The Municipality of Vilnius intends to build on Tauras Hill the National Concert Hall of Lithuania, «Tautos Namai». This project is an opportunity to reflect on how the historical idea of the House of Nation can finally be materialized, and how it will start the architectural and urban transformation of a major site for the city, which will resonate nationally and worldwide.
Project Name: National Concert Hall Vilnius
Program: New National Philharmonic Hall of Lithuania
Main Hall of 1700 seats
Small Hall of 500 seats
1 rehearsal hall of 300m²
workshops and warehouses
restaurant, café, lobby
House of the Nation’ exhibition space
underground parking garage
address: Tauras Hill Vilnius, Lithuania
competition: July 2019
award: 2nd Prize (248 participants)
construction cost: 52 M € including VAT netto
floor area: 16 539 m²
coût/m²: 3 145 €/m²
building footprint: 4660 m²
client: City of Vilnius
The project aims to create a venue representative of our society’s contemporary needs : its multi-functional and open character will be dedicated to art and culture on all scales.
At Vilnius’ scale, it is a new landmark for the cityscape, a public-dedicated symbol which will open Tauras Hill to the whole city.
At the national scale, the House of Nation hosts the creation, promotion and diffusion of Lithuanian culture and identity.
Finally, at the international scale, it is meant to become a world-class acoustic venue for main classical orchestras, as well as a contemporary architectural icon.
CONCEPTUAL APPROACH: INVITATION AND OPENNESS
Vilnius’ National Concert Hall is first and foremost an expression of public culture, opened to everyone. The diversity of its activities is shared between the inhabitants, musicians, technicians and curious visitors from everywhere. As such, it is meant to stand out as an expressive and functional venue, a new landmark acting like a beacon of light in the city.
Following a clear concept, the building adopts a very distinctive shape, offering a unique profile easily recognizable from all angles.
Thought as an architectural landmark on top of the popular Tauras Hill, its concave facades are turned towards all directions and express an inviting feeling of welcomeness from every side.
By the reflections on its skin during daytime and its lighting on evenings and nighttime, it becomes a radiant symbol for the institution.
This iconic multi-oriented shape materializes the dynamism, pluralism and openness of the National Concert Hall. From its exceptional location on top of Tauras Hill, it dialogues with other high spots in the city such as the Gediminas tower, while preserving the natural profile of Naujamiestis’s slopes.
« The composer should have only one thought and one desire during the hour of creation »
M.K. Ciurlionis, lithuanian composer and painter.
URBAN APPROACH : LINKED IN
Since the building is, by nature, an inviting symbol visible from far away, a coherent network is created to link it easily to the surrounding park and the city. The Tauras Hill site is well connected at the urban scale to the vehicule roads and soft mobility lanes of Vilnius. A fluid network of pedestrian and bike lanes is implemented from the building, and is carefully wovened to this existing network, thus creating a cohesive mesh at all scales and for all kinds of mobility.
Pedestrian and bike pathways
Soft transportation means such as bike and pedestrian lanes are conceived as part of the North-South axis developped by the municipality. In the middle between the train station and the new city center, Tauras Hill forms an important component of the public spaces forming this axis. Bike lanes accross the park are linked to the East and South of the hill while pedestrians can access from everywhere on the site, since the project’s strength is to radiate on all sides. A bicycle parking is located in the ground floor of the Concert Hall.
Car accessibility for public
A principle of park-and-walk all around the hill directly connects the three existing public parkings to the building. The spots on Tauro Street are already high enough on the hill to create an easy access, with an almost flat topography leading visitors until the entrance. The 2 parking areas at the foot of Tauras Hill are connected to the Concert Hall by mechanical stairs from Pamenkalnio street. A drop-off area for individual cars and taxis is created on the Southern side, via the M. Valanciaus street, and creates an easy access, especially for people with reduced mobility, very close to public and private entrances.
Car accessibility for staff
The car access for staff members to the underground parking is made from Mykolaicio-Putino street, at the South side of the Concert Hall. It hosts 50 private parking spots for cars and reserved spaces for bicycles and motorbikes. Closely linked to the staff’s main vertical circulation inside, this access optimizes short distances for staff members.
In accordance with the park project proposal, ponctual technical deliveries will take place on the Eastern access from Tauro street, with a tunnel leading to the underground level. This allows the deliveries to be made in the basement, as well as it preserves the continuity of the public park above, all around the building.
