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View from Within: A House for Music

Maria Bunina

Building Blocks Of Business Supplement, 24.02.2009

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Until the construction in 2002 of Dom Muzyka (House of Music) in Moscow there were only two large philharmonic halls — the large hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, converted in 1940 from the uncompleted Vsevoloda Meierkhold Theatre. At the end of the 1990s the government of Moscow made a decision to construct a new philharmonic hall, which would be capable of competing with the best concert halls in the world.

Note in hi-tech style

The first stone in the foundations of the future building was laid by Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov and famous conductor Vladimir Spivakov on Krasnokholmsky Island on September 7, 2000, and two years later the premises was put into operation. Construction was conducted by Turkish company Enka.

The architectural designers of the project were the Krasniye Kholmy Russian Cultural-business Centre and Tovarishestvo Teatralniy Arkhitekturov (Company of Theatrical Architects): Yury Gnedovsky, Vladilen Krasilnikov, Dmitry Solopov, Margarita Gavrilova, Sergey Gnedovsky. At the XI All-Russian Zodchestvo (Architecture) festival, the Dom Muzyka project was awarded an architectural «Oscar» — the Khrustalny Dedal architectural award.

The round Dom Muzyka building, made of glass and steel with a treble clef on the roof and constructed in hi-tech style has been developed on the side of the Garden ring. This has become one of the main elements of the large building. In a addition to a theatre-concert complex with three halls, there is a sound studio, a rehearsal hall, an audio-video complex, an exhibition hall a hall of light, music rooms, the Allegro restaurant, a Bluthner music room, a summer patio called the Music Terrace and another concert hall for 120 people.

Under a weather vane

Dom Muzyka consists of four buildings measuring a total of almost 42,000 sq.m, and has a height of more than 46 m. In total the complex has 10 above ground floors and two underground levels. The basement levels are allocated for parking.

The round building is completely glazed. The glass allows for natural light to shine into the vestibule, foyer, and stairs and to open up views of the Moscow River and the city's landscape, especially from the top gallery-foyers. The transparent facades of Dom Muzyka have been constructed using the principle of counterpoints to the other constructions of the Krasniye Kholmy complex. The third hall (theatre hall) with 500-550 seats was added later to the initial program of construction of two concert halls with 1,800 seats (symphony hall) and 600 seats (Chamber hall). The chamber hall is located under the symphony hall and the theatre hall is in a separate block. The halls are separated from the ground by special vibration insulative neoprene elements, which extinguish any vibrations from traffic on the roads.

The main premises of Dom Muzyka is the symphony hall, which ca be entered from two levels. The main entrance is located at the level of the roof of the podium. Visitors walk the steps from the garden ring into a large foyer from which it is possible to enter the symphony hall or the winter garden. Steel pipes with lit inserts of glass act as a pylon (support) to the gantry of the main entrance. Below is the car park. From this level visitors can get to all three halls through a separate lobby. This entrance has been emphasized by the architects by increasing the span between the columns and designing a framed porch way. The composition is completed with a conic chandelier.

The dome of Dom Muzyka is crowned with a weather vane — in the shape of a treble clef designed by the well-known Zurab Tsereteli. The design is 9.5 m tall and weighs almost 2 tonnes. The key and leaves are covered in mosaic gold. The heavy weathervane rotates thanks to a special rolling mechanism. It was installed on the roof with a helicopter. The diameter of the dome from the solid ferroconcrete structure is about 50 m. The part of the dome that sticks out from the dome itself by 7.5 m is made from steel triangular forms, which are attached to a planimetric ring. Under the dome there are load bearing beams and acoustic boards. Dmitry Ivanchenko, a leading analyst at consulting company RRG considers Dom Muzyka «architecturally attractive.» In his opinion, the combination of glass and metal makes the building easy on the eye despite its significant size. «There is a good combination of functionality and the external image,» the expert says.

In today’s Moscow, Dom Muzyka differs from many new buildings. It is a modern and beautiful building though you cannot say it is unique from an architectural point of view, says Nadezhda Pobedina, creative director at Kapital Group. But, without a doubt, it sets a certain dominant, as an element of the Krasniye Kholmy complex.

Today in the world, the architectural shapes of buildings with a similar purpose vary greatly, argues Marina Rezvova, assistant to the general director of real estate holding Krost. Technologically complex engineering designs allow for a large amount of stainless steel to be used, and make the construction of multipurpose halls possible, showing the progress of engineering innovations. As examples she names Yorn Utzon's Sydney Opera House (with a roof shaped like waves or the sail of a ship), and Parco della Musica in Rome by architect Renzo Piano. These buildings with their diagonal and curvilinear lines break space and shapes, expressing ideas of expressionism, she continues.

