and cogeneration. For the materials we have used stainless steel, steel and glass. When the place changes, several environmental aspects change too. In this respect, technology can be a valid tool, in keeping intact the equilibrium between the building site and its context, in order to prevent threatening the environment, which is often an extraordinary one.

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Source: Imge by Archivio Fuksas

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a waterfront concert hall for Kaunas?

None. Because the context is different. Each project has its own specific context and background. Nestled in these influences, the building is a response to its surroundings, and one defined model cannot be adapted to all the diverse range of site conditions. The secret is not to impose your own vision. If you want to return the real identity of a place, you must respect the context.

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Source: Image by Nikolay Kaloshin

Tbilisi Music Theatre and Concert Hall by Studio Fuksas

Harpa case study: Q&A with Osbjørn Jacobsen

The partner at Henning Larsen discusses lessons learned designing a concert hall for Reykjavik Iceland

How did your project create a landmark venue for music performances in Reykjavik?

Since Harpa opened in 2011, it has become the most visited destination in Iceland. The very ambitious goal to focus on architectural qualities and flexibility has undoubtedly paid off. It’s illustrated with a very diverse and impressive programme, ranging from international names to being one of the main venues for the progressive Iceland Airwaves festival.

The main architectural intention was to make a natural dynamic connection between the public city space and the public foyer spaces in Harpa. With the obvious benefits a public indoor space has in this relatively harsh climate. This has been a success. Harpa has become a vivid community space where you will meet kindergartens, yoga classes, picnicking families, and encounter all sorts of cultural activities.

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

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

Our approach to architecture has always been driven by contextual analyses: location, climate, history etc. The main inspiration for the design of Harpa is the powerful experience of Icelandic nature. Looking back at Harpa today, it’s very clear that geology is a predominant motif and it brings out an Icelandic primordial force that foreign guests are fascinated by and Icelanders can relate to. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that locals and visitors have embraced the building.

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a waterfront concert hall for Kaunas?

It’s obvious that the goal should be to establish a state of the art venue – it makes no sense to spend enormous amounts of resources on building an average instrument. The ambition is to create the ultimate framework for artistic expression. Beside from that, my best advice would be for everybody involved to establish a sincere focus on giving back to the city, to become an informal part of the daily life of Kaunas. You have to acknowledge that the essence of culture is interaction among people; that’s what you should be framing with your architecture. In my view, this has been the most important success of Harpa. The mission is accomplished, Harpa has become a new vibrant public space in the city of Reykjavík.

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Harpa by Henning Larsen

Q&A: Malcolm Reading, MRC chair and jury chair

Malcolm Reading

Malcolm Reading

Malcolm Reading

Why is Kaunas holding a single-stage international contest for a waterfront concert hall?

This is a wonderful site in a beautiful city. Creating a landmark public building in this location will energise the area and bring new prosperity. Kaunas is an incredibly go-ahead city, which is purposefully building a modern cultural infrastructure to position itself as the arts capital of the Baltics. The new concert centre will deliver this, as well as providing first-class facilities for Kaunas’s citizens. An international competition is one of the best ways to seek out architectural talent to match this ambition.

What is the vision for the new venue on this prominent site?

It’s a major project with a complex brief. The city carried out a detailed feasibility study before embarking on the competition, which we were able to absorb into the brief. So, competitors have a very thorough set of co-ordinated requirements to consider. The site conditions are tricky because of the proximity to a busy road as well as the river frontage, but this also offers a lot of opportunity for social and interactive public space. In fact, the social programme for the building is incredibly important and we are hoping to see this reflected in concept designs.

View from the competition site towards Kaunas' Old Town

View from the competition site towards Kaunas’ Old Town

Source: Image by Kaunas City Municipality

View from the competition site towards Kaunas’ Old Town

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

The competition is open. There are some requirements imposed by Lithuanian procurement regulations in terms of relevant experience but we have tried to make the competition as open as possible. It’s a very appealing project for an emerging team – a chance to show innovation and imagination in a public building – but equally may appeal to a more established studio that wants to demonstrate maturity and identity. The client and jury are very open to the opportunity and have no preconceptions.

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

As anyone who has followed MRC’s recent competitions will know, this is our second major cultural project for the city. Kaunas recently won the European Capital of Culture 2022, and this is a great endorsement of its leadership and ambition in Lithuania and the wider Baltics. It’s a city going places. I am sure there will be emerging opportunities in public realm and place-making as 2022 approaches – especially as the city explores the potential to regenerate the areas of obsolete semi-industrial riverbank that bifurcate the city.

Are there any other concert hall projects you have been impressed by?

This isn’t just a concert hall – the brief envisages a more nuanced and animated set of spaces. The social and artistic energy of the renewed Festival Hall in London springs to mind, so too does the urban dynamism of the CaixaForum Madrid and the functional clarity of Aalto’s Finlandia Hall. But don’t take these as literal prompts; we are seeking something genuinely fresh and rooted in the site, designed to respect the environment as well as being true to the cultural ambition. So a tough challenge perhaps, but I am confident we will have a fantastic set of submissions.

Kaunas Old Town with Vytautas The Great bridge in the foreground

Kaunas Old Town with Vytautas The Great bridge in the foreground

Source: Image by Kaunas City Municipality

Kaunas Old Town with Vytautas The Great bridge in the foreground

 

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.