Russia: Making Waves

Russia: Making Waves

The physical representation of sound provided the inspiration for Zaha Hadid Architects’, which has won a design competition for the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall in Yekaterinburg, Russia. 

Considered the capital of the Urals, the city of Yekaterinburg is Russia’s third-largest economy with a population that has increased more than 10 percent in the last decade. Connecting Europe and Asia, the city’s 1.5 million people represent a melting pot of cultures and industries.

Yekaterinburg is also building a rich musical tradition and the city’s acclaimed Ural Philharmonic Orchestra has performed in more than 20 countries. The  new home will be an inspirational setting for the orchestra’s programme of concerts, which continue to grow in popularity.

That a dramatic elliptical shape should have provided inspiration for the new venue is no real surprise, given that the late Zaha Hadid was known as “the Queen of the Curve” for her signature flowing style.

The venue will contain a 1,600-seat concert hall and a more intimate 400-seat chamber-music hall. The two concert halls will be suspended within the steel structure of the building's roof.

"Echoing the physical aspects of sound waves, the design of the new philharmonic concert hall is based on the properties of musical sound resonance creating wave vibrations in a continuous smooth surface," the architectural practice noted.

"The design re-interprets these physical acoustic properties to define spaces for the auditoria that are suspended within the canopy, appearing to float above the new civic plaza that is both the lobby of the Philharmonic Concert Hall and an enclosed urban square."

Below the concert halls, a publicly accessible lobby and atrium space will be shaped by the forms of the venues above. The lobby serves a dual function, providing an introduction to the world of orchestral music and a welcoming public plaza for all members of the local community. Part of the design’s success is the provision of large glazed facades, inviting visitors to be part of the cultural experience within.

Just as Ykaterinburg links west and east, the new hall has been designed to connect other buildings and green spaces on the block. The new venue will be built alongside the existing Sverdlovsk Philharmonic building, which it will replace, and the Weiner Gardens. A glass wall behind the stage of the smaller concert hall provides views out over the landscaping that runs towards the adjacent Weiner Gardens and a terrace rooftop will also offer views across the city.

The practice acknowledges Russia’s formative influence on its creative work.

"From very early in her career, Zaha was attracted to the Russian avant-garde, who conceived civic spaces as urban condensers that catalyse a public realm of activity to enrich creativity and community; allowing space itself to enhance our understanding and wellbeing. These principles are embedded within the design of the new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall."

ZHA’s Russian work includes the private Capital Hill Residence which provided a dramatic 22 metre viewing tower set in the middle of a forest in Moscow. The firm has also been selected to build a Moscow technology park and a smart city neighbourhood in the Russian capital that will provide homes for more than 66,000 residents.