This project is a competition entry for a potential commissioned work in the small town of Kaunas, Lithuania. This concert theater complex is intended, as a criteria of the completion, to be a showpiece for the city to celebrate is recent selection as “European Capital of Culture 2022” of which this proposed building is intended to be a highly visible contributor. The competition brief emphasized the need to have a first-rank concert venue for large public events of various types.
Our entry embraced the multiplicity of having 4 highly disparate programmatic zones and simultaneously engaged the landscape in a direct and impactful manner.
Masterplan Strategy At the onset we have endeavored to create an extension of the public realm rather than an isolationist, privatization of what we believe should be an engaging public art experience for the people of Kaunas. To this end we have created a solution where the building is shaped by the site, facilitating a porosity which draws in local uses and enhances their experience. One method of engagement which we have employed is echoing the Neman river with a hyper-utilitarian walk which offers a direct connection between the bridge to old town and science island. Both as an experiential solution and as a possible projection onto the adjacent sites – we have facilitated fishing docks, bicycle roadways, river walks, garden sitting areas, boat docks, and landscaping into a single integrated system which simultaneously enhances what we consider the precious river edge, offering a strategy for architectural engagement which is both fluid and dynamic.
Architectural Design: Our team looked at music as one of the truly continuous threads connecting the historic era Lithuania and doubly fitting since this architectural endeavor is centered around this functionality. Specifically the historic birch trumpet “Ragas”, seemed incredibly relevant in that it is an instrument crafted by hand, giving each a unique sound, by common people out of the local building materials of spruce and birch bark. The visual beauty of this instrument and its wrapped birch bark surface is one that we have emulated in the development of our design strategy, the inner spruce we have equated to soft, warm, wood interiors and like our reference center we see these interiors as a musical instruments in themselves. Sustainable because our architectural solution is of the materials of Kaunas, relevant because it is of the culture of Kaunas and “from the people”.
Programatic Connectivity: At the origin of this design process the importance of public circulation through the building and the configuration of the building itself based on continuity between spaces, the ability to control ticketing and entry for each of the spaces individually and cooperatively were critical criteria. We identified 4 public zones namely the outdoor amphitheater, conference center, main hall, and secondary hall.
The solution that we have developed creates adjacency between these public zones to facilitate scenarios where each could be used autonomously without disruption to the others or in such a case as the conference center and main hall might need to be used in conjunction this can be facilitated.
Sustainability : This architectural solution moved into sustainable methods for construction not as an exclusive end but primarily because we intended to use local materials such as unhewn spruce logs on the interior structural system and birch planking on interior walls, as a reflection of the local environment. Natural lighting was utilized throughout the building and embraced as a valuable commodity in this modestly sunlit environment.