Rezvova agrees with the original idea of the facade in the form of a body, but the building, including the treble clef on the roof reminds her of the common round glass buildings of Mercedes dealers which are common in both Russia and the world. «On the other hand, in this case a very important component is the acoustics. In fact, no one criticizes the architecture of the Tchaikovsky concert hall,» she sums up.

«Intelligent building»

During the last few years, the phrase «intelligent building» has been added to development slang. Dom Muzyka, in Rezvova's opinion, is such a building. Dom Muzyka has fire prevention, fire protection, video observation, ventilation, air-conditioning and heating systems installed. In the halls the optimum temperature of 20 degrees and air humidity of 50-60% is maintained.

The air conditioning system cools the air, adjusts the humidity and distributes the air throughout the whole premises. The heating system works by a similar principle, but heats the air. Receiving a signal from thermal gauges installed at various points in the premises, the system provides the demanded environment.

«I can say, not only as an expert, but also as a listener, that the main tasks from the point of view of engineering systems for the music halls in the complex have been completed successfully,» assures the technical director of the «intelligent buildings» department at Krok, Alexander Lasyi. The air circulation and ventilation system works absolutely silently, giving absolute listening pleasure at concerts. And the locations of the well-installed gauges provides perfect conditions for both visitors in the halls, and the foyer, the expert summarizes.

The «intelligent building» system, as experts mark, independently collects information on temperature, humidity, condition of air, level of light exposure and other parameters of the environment and microclimate and sends signals to the engineering equipment which corrects the current condition. All this allows for a reduction in the total costs for service and operation, provides comfort and raises the prestige of a building. Nevertheless even this system has disadvantages.

It is not enough to equip a building with modern equipment, but it is necessary to correctly operate and maintain this equipment, Rezvova says. «Unfortunately, as often happens, beautiful and clever design decisions are killed” by the illiterate approach of both builders and maintenance organizations,» she says. She considers the full absence of systems of navigation as a significant disadvantage of Dom Muzyka.


Dom Muzyka is located on Krasnokholmskaya strelka of Kremlin island between the Moscow river and Vodootvodny kanal. This small island is on the edge part of the historical Zamoskvorechye. From Shlyuzovaya Naberezhnaya through Vodootvodny kanal there is a footbridge leading to an arch in the «wall» of office buildings of RKTs. This is another way to Dom Muzyka. The bridge is simply designed, however the steel sheets attached under different corners make it a harmonious addition to the office and cultural center.

There is a project to construct a footbridge on the Moscow-river which would connect RKTs with Krasnokholmskaya Naberezhnaya and Novospassky monastery. Next to Dom Muzyka there is the Novospassky Most river mooring — the termination point for riverboats that go from the quay at Proletarskaya metro station to Kievsky vokzal. In the opinion of the press service at Dom Muzyka, it has a good location as you can reach it from the Garden Ring at Paveletsky vokzal, and from Kosmodamianskaya Naberezhnaya.

Dmitry Ivanchenko shares this opinion. He thinks that the building is located on one of the most important roads of the city, and within walking distance of Paveletskaya metro station and Paveletsky vokzal.

Transport accessibility is not considered great by many fans of music, Nadezhda Pobedina considers: the building is located on a narrow quay where often building or repair works are carried out. But this problem, perhaps, is characteristic for almost every building in the center of the capital, she says.

The complex is near the Garden Ring, one of the main transport arteries of Moscow, which theoretically allows motorists to easily reach any point of the city. However the area of Paveletsky vokzal and the junction to the complex from the Garden Ring is a common place for traffic jams, complains the head of the design department at Astera, Svetlana Yarova.

On the one hand, Dom Muzyka is close to the center, on the other, in this area there are constant problems with parking because of the narrow one-way streets, experts agree. Employees not only park on Kosmodamianskaya naberezhnaya and Shlyuzovaya naberezhnaya, but also on Ulitsa Kozhevnicheskaya, and other numerous side streets around, continues Yarova. The nearby subsoil waters of the Moscow river complicate the construction of underground car parks.

The customer and the investor of the project is the Moscow government, having invested about $75 million in it. As a whole, director of marketing of the Mercury City project, Irina Strizhkova characterizes Dom Muzyka as a project «doomed on success.» Strizhkova is assured: everything has been planned correctly. The choice of general constructor — Enka, in her opinion, is also not coincidence. «In those days Dom Muzyka was extremely profitable from the point of view of investment. But it is unlikely anyone would invest their own funds in it these days,» sums up Strizhkova.

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