concert hallVilnius, Lithuania
THE MOUNTAIN AND THE CLOUD
Inspired by the works of the Lithuanian artist M.K. Čiurlionis, our architectural concept for the National Concert Hall is based on the duality of two main elements: ‘the mountain’ and ‘the cloud’.
The mountain emerges from the existing landscape and forms an extension of Tauras hill within the building. It appears as a sturdy, solid volume that contains an immaculate concert space inside. Multiple ramps and stairs are carved into the mountain, to give access to the diverse entrances of the main music hall. On top of this an exterior path weaves around the mountain, providing public access to the roof of the building, for outdoor happenings or magnificent views over Vilnius.
The cloud floats gently above the ground and eventually dissolves into the ceiling. Hidden inside the cloud, we find the small hall, as well as a number of additional cultural activities. The cloud is built out of hundreds of cylindrical shapes, suspended from the ceiling, that filter the light, dim the acoustics in the foyer and create the effect of sheer veil.
In the void between the mountain and the cloud we facilitate the ‘public space’ of the Concert Hall. The entrance facilities, lobby space, restaurant and other free accessible functions are located here. Just separated by a glass curtain façade from the surrounding park, the Nation’s house becomes an extension of the park and an accessible multifunctional platform for the city.
Čiurlionis’ ideas are reflected in his paintings. Among them are the desire to bring back spirituality, the perception of space and Lithuanian national rebirth. With the National Concert Hall we relate to these themes in a contemporary way, by creating inspiring spaces that embrace and visualize music and simultaneously offer room for people to come together and celebrate the beauty of life in all its colourful aspects.
‘..Just separated by a glass curtain façade from the surrounding park, the Nation’s house becomes an extension of the park and an accessible multifunctional platform for the city..’
Since the Nation’s house, besides her primary function of a concert hall, has a multitude of additional functions, its sequence of spaces and activities can be best described as a musical composition.
The Plaza on the east side of the building, that is positioned on top of the underground parking, functions as an entrance square for people coming from multiple directions. As a multifunctional public space it gives room for a variety of open air festivities, while serving as a lively connector between the main entrance of the Concert Hall and the park.
Allegro cheerful, lively, fast
Arriving on top of the hill the visitor finds himself in front of a building that expresses lightness, openness and joyfulness. When the glass façade slides up and opens, boundaries between inside and outside disappear and the park and the foyer space blend together. Through a cloud of thin irregular columns, hanging from the ceiling like frozen rain, one enters the grand foyer of the Nation’s house, in a void like space that works as the main public area of the building. It’s a vibrant, informal space, accessible to the public, regardless of the concert hours.
One of the main accents of the space is the restaurant, sunken in the pit under the largest cloud. It’s a cozy, intimate space, where families can have a Sunday brunch, a young professional can work on his laptop during the day or an elderly couple can enjoy a piano concerto in the evening. Attached to the restaurant pit is the open podium for performers. Other functions located in the foyer space are the reception, the cloakroom and commercial premises, such as a bookshop.
By the grand brass staircase, located in the North part of the foyer, visitors can access the small hall. It is a multifunctional hall, which provides the possibility to transform from amphitheater type to level-floor type. The layout and acoustics of the hall can be adjusted accordingly to the different kinds of music performances as well as rehearsals. The atmosphere of the hall is closer to a pop–podium, in terms of décor and lighting. The theme of the cloud is present within this hall. Specially designed vertical lighting strips will change the identity of the hall and its atmosphere with each type of performance.
Other educational spaces attached to the hall on the second and third floor include workshop rooms, temporary exhibition space and meeting rooms. All of them are accessible to the public during the day. Ticket control for the small hall is facilitated at the entrance doors to the hall.
‘..The restaurant, sunken in the pit under the largest cloud is a cozy, intimate space, where families can have a Sunday brunch, a young professional can work on his laptop during the day or an elderly couple can enjoy a piano concerto in the evening..’
Andante at a walking pace, moderate
When visitors have purchased tickets for a concert the journey continues on the mountain, that contains the main hall of the building. The mountain is a solemn and monumental part of the Nation’s home. The circulation on the mountain is separated from the rest of the building by centralized ticket control at the start of the two ramps that give access to the left en right side of the main hall seats. Apart from efficient logistics, dividing people with and without a ticket for the main hall at the entrances to the mountain, the mountain paths create wide views over the foyer and the city and give a festive experience, fitting with the anticipation of a classical music concert.
Entering the hall is a serene and magnificent moment. The stage of the hall is sunken below the ground at -1 level, whereas the audience accesses the hall from level 1 and level 2, walking down to their seats, towards the stage. The organization of the hall is vineyard type, which is more democratic and allows the audience to surround the stage from all sides. The tribune shapes are slightly irregular and asymmetrical, just like the rocky terraces of the mountain. The organ is placed in a niche, carved in the wall behind the stage. The choir balcony is also placed on that side. Dark wood floors and ceiling as well as the brass details of railings add to the chic touch of the interior.
The culmination of the building that crowns the trip, from the very bottom of the hill, through the park, to the Plaza and into the building, is the roof top of the Nation’s house. To get to this roof garden visitors can take the monumental staircase in the foyer, or take the public exterior ramp on the east side of the mountain. Both routes result in entering the impressive large terrace that overlooks the city centre of Vilnius.
The slightly stepping artificial landscape of the roof serves as an informal theatre, were the visitors can sit and enjoy a performance or simply have a panoramic view over the city. The roof top bar is a perfect feature to facilitate various events, enjoying summer evenings on the roof of the Nation’s house.
The underground levels mostly accommodate the ancillary and maintenance functions. The loading bay is located on the -2 level, therefore the spaces designated for the unloading, maintenance and storage of the instruments are also located in the vicinity. The stage of the main hall is connected to this level by a hydraulic elevator. On the same level an area is reserved for the media professionals to conduct live broadcasts.
Level -1 is accommodating backstage area access. It provides the musicians a separate entrance and privacy. The performers can access the stage directly from this level.