FUNCTIONAL APPROACH : EFFICIENCY AND RATIONALITY
The building is organized following a very rational layout, optimizing public and private functions and circulations around a simple principle.
The public spaces are organized on the northern side, overlooking the Hill and the city, while the private functions are turned towards the South, enjoying the old cemetery’s park serenity.
The Grand Hall, Small Hall and Rehearsal Hall form a central core of representation, where all populations are eventually gathered and meet during the various events. Spaces on the ground floor are completely transparent and opened on all sides, in order to welcome visitors and staff alike from every angle possible.
The public is welcomed at the top of Tauras Hill on the northern facades. On all sides, a serie of continuous flat terraces are linked to the pedestrian and bicycle network, forming an all-round threshold. They act as a 360° promontory, which offers panoramic views to the city. Those terraces are directly prolongated inside the building, thus blurring the limit between the interior and exterior, and allowing the ground floor cafe in summer to animate the outdoor spaces.
The three northern facades define inside a continuous space, inhabited on five levels with overlapping floors and balconies. As soon as entering, the visitor can appreciate around him the diversity of those freely-organized sub-spaces : main entrance, ticket sale and cloakroom on the ground floor, and the lobbies on upper levels for the Concert Hall.
In the middle of the atrium, the main exhibition space plays a central role : located at the junction between the lobbies and the panoramic restaurant on the last floor, it elevates the Lithuanian History and identity at the heart and crossroads of all public circulations.
Private programs for staff and musicians are located towards the South, enjoying the quiet side of the old cemetery’s park, and its mostly residential neighborhood. A direct connection is created with the cemetery’s park level thanks to a continous topography, which allows them to be welcomed on the first level.
The dressing rooms are organized on the two first levels, right in-between the halls’ stages, while the rehearsal rooms take place on the second and third levels. On the upper levels, the management area enjoy privacy and panoramic views, while remaining easily connected to the other parts of the building.
The new National Concert Hall thus combines various specific functions and flexible spaces into a coherent and expressive building for the city.
The environnemental approach is a key paramater of the architectural project, and should be integrated as early as possible into the first design stages.
The National Concert Hall aims to reach the A+ energy efficiency class, as a remarkable example of sustainable design, and this is possible thanks to the interaction between the urban, architectural and technical approaches.
The energetical goals are by no means a constraint but an opportunity full of potentials for architectural design.
Orientation and compactness
The compactness of the building’s volume gives it a favorable ‘shape factor’ reducing energy supply. The facades and roof only represent a total combined surface of 12 090 sqm, for an inner volume of 120 400 cubic meters.
Solarization of the building
Free solar gains during the heating season are a source of significant energy savings in addition to visual comfort and undeniable well being. The working spaces are oriented to the South, taking advantage of solar gains, while the circulation spaces such as the lobbies are located on the Northside.
Insulation and airtightness of the enveloppe
The entire building is strongly isolated from the outside (opaque walls) which minimizes losses by thermal bridges.
All facades and roof are treated as a high performance insulated skin, which continuously wraps the entire building, with no interruption or complex technical setbacks. The Halls are inside the volume and isolated from the outside.
To maintain the indoor air quality of the premises, it is necessary to ventilate, taking care to limit the energy impact of the air renewal. Natural ventilation is preferred over mechanical ventilation as soon as outdoor conditions permit.
Because of the insulation and tightness of the envelope, ventilation now accounts for a large part of the leakage.
It is essential to recover the energy of the extracted air through the installation of dual flow air treatment plants equipped with a high–performance energy recuperator (yield> 80%).
Natural lighting of spaces
The design of the building promotes natural lighting. The scenic boxes are located in the heart of the building and, around them, spaces which need natural light. The power of lamps is dimensioned just as necessary. It does not exceed 9 W / m² for the entire building and efficient regulation according to the type of premises and occupancy reduces lighting consumption.
The production of energy is respectful of the environment and has an excellent yield thanks to the reversible heat pumps on deep geothermal probes. In addition to benefiting from excellent performance (4.2 on average), it does not release pollutants on the site (electrical energy).
Attendance, type of activities and energy supplies are irregular between the different premises. Therefore, it is necessary to have several zones able to be heated independently in order to avoid any energy wastage (heating in vacancy of the premises). Thus, Independent circuits for each zone and each facade are implemented.
