Ciurlionis Concert Center / by Karim Nader

Bird's-eye view towards the left bank.

A roof, a bridge, and the warmth within. A concert center as a decrescendo, stepping down towards the park. Music in harmony with the elegant skyline of Kaunas, so remarkably deep and earthy in its warm shades contrasting with the green of the surrounding vegetation and the blues of the overflowing Nemunas. 

Within, two enigmatic objects mysteriously glow behind the structural rhythm of the facades. A hint to the preciousness and lyricism of the music of Čiurlionis, and witnesses of a left bank seeking a metamorphosis from its industrial past towards the artistic and the cultural. Then, from right to left bank, a new pedestrian bridge, also in rusty brown connecting to the Science Center Island and the old city beyond.

A proposal midway between factory and castle, the concert center as a ghost ship is now moored in permanence while eagerly waiting for the next flood.

Situation Plan

Approach from the river Nemunas.


A line of harmonies. The palette is extracted from the natural context, its genius artist, as well as contemporary and historical architectural references. 

The project extends and reconnects existing flows: pedestrians and bikers strolling on the riverbank branch left and right as they approach the ghost ship: on the street side, they reach a lower flood-able piazza with musical water jets while on the riverside, flood-able pools with a boarding deck and the bridge towards the Science Island. 

In between, a ‘landform’ smoothly rises up from the park surface and merges back down as an outdoor amphitheater. From the street, a gentle ramp rises up towards the foyer while two mineral staircases connect to the lower piazza left and right.

Materially, the concert center is a rusted metal structure. The suspended glazing system, as transparent as possible, is an abstracted minuet by Čiurlionis while the halls within attempt to envelop music in the curvilinearity of their birch wood ribbons. 

Transversal Section.

Longitudinal Section.

Main Foyer.

Like in a Čiurlionis symphony, there will be measure contrasted by moments of lyricism. 

Main Concert Hall.

The main hall, designed for optimal acoustic performance without amplification, allows in a vineyard seating style for proximity towards the stage while preserving maximum flexibility. Its gold interior, inspired from the painting “Friendship” subtly contrasts with the birch exterior. Three balcony levels allow for an enveloping experience that can accommodate a choir or orchestra pit (for theatre) and an operable skylight above the main seating lets in an elevated glow that reasserts our aspiration towards the transcendent.

Acoustic Studies.

Acoustic Studies.

The design of the main hall follows the vineyard style. The stage size compared to the hall surface is large, allowing for maximum intimacy between performers and listeners. It also allows for the perception of orchestra depth, a highly desirable and rare acoustic effect. The hall also contains operable acoustic volumes to control low frequency energy. 

In the lobby, a suspended glass “Ruta Graveolens” provides a sonic reflector designed to scatter sound energy across the lobby floor. The ceiling is made up of slotted steel elements, creating an acoustic surface enhancing the sonic environment of the lobby. 

The secondary hall is characterised by its multitude of functions. Designed to have maximum configurations, a large operable facade opens as an acoustic reflector to the outside seating, while movable elements on the walls serve as sound absorbers or diffusers depending on the function of the space. 

Black Box.

As for the secondary hall, its interior is a three dimensional black grid that allows for multiple configurations including nine mobile floors and balcony. The volume can double as a stage for the outdoor amphitheater via an operable door that becomes an acoustic reflector. Its proximity to the conference center also allows for maximum interaction.

Secondary Hall Flexibility Diagrams.

Exploded Axonometric View.

Flood Responsiveness Diagrams.

Flood Responsiveness Diagrams.

Night View Towards the Left Bank.

Ode for a flood, the ship responds to water from all surrounds, and as the dusk breaks, reflects its rusty pitches and structural rhythms on river and street sides while the mound slightly protrudes. 

Reminiscing an arriving to the castle, the spectators of the night walk up the ramp above the flooded piazza for an extraordinary performance of the unfinished symphonic poem: “The Creation of the World.”

Project Status: Competition Entry.

Project Team: Karim Nader with Christy Layous, Elie Christian Naameh, Racha Doughman, Nadine Abdulsalam, Karim Nasser, Mario Khouri.

Acoustic Studies by 21db Acoustic Solutions

Landscape Design by Atelier Hamra

Sustainability by Seeds