The site location and the hill itself tell an important story and have a strong link to Lithuanian history and culture. It is important that the Nations House truly reflects the countries values and becomes a symbol for people of Lithuania and of an idea that was born more than a century ago. We believe it is important to envision the site as something that embraces people’s everyday life, and creates a well-functioning urban assembly with the other cultural and public spaces in the area around Tauras Hill.
We believe it is important that everybody in the country and in Vilnius can relate to the Nations House and wants to experience Tauras Hill landscape: It is inviting, accessible and welcoming for all Lithuanians and interested visitors.
While visiting Tauras Hill one really gets the feeling that he is in a special place of the city. Surrounded by buzzing traffic on the bottom of the hill you can escape the city and enjoy the greenery on top. However, the circulation on the north side of the hill does not include well accessible routes nor more defined landscape features to attract people or let them have a purpose of staying on the hill. Once on top of the hill you might find yourself gazing at the horizon of Vilnius, including the Gediminas avenue, Neris River and the business district on the other side of the river. However, on the south side of the park the visual connection disappears since the existing Trade Unions House has become the physical and mental barrier. The building itself has some impressive architectural components such as the stained-glass windows and the massive pillars. It clearly shows it’s back towards the south evangelical cemetery which is now being used as a green park. The top of the hill is vibrant depending on the weather and the season. The hill slope offers great potential for activities during all four seasons. Unfortunately, most people currently access the top of the hill with their private cars which disturbs the experience of the park and discourages other people from accessing the hill by more sustainable means of transport.
The only option to get to the hill by public transport is by walking from the bus/trolleybus stops which are situated on the south and west sides of the site. It is important to make the hill easier accessible for bicycle and public transport so that the hill and the Nations House become more inclusive.
TOWN PLANNING CONCEPT & APPROACH
1.Strengthen ‘’Šnipiškės – Naujamiestis Green Axis’’.
It is important that we create a place that attracts people. In order to achieve this goal, we want to establish good links to major places within Vilnius.
The business district and the northern riverfront of Neris connect to the southern side of Neris River through ‘’The white bridge’’. The connection continues through Lukiškės square which is currently undergoing a major upgrade. Our axis is continued through Aukų street where greenery replaces vehicle parking and encourages people to walk and bike. Aukų street can be developed together with the existing ‘’Occupation and Freedom’’ museum which could use the streetscape as an interactive exhibition space.
The upgraded Aukų Street continues over the busy Pamėnkalnio steet through a shared surface. This slows down the traffic and leads pedestrians safely to Pamėnkalnio bus stop on the Tauras Hill side of the road. We propose to move the existing bus stop to the east side of the existing building. The new Pamėnkalnio bus stop incorporates a shelter and bike parking.
Different landscape solutions are incorporated into Tauras Hill to make it an attractive park with clusters of smaller spaces and various landscape qualities. The main connections in the park should lead the visitors towards the hill’s epicenter – the ‘’Nations House’’.
The new building will not become a barrier but is going to allow the continuation of the green axis further through the evangelical cemetery, Orthodox Church and VGTU mechanical faculty.
2. Develop ‘’ Senamiestis – Vingio Parkas Axis’’
Tauras Hill is located very close to the Old town of Vilnius. However, currently the site is framed with the heavily trafficked Tauro Street on the East side prohibiting smooth pedestrian and cyclist connection. The barrier is eliminated through the introduction of a pedestrian and cyclist bridge which connects P.Cvirkos square and Tauras Hill. The east- west connection leads people from the old town through the site and links to the Z. Sierakausko – V. Kudirkos street junction and VU Medical Faculty in the West. This axis can continue further to Vingis Park. It is crucial to offer well accessible connections in order to encourage everyone to experience Tauras Hill and its surroundings.
3. Create all-inclusive hill – access and program.
Lithuania is a small country. The biggest resource is its people: their knowledge, skillfulness and ambition are valued around the world. Having that in mind, Vilnius lacks public spaces and public buildings that provide young and old with inspirational environments to create, invent and make ideas come true. The recently completed national library provides people with such a multi-functional environment to gather and learn from one another. The success of this space shows that those environments are highly sought after and appreciated by the public.
It is important that Tauras Hill together with the Nations House provide flexible and open multipurpose functions. These functions activate the hill and make it a new vibrant place in Vilnius.