A reasonable approach to summer comfort, combined with a thorough reflection on the envelope limits heat loads due mainly to sunshine. The design aims to limit the risk of overheating in the summer (volumetry, solar protection) while facilitating the evacuation of superheated air (night ventilation and natural ventilation through). Thus, only the premises with high occupancy are air-conditioned (halls, main rehearsal room) as well as the specific technical premises (IT room, control room).
A cold beam cooling (comfort, no maintenance) is set up in several premises: dressing rooms, individual rehearsal rooms, offices. The deep geothermal probes allows air refreshing most of time, only if necessary heat pump implements energy to reach the good temperature.
A buried tank is used to collect and store rainwater for sanitary purposes and thus reduce water consumption. Water-saving equipment and efficient appliances are also implemented in all the water features.
Waste water from the building is collected, and initially treated in a series of successive phytoremediating bassins located on the planted roof.
The respect of these provisions allows us to realize a building respectful of its environment and according to the A+ energy efficiency class.
The structure, within the organic shape of the building, follows a simple and orthogonal scheme.
The National Concert Hall’s building relies on a mixed concrete and steel structure. The steel construction techniques allow a great use of prefabrication, as well as a clean construction site and process with very few waste. The halls are built with concrete walls, giving an effecient acoustic isolation between spaces, and the slabs are built with a steel structure with collaborative floors. The whole building is braced by 4 concrete cores where the emergency stairs are located.
The structural scheme is developed around the volumes of the Grand hall, the Small hall and the Rehearsal Hall, of which the physical and acoustic partitions are made of reinforced concrete sails with a minimum thickness of 0.25m (depending on the stresses, slenderness and fire stability required). These vertical structures are supplemented by load-bearing façade systems made from metal poles of 200x400mm tubular sections, spaced around 3.0m. These facade poles are protected by either intumescent painting or reinforced concrete filler.
Between these vertical structures, the different levels of floors are built with metal frames of standard commercial profiles and supporting mixed steel/concrete floors (ribbed steel tank with cast-in-place concrete compression slab) The metal profiles are equipped with connector studs and are thus justified in mixed concrete/steel sections, thanks to the association with the reinforced concrete compression slabs. This system allows the realization of all current floors of relatively large bearing range, between 7.5 and 12.5m, and support operating charges between 2.5 and 5.0 kN / m².
Above the Grand Hall, the metal structure consists of a framework formed by a series of lattice beams, with spans between 30 and 44.0m. They are spaced every 7.50m apart and support a set of common commercial profiles such as IPE 300 type. Those IPE profile bear the thermo-acoustic roofing complexes made of double skinned steel tanks. The lattice beams of large spans of the Hall, with very large inertia, are dimensioned taking into account the scenographic loads as well as the system of suspended acoustic reflectors.
Above the Small Hall, a similar system of lattice beams spans the whole room (from 19 to 23m) and forms the technical upper floor, which supports the suspended ceiling.
Concerning the floors above the Rehearsal Hall, whose bearing span is around 20m approximately, the metal beams are made from alveolar welded composite profiles of approximately 1.20m high, which allows the passage of networks in their layer.
MATERIALIZATION : TRANSPARENCY AND WARMTH
The facade system is based on the idea of a lantern, diffusing the sunlight inside during the day and acting as a beacon of light during the night. The principle uses vertical translucent glass tubes supsended along the curved sides of the volume, thus playing with variation in repetition, like an abstraction of music made of light. The spacing and rythm create a vibration when moving around and in the building, as well as it generates different sensations according to the viewing angles and times of the day.
Inside, the ground floor level is completely transparent towards the park. When going up in the lobbies, the facades create a first filter through which the landscape is partially blurred. It’s a visual transition, a threshold which is gradually dimming off the exterior, before entering the inner worlds of the Halls.
Concert hall materials
The wooden halls are designed as the achievement of the public journey through the building, and must reflect a welcoming and warm atmosphere, conducive to the sharing of music and other shows.
Besides its acoustic potentials, oak wood is also used because of its ease of implementation on complex surfaces such as curves and angular volumes. In the Grand Hall, its horizontal orientation serves the architectural concept : it accentuates the continuity of the curved walls, and adds to the general feeling of being wrapped in a smooth and continous space. In the Small Hall, the natural color and texture of the wood creates a dramatic contrast with the translucent facade when opened.
