The M.K. ČIURLIONIS Concert Centre will be the pioneer of the Kaunas cultural network on the southern bank. The proposed design besides being the cultural center, also claims to be an urban meeting point. Incorporating the pedestrian bridge to itself, the design acts as a connection node, completing the cultural loop of the city.
The most striking characteristic of the site, is the unique relationship between land and water. The ever-changing contour line of the Nemunas, the beautiful texture of the foliage, how the site transforms from evergreen, to a snowy field, from wetlands to the river itself, is worth conserving.
With intention of preserving the existing fauna as much as possible, the building sits on the most compact footprint. A perfect square, that rests on a triangular pedestal at the intersection of two urban axes that connect the existing bridge with the proposed one. The pedestal is situated as far back as possible from the river, leaving most of the existing landscape untouched.
The urban axes divide the compact mass into three blocks. The larger of the three, contains the main hall, backstage and office functions. The second block contains the secondary hall, convention and primary foyer functions. The smallest, which tapers upwards is the public block and contains the foyer, restaurant and terrace.
The riverside walkway and the bridge meet under the tapering block, creating a covered open public area which is directly connected with both the foyer and the descending amphitheater. These areas can be used throughout the year as open public spaces, even when the halls are not in use.
The buildings exterior shell is mostly solid, except for strategic spots where it opens up to views of Kaunas with windows, terraces or balconies wherever people are gathered to enjoy a social function. Its materiality, texture and form, is a nod to both graphic and musical works of Ciurlionis, who successfully captured the essence of Lithuanian landscape, primarily the vertical rhythm of trees and the calmness of flowing water.
The forementioned axes meet within the building to form the main atrium that sits in between the three blocks, acting as the centerpiece of the public space organization. It is aimed to be an extention of the public square, the park and the city. The public space block, can be independently operated when the halls are closed with terraces, decks and restaurants with great views of the old town and Vytautas the Great bridge along with the sunset. The main foyer extends to the upper levels of the building reaching various public meeting points that extend to the halls. The atrium can also be used as an exhibition space with its rich daylight capacity, and as a performance space with the audiance watching from the balconies above.
The three storey main hall design uses the typical shoebox layout, with slightly curved rows that enhance the sociological aspect of music listening. The space is 25 meters high including the roof structure. The raked seating has the minimum slope possible with perfect sight lines. The intention is to maximize the volume of the room for enhanced acoustics. The suspended ceiling modules can individually be raised, lowered or tilted in order to adjust acoustic qualities depending on the type of the performance. When the proscenium is opened the hall becomes a single space, ideal for orchestral music. There are two sidestages, a backstage that can be lowered down to the loading bay, and an orchestra pit that can be raised for additional seating capacity. The hall is surrounded by technical and translation rooms.
The building rests on a service and carpark pedestal. This block has two vehicle entrances on both ends along the street. The east end also has a service entrance which leads to back of house functions and the loading bay. From these areas service shafts and platforms support the main functions above. A backstage space joins the back of house to the main hall and the second hall above as well as f&b functions. On top of the backstage zone, the offices are placed which are directly linked to all public and and service spaces.
The building is placed as far back as possible from the river where the site is at its highest. The main structure streches over the pedestal towards the river, creating a unique experience of the building as the tide changes. The structure’s minimal footprint leave as much terrain as possible untouched.
The buildings mostly solid shell , along with operable glazings on the bottom edge and above the atrium, enable passive climate control and increase the building’s energy efficiency. On the exterior reclaimed local wood is used both on the facades and deck areas and local natural stone is used on the main circulation zones that connect symbolically with the cobblestones of Vilnius street. The GRC panels on the interior is both lightweight and sustainable while still maintainin the natural feeling of the building. The transparent atrium roof also allows maximum daylight all thorugh the public spaces of the building.
In terms of MEP systems ground source heat pumps are proposed taking advantage of the Nemunas river and most of the building demand is met by recycled rainwater.