Arvo Pärt Centre
Architect: AZPML
Status: Competition (2014)
Visualizer: Berga & González
Budget: 3.500.000 €
Scale: 1.600 ㎡ Medium
Ratio: 2.187,50 €/㎡
Types: Cultural, Cultural center, Music school

Intensifying the Sensorial

The Arvo Pärt Centre will be an instrument to make the landscape sing.

The Northern Estonian Forest is full of music: the sorrow of the Southern wind, the crackling of the branches, the whispering of the leaves, the screeching of the swallows, the silence of the snow…  Perhaps the remote singing of a Runic tune… The Baltic singing traditions are inevitably linked to the Estonian nature, and the Arvo Pärt Centre should become an opportunity to evidence that relation, to make it physical.

But the Laumatsaala’s forest is not just the sounds. It is also the winter’s sun’s raking glare, filtering through the pine trees, the luminescence of the night sky during the Northern Lights, the springy stepping on the foliage, the glittering of the sun over the sea, the whiteness of the snow, the teardrops of melting ice, the profiles of the clouds, the endless nights, the blaring sunrise, the blossoming of the daffodils… There is a whole phenomenology of light, form and color that the Arvo Pärt Centre will seek to intensify.

One of the most distinctive qualities of Arvo Pärt’s music is its systematic composition which is driven towards effect, rather than to detail. Unlike other contemporary minimalists, interested in the texture and the detail of the composition, Pärt’s music uses similar compositional techniques while seeking an impression, an affect. This is not technique for the sake of it, but to produce a sensation.

Our project is ultimately aimed at the intensification of sensations: to create a chamber of resonance for the energies of matter, sonic or luminic. Sound and light are ultimately vibrations, rhythms of matter, waves, corpuscules, bouncing on other matters, occupying them, reflecting, refracting, crossing… Like Arvo Pärt’s music, the Centre poses some fundamental questions that have been there since the origins of mankind: Is the wild orgy of sensations in nature the effect of a contingent and ever-changing recombination of matters? Or is there an underlying order, perhaps the manifestation of a higher form of intelligence?

From Physical to Metaphysical

Arvo Pärt’s music elevates the sensorial to a transcendental, unifying experience. The Arvo Pärt Centre will seek to transcend the sensorial perception and its phenomenal experience, and project it towards a trans-subjective, essential state, akin to the circularity of Pärt’s work. The appearance of stasis, both in Pärt’s work and in the Centre, exposes the more meaningful movements that occur within, the subtle changes in tonality, rhythm, texture. Pärt’s compositions create a sort of mythic time, in which experiences of past, present, and future amalgamate into a single one. We move constantly between the sensorial to the phenomenal to the ontological.

Pärt’s music tendencies to a spatial circular experience probably arises from the physical or somatic associations of sound being diffused throughout large orthodox churches and cathedrals, where one becomes surrounded by a continuity of sound which is non-localized and tends to fill the reverberant space.  The Arvo Pärt Centre will have to create the conditions to produce a space where sound and light reverberate. The large volumes of air for every room in the complex are aimed to produce this very effect of reverberation. The slanted surfaces in the roof will contribute decisively to produce a diffuse, yet precise, sonic environment.

But it will not be only a sonic environment, but also a visual one, where the direct views of the forest are combined with reflected views, which bring views which are not possible without the building itself, which will enable unprecedented glimpses of the forest. The slanted roofs will also capture the raking sun inside of the different rooms, producing a luminescent environment, an intensification of the Northern light.

In Arvo Pärt compositions both perceptual and phenomenal worlds arise as a result of reduction, stasis, and the evocative possibilities of automatic phenomena.  Laumatsaala’s nature is for the Arvo Pärt’s Centre building, the source of automatic phenomena which are transformed and magnified by the building: capturing the sunrise and sunset light inside of the rooms, watching the clouds in the ceiling, framing the view of the forest…  Arvo Pärt’s Centre is a magnifying mirror of Laumatsaala’s nature.

Tuning of Traditional Typologies; Textural Consistence and Repetition

While Arvo Pärt music is undeniably global, both in spirit and clientele, its roots are quintessentially Estonian, based on the Runic songs and the Baltic singing traditions. Pärt’s music blends the rigors of serialism and dodecaphonic composition with traditional Estonian choral music. This project is an effort to thread those two aspects of Arvo Pärt’s work into a piece of architecture that mediates with the local landscape and architectural precedents.

The building is based on the varied repetition of a unit which has been distilled from the traditional Estonian farm, a four-gable pavilion roof, where two gables are extended in order to produce vertical skylights.  This basic unit will be scaled and stretched up or down in order to optimize its acoustic or luminic performance to the different functions in the complex. In the upper casquet of the ceiling a mirrored surface will be installed, in order to reflect the light of the sun and the views of the forest at a high level. The clerestory will work both as a light trap and as a periscope, looking at the forest on the ceiling of the rooms.

By making the pitch of the roof higher, we will increase the volume of the space, changing its acoustic performance, but perhaps also enlarging the daylight ingress through the skylight. Depending of how do we orient the skylight, we will capture the light of the sunrise or the sunset, or noon. It is precisely the similarity between the different parts of the building is what will help to perceive the subtle differences between the different rooms. Like in a gothic town or in a church, there is a very rigorous typological system that is adjusted to varying conditions of light, acoustic resonance, views, temperature, volume of space…

A library does not sound like an exhibition room, an archive has very different luminance conditions than an auditorium. But also, one does not look the same at the forest from a private room than from a cafeteria. The building becomes a device that mobilizes different material qualities and intensify their sensation: the amount and quality of natural daylight, the temperature variation, the acoustic reverberation, the air flow through the rooms…  We will be in fact able to “tune” the building, both acoustically and visually. Rather than “composed”, this will be a “tuned” building.

The different tuning options are:

– Scale of space. The footprint of the room can be varied in order to accommodate program.
– Pitch of the roof gables. The slope of the gables can be altered in order to gain volume internally. Volume and angle of the roof will have an effect on the acoustics of the spaces and the air ventilation.
– Size of the clerestory. The size of the clerestory will affect the light intake and the views to the forest, reflected on the ceiling. This can be controlled by displacing the clerestory plane closer and further to the peak of the roof. The closer it is to the peak, the smaller is the skylight, the further, the bigger.
– Orientation of the clerestory. The orientation of the clerestory will affect both the daylight intake and the quality of light. Being oriented to the north or to the south will provide an entirely different effect, both luminic and environmental. East or West orientation will be equally influential on daylight and solar gains. In some cases the units can have a double fronted clerestory N/S and E/W. This will increase luminance but will reduce substantially the “periscope effect”
– Openings of the walls. Depending of the number/scale of the openings, the rooms will have a more or less intense relation to the forest, by framing different views to the forest or enabling users to walk outside.

Competition: Arvo Pärdi Keskuse | Team: Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Maider Llaguno, Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, Manuel Eijo, Iñigo Arrien, Pablo de Sola | Model maker: Atelier La Juntana | Post date: 06/07/2014 | Views: 4.674