Most finishing products needed for the big spaces of the Grand Hall, the Small Hall and the Rehearsal Hall are bio-sourced materials.
The Grand Hall is shaped in a vineyard layout, which suits the idea of sharing music evenly, between the performers and listeners, in all directions. The Grand Hall folllows an introverted concentric organization where listeners are envelopping the stage on all sides. As Hans Scharoun said, « people always gather in circles when listening to music informally ». The surrounding balconies thus reflect the multi-directionnal character of sound, while symbolically emphasizing the democratic concept of the new National Concert Hall.
Above the balconies, custom acoustically-optimized reflectors form a suspended ceiling inspired by Lithuania’s traditional flax flower. Each « petal » forming a reflector is overlapping its neighbor, following a windmill design principle, as it is the case in the natural flower. The different layers of these convex reflectors, illuminated through the resulting gaps, generate a general feeling of lightness and generosity which is developped throughout the whole building.
The architectural design of the grand hall has been developped, together with the acoustic advisor, to reach the highest standards of acoustic quality. It has been modeled with Odeon software (seat with middle upholstery) and sightlines and reflections investigations have been made by using Rhino software. The reverberation time is 2,5s in the empty hall, and both the RT and the Early Decay Time (EDT) are constant through the hall. This means that 2.0 s in the occupied hall is achieved at 500 Hz without any problem.
The simulations indicate that the increase of 10% per octave at low frequencies is achieved. To reduce the RT to 1,5s at 500 Hz, a system of movable textile banners will be used on walls and across the hall. The Lateral efficiency (LF80) is on average at 0,20 (above 0,18 required). The strength is on average of 6 dB, somewhat lower in the rear parts of the hall, as can be expected, in a hall of this size. The ventilation principle is to have air inlet at seating level through an acoustic chamber, and to extract exhaust air at ceiling level. This principle allows to fullfill the background noise levels requirements (NR10).
The Small Hall is designed both as a generic multi-functional venue as well as a specific architectural space in the project. Its position along the curved facade allows daylight to be used as a scenographic element, as well as it echoes the exterior shape of the building inside. The natural light and views can be adjusted through the use of a continous flexible partition wall, implemented in the technical ceiling level, and can recreate a rectangular blackbox when needed.
To add even more flexibility and ease the transformation of the Hall, a system of retractable bleachers in the rear wall can help switching quickly from a flat floor to a bleachers configuration, and the electro-acoustic enhancement system can modulate the acoustical conditions of the room at leisure. The slightly curved wooden panels on the walls give an intimate and domestic warmth to the space, while the dimensions remain generous enough to host up to 500 spectators in many different configurations.
The acoustic of the small hall has been investigated by statistical analysis. The small hall is a shoebox shaped hall, with a maximum width of about 18 m and a volume of more than 4500 m3.
The reverberation time of the hall is about 0,7-0,8 s. The hall will be equipped with an electro-acoustic enhancement system. Using the system, the reverberation time can be extended to at least 2,0 s at mid-frequencies. Lateral fraction and other acoustic parameters can be created by the electro-acoustic enhancement system.
If the electro acoustic enhancement system is not installed, it is possible to achieve the required acoustic parameters, using passive acoustic control. The overall width of the hall is such that the required Lateral Fraction can be achieved also without electro-acoustic enhancement.
The Main Rehearsal hall is conceived as the third stage of the National Concert Hall. Its surface of 300m² is the same as the stage of the Grand Hall. The acoustic of this hall has been designed to have the same Reverbation Time as the Grand hall.
The individual rehearsal rooms have variable acoustic surfaces, in order both to accommodate different instruments and groups, but also to give individual musicians some individual adjustment possibilities.
UNITY IN DIVERSITY
At the heart of the building, the complementarity of the different halls make possible the creation of a wide range of representations such as concerts, opera, theatre, conference meetings, etc.
The Grand Hall, a precise acoustical jewel sculpted for classical music, can host from 1500 to 1700 seats. The Small Hall, with its 500-seats-blackbox concept, can be easily adjusted for recitals, conferences and much more. Finally, the Rehearsal Hall, with its natural acoustics regulated on those of the Grand Hall, offers a third independant and autonomous space for music.
All halls, being acoustically independant and with each their own access, can be used at the same time. This layout maximizes the possibilities of uses and flexibility in time, creating a true multi-purpose cultural centre for the city, ready to host local as well as international events, concerts and conventions.