St. Petersburg-based architecture firm Rhizome has been announced the winner of the international competition for the renovation concept of Dostoevsky Drama Theater in Veliky Novgorod, in northwestern Russia.
Built in 1987, the famous late Soviet modernist structure was designed by architect Vladimir Somov. Often compared to a spaceship, the building features unique architecture with distinctive facades, arches, and ramps. Despite being a modernist icon, the original design of the theater sought to resonate with the medieval architecture of Veliky Novgorod—a city of immense importance for Russian culture and a UNESCO heritage site.
Comparing the theater to a vibrant city, Rhizome proposes to make it more interconnected by opening up spaces that used to be closed off to the public. Linking the old and