Furthermore, the hill is welcoming and becomes accessible for everybody without excluding disabled or older people. This means that the transport scheme, landscape and building design are crucial for the positive experience of the hill.
Tautos namai consist of 7 main parts: southern service building, northern public building, big hall – Perkūnkalnis (Thunder Hill), small hall – Moliakalnis (Clay Hill), the basement level, a public staircase and a public roof – Tautos kiemas (Nations Yard).
1. Southern service building
The service building incorporates the management, office and service functions. It is designed in a simple and straightforward way in order not to compete with the public building or the halls. Inside the west wing of the building we have allocated office spaces for 50 people that can be reached through the main entrance on the western facade. Through the ceiling-high glazing natural light flows into the rooms and the office workers have clear views towards the central meeting space/bus stops. Loading bays and delivery infrastructure is situated in the southern part of the building. The space in front of the south façade is covered by a pedestrian bridge connecting the evangelic church park to the building. Delivery trucks and service vehicles drive from Tauro Street in the east of the site to this vast space to serve the Nations House. Here the drivers can navigate the vehicles, dock to the loading bays, unload or load material, turn around and leave the same way they arrived. As the space is covered, material can even be off- and onloaded outside the bays. Furthermore, this sheltered space is used by TV-trucks for the broadcasting of live events. In the eastern part of the building next to the loading bays are all the facilities in terms of delivery, storage and workshops. The delivered material for the stages and events is handled and managed on the ground floor level before required equipment is sent down with an elevator and further transported to the stage area or to the restaurant.
2. Northern public building
The public building makes up the open space which surrounds the small and big hall and offers space for all the public functions. The volume encloses the two halls on the elevated upper floor and the big hall on the ground floor. The masses envelop is made out of a glazed curtain wall where vertical lamellas are added on the outside. They are used as shading device and can be adjusted according to the needs. The vertical rhythm of the lamellas is in balance with the strong horizontal emphasis of the volume and together they reach a unity which adds to the character of the Nations House.
The main entrance to the public building is found on the ground floor between the halls where it is sheltered by the upper floor. When entering one stands in the lobby and is greeted by a friendly face at the reception desk. Here one can ask for information or buy tickets. Like the reception, other functions are incorporated into the shell of the halls and face the open space of the public building. On the ground floor different cloakrooms and toilets as well as a bar in the north-east part can be used. Furthermore, one finds the entrances to the big hall on this level. The whole ground floor is used as foyer/lobby for all event spaces.
To the left of the reception a big public staircase leads to the upper floor where the main public functions are placed. Different library facilities in the south-east, an exhibition and commercial space in the south-centre as well as different kinds of working spaces, meetings rooms, toilets and a spacious restaurant in the north east offer a wide range of services. From this upper floor one has an unobstructed view towards the Vilnius skyline in the north which certainly adds to the dinner experience. The small hall is accessed in the north-west of this floor. The necessary installations like kitchen, toilets, storage space and technical installations are incorporated within the shell of the halls and are fix in their size. Contrary to those fixed rooms, the idea of the vast open space is to offer possibilities to rearrange, enlarge or reduce functions according to the needs. For example, tables can be added or taken away from the restaurant or an exhibition encompassing the whole space can be arranged instead of only using a restricted part of the room. Another special feature is the possibility close the shading lamellas which would allow for another, darker experience of the space where media and light shows could tell stories. There is freedom to test and program this space.
3. Big hall
The stage is set for great orchestral performances in the big hall! The organic volume is placed on the north-eastern part of the site and is enclosed by the public building. The shape as well as the wooden surface stand out in comparison to the subtle materials and forms of the surroundings. It is the precious heart of the Nations House.
Access to Perkūnkalnis is granted from the lobby on the ground floor which can be entered from the central meeting space in between the halls. After entering the public building the guests are facing the reception from where they are guided towards the three cloakrooms which are situated to the left and right of the reception. Passing the cloakrooms on both sides one gets to the restrooms whereas the bar is set at the north-east end of the public building. There the guests can get a drink and socialize before heading through one of the four entrance doors where staff is checking the tickets and pointing the spectators towards their places. If you bought a ticket for one of the two balcony levels the personnel tells you to head up the stairs which lay here, between the outer and inner shell of the hall. Otherwise just head straight to the main seating area of the big hall. Added on the east side of the hall is a separate core with elevator and emergency staircase.
