Design contest launched for €30m Concert Centre in Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas City Municipality and Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) today launched the Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre International Design Contest. This anonymous, one-stage competition is inviting architects from across the world to produce concept designs for an emblematic new building of national and international significance.

The city of Kaunas is rapidly creating an identity for itself as one of the Baltics’ key knowledge and cultural hubs. With no fewer than twelve universities and colleges, it has a youthful population and a vibrant atmosphere.

Selected as European Capital of Culture 2022, Kaunas is known for its lively arts and music scene, but the city – and Lithuania in general – does not have a first-rank concert hall with the acoustic quality that leading orchestras and ensembles expect today. Indeed, Kaunas lacks a substantial venue for all large public events, as well as a place for its growing business and academic communities to meet.

The Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre International Design Contest is seeking concept designs for a landmark building of circa 11,750 square metres, on a site close to the city’s heart and with memorable panoramas to its Old and New Towns. For full details of the competition, please see the dedicated competition website.

The Concert Centre will comprise: a 1,500-seat Concert Hall of exceptional acoustic quality; a smaller, secondary hall; conferencing facilities; a restaurant, café and bar; back-of-house and office spaces; and underground parking. The new building will sit within a public park, signalling that this is a place for everyone.

The site for the project is on the south bank of the River Nemunas, and the Concert Centre will help to revitalise this under-developed area of Kaunas, acting as a catalyst for further regeneration and re-orientating the city towards the riverbank.

Visvaldas Matijošaitis, Mayor of Kaunas, 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 M.K. 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’.”

International architectural practices are invited to make anonymous submissions to this one-stage contest, with a deadline of 6 September 2017.

The competition jury, which will meet in autumn 2017 to assess the schemes, comprises: Jonas Audėjaitis, Kaunas Faculty Dean, Vilnius Academy of Arts, and Member of Kaunas City Council;Gražina Janulytė-Bernotienė, Architect, Gražinos Janulytės Bernotienės studija; Ingela Larsson, Partner, Architect, Henning Larsen Architects; Povilas Mačiulis, Vice Mayor, Kaunas City Municipality; Edgaras Neniškis, Architect, Arches; Modestas Pitrėnas, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra; Daniel Rosbottom, Co-Director, DRDH Architects; and Neill Woodger, Acoustics and Theatre Designer. The jury will be chaired by Malcolm Reading, Architect and Chairman, Malcolm Reading Consultants.

The jury will select three winners, each of whom will receive an honorarium of €25,000. It is anticipated that these three practices will enter into a Negotiated Procedure without Publication of a Contract Notice with Kaunas City Municipality, with one ultimately selected as the successful bidder.

Malcolm Reading, MRC Chairman and Competition Jury Chair, 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.”

The competition is open to all qualified architects and is being run to the Design Contest procedure.

The project’s total allotted building-related cost is €30m, including taxes. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2019, with the new Concert Centre scheduled to open in time for Kaunas’ year as European Capital of Culture in 2022.