The proposal aims to simultaneously make maximum use of the existing building, design a state of the art concert hall and revitalize the whole cultural complex. The expansion therefore works both as an envelope to the new concert venue and as a mediating space that integrates the House of Culture and the new concert hall into a coherent complex. To achieve this integration a new common space is placed at street level. This new volume is an elongated glass portico that embraces the complete front of the monument. To highlight this new articulation and to make an emphasis on the integration of the expansion to the existing building we proposed also a new common entrance to the House of Culture.
This newly central covered entry point aims to re-energize the idea of a cultural venue for multiple activities. A clear address for the House of Culture is able to organize in a clear way the multiple flows through a centralized info & ticket point. Access to all venues becomes readable for the visitor: the new concert hall in the center, chamber hall and theatre to the east wing and since the new glass volume spreads also to the west wing ends there is an opportunity to recover the original entrance to the cinema. A new connection to the park in the north is also placed near this entrance area.
The form of the expansion envelope derives from the relation between the ground floor glass portico space and the volume reserved for the new concert hall located above. To make a more nuanced transition between these two regular volumes and the regular outlines of the existing building four subtly curved vertical surfaces are introduced. The frontal curves accentuate the new common entrance while maximizing the use of public space through an overhang. The inner curves meanwhile create a more intimate connection with the monument facades by the creation of two corner gardens. These curved surfaces are partly transparent allowing permeability between the street and the monument.
Two curved ceilings emerging from the top of the concert volume provide the space for a spacious concert hall foyer and give a distinctive silhouette to the new building. Through a semi translucent glass skin the front and back facade of the concert volume become a transition surface that mediates the new between the city and the monument. Once the new envelope above ground is placed a new relationship emerges at its side edges through two public terraces. This open air foyer areas create a new experience of the monument but also bring forward an evident connection between the new concert hall and the chamber hall to be located in the existing house of culture main hall.
Although the concert space volume reaches the limit of the urban planning regulation the extension at ground floor leaves a generous set back where the existing esplanade turns into a promenade that extends all the way to the park in the west wing. This extension becomes a continuous public space integrating the area with the existing fountains in both ends. The park surrounding the monument will get a more active connection in front of the building, as the complete complex will be accompanied by a continuous public space. The backside garden of the monument will make a new relationship to the park by the introduction of a public cafe and a terrace directly linked from the new entrance. This garden can also be used as an outdoor performance space.
While the proposal makes minimal structural changes to the monument it also aims to minimize its impact on the surroundings by concentrating both the new expansion and the parking premises in one area of intervention. Besides maximizing the preservation of the existing monument, our aim is to also restore few key elements of the original design now in disuse such as its windows for the chamber hall and the old cinema with its entrance. The educational space currently being use as cinema will also be restored. Two structural changes are proposed for the monument, the first entails the introduction of two cargo lifts centrally accessible for the complex and the second includes the modernization of the theatre backstage.
The circulation system of the project follows the original design logic from Jaroslav Fragner where the east and west wings get connected by a central wing. The expansion adds a new connection to the front of the building parallel to Fragner connecting axis binding the east and west wings south ends with the new glass portico and the foyer above. This scheme adds the advantage to have one public space and one private flow connection with their own designated entrances. A new north-south crossing gives access to both the new concert space and a public cafe facing the park in the north side.
The second platform of the expansion coincides with the second above ground floor of the existing building and becomes a floor exclusively reserved for music. The music floor is conceived taking into account the way musicians and logistics are distributed and places emphasis on having both stages at the same level. Musicians can therefore attend comfortable both venues in a very direct way. From a logistic point of view this advantage is accentuated by having easy access to both stages from 2 new freight lifts. The public of both concert hall and chamber all meet at the east wing terrace.
The new cultural complex will become able to host a multi purpose music oriented festival using the main two concert venues but also allowing amplified jazz music events at the old cinema. The recovered educational space can also host small music events. In regards to the need to rent the building for public events we propose a series of places that adapt according to the required capacity and the agenda availability. With a seating capacity of 1257 persons, the concert space takes the central position of the expansion in both plan and section. To arrive to the concert area the visitors take the side stairs that makes direct visual contact with the courtyard and the monument (see also cover page). Once the guests arrive to the 1st level there is a continuous foyer that surrounds the concert space and creates spatial relationships with both wings of the monument. The foyer is accompanied by amenities such as bar and toilet areas. In addition guests can use the terraces in both ends if weather allows it. From this foyer level guest can take the second stairs to go to 1st and 2nd gallerie floors. The interior of the concert hall follows the guidelines to achieve the best accoustic results (see accoustic text) while giving a warm atmosphere to musicians and public alike. Since musicians spend a great amount of time in this space we propose a perimetral skylight to keep the concert area illuminated when needed. Galleries, stage and walls are mainly straight walls that turn in wide radius to achieve the accoustic desired results while maintaining a continuity of visual lines. A large stage is directly connected to the music cloakroom areas through a backstage area that surrounds the stage. This space is conceive with great generosity since it is here that musicians will concentrate before entering the concert space.
The design of the concert hall completely revolves around acoustics to create a world class concert hall for classical music, as the home for the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava and as a prestigious venue to attract guest orchestra’s. In order to realize ideal acoustics for the complete symphonic repertoire, the volume of the hall is chosen to be around 20.000 m3. Although this might seem somewhat large for the required audience capacity, it will be necessary to facilitate the whole classical repertoire from chamber music to the large Mahler and Brückner symphonies, choir and organ and everything in between.
In our design, the orchestra stage is surrounded by stage walls and covered with stage reflectors, which together create the early reflections that are necessary for the development of good sound quality, blending of the orchestra instruments and optimum playing conditions for the musicians. Due to the acoustic required volume, there is amply architectural freedom to accommodate the audience in a friendly and intimate way, with the musicians in the centre of attention. The seats behind the stage can either be used for choir or for audience, in this way the audience is never situated behind the choir. The width of our hall design is relatively small, so that the side wall reflections realize a stereo sound and listeners feel themselves surrounded by music. This basic acoustical idea of a natural envelopment and 3D surround sound, which is a common feature of the world’s best known acoustics in concert halls is further supported by sufficient height of the hall, stalls at stage width and downkickers in the wall structure.The shape of the hall is best described as a hybrid shape, which can combine the optimal solutions from the classical shoebox shape and the more modern vineyard hall shape. The chamber music hall is situated in the historical building. The volume of the main hall of the House of Culture gives us plenty of possibilities to design a chamber music hall for recitals up to chamber orchestra concertos. Due to the relative large dimensions, our idea is to introduce a new balcony, free standing as a separate element and therefore visually free from the historical boundaries. The historical windows can be restored with adequate sound insulation as well as room acoustic elements by means of glass designed constructions where necessary and possible. For a further development of the best possible acoustics in the halls we reserved ample space for sound diffusion structures in wall and ceiling, the materials for superb sound quality as well as of course the necessary thickness for sound insulation and silent HVAC.
Location: Ostrava, Czech Republic
Architects: Koschuch Architects & IND [Inter.National.Design]
Koschuch project team: Rui Duarte, Ralph van Mameren, Vojtech Stybnar, Luca Vatteroni
IND project team: Felix Madrazo, Arman Akdogan, Teresa Papachristou, Alvaro Borrajo Alemany, Joanna Kosowicz, Marek Nosek, Antonia Pohankova, Vittorio Perotti