The spectator space is divided into five areas: parterre centre, parterre north wing, parterre south wing, balcony 1 and balcony 2. Parterre centre is slightly stepping down towards the stage whereas the wings to the north and south keep their elevated height in relation to the stage. The balconies are each 5m above the space below them.
The hall is held in a dark tone in order not to distract from the happenings on the stage. Burnt wood on the walls and dark acoustic panels on the ceiling give the main impression. A slightly brighter wooden flooring, a little brighter stage environment and seating upholstering in different shades of grey contrast slightly to the walls. A special feature is the skylight which is set above the stage. When not closed it brings in natural light which bounces back into the hall from the mirroring upper side of the reflector. Besides adjusting the sound environment the reflector has a distinguished disk shape and works as a sculpture in itself.
4. Small hall
The small hall is an event space for any kind of performances from panel discussions, presentations and lectures to concerts, musicals and theater plays anything is possible. The organic volume is placed on the north-western part of the site. While it is enclosed by the public building on the upper floor, it stands outdoors on the ground floor. Its outer shell is made out of dark brick which can withstand the outdoor conditions. This rougher surface is continued on the upper floor as a contrast to the fine finish of the big hall and the quite finishes of the public building. The small hall is the fun and experimental space of the Nations House.
As with the big hall in order to get to the small hall one first has to enter the lobby space on the ground floor where reception/information, cloakrooms, restrooms and a bar are placed. The idea is to use this lobby as a meeting place for people waiting to go to the different halls/events. Once the event in Moliakalnis is about to start people walk up the public staircase to the upper floor where the hall can be accessed on the northern side through two main doors.
The standard setting for the spectator space is a steep arena where two staircase on either side of the hall lead down to the different rows. Alternatively the hall can be rearrange to level the space on the height of the ground floor. This allows for a wide array of settings and events.
As the hall is called Moliakalnis (“clay hill”) we want the interior of the hall to reflect the earthy and grounded tone of clay. We will use actual clay boards for walls and ceiling as they also work as acoustic panels. On the wall the boards form a pixelated pattern to deflect and absorb the soundwaves. The floor is kept in a neutral grey screed which is complemented through the lightly upholstered seats in different grey tones.
5. Basement Level
The basement is split into two distinctly different parts: the underground parking under the service building in the southern part and the stage/backstage area in the north. While the underground parking is reserved mainly for the staff of the service building, the northern part belongs to the performers and technicians. Material for the stages is delivered through an elevator which ends up in the underground garage. From there he material is taken further to the backstage area where wide corridors allow easy handling and direct access to both hall backstage areas and storage spaces. Additionally, one can enter the different sized rehearsal rooms which are located in the centre space between the halls. Performers and staff either enter the basement trough the underground parking if they arrive with a car or they use one of the secondary staircases that lead from the ground level to the basement. The dressing rooms for all the entertainers are located in the calmer northernmost and westernmost part of the basement. The stages of both halls are also set on this level which eases the logistical handling of stage props and instruments besides being in comfortable distance of the dressing rooms.
The dominant material within the basement is concrete. In the dressing rooms it is possible to add warmer materials and colors depending on later wishes. The rehearsal rooms are clad in acoustic panels in order to get a good sound environment.
6. Public roof
In order to add to the greenery of the park we decided to put greenery on top of the building roofs. The roof of the service building is used as an extension of the evangelical church park, while the roof of the public building is working as an observatory and a green gathering place, where people can meet, play and experience the Vilnius skyline in 360-degree angle.
7. Connecting staircase
The roof of the public building is accessed through a public staircase which starts from the service building roof and is facing south. Integrated concrete seating elements offer a nice and sunny place to enjoy an elevated view towards the south. The integrated water feature adds to the experience. The U-shape wooden frame of the staircase protects the seating area from wind coming from north, east and west directions.
Key parameters of the National Concert Hall
Total area of the building 17 225 m²
Footprint of the building 7 260 m²
The maximum building height 25 m
No. of the Grand hall seats 1650
Grand hall area 2 320m²
No. of the Small hall seats 525
Small hall area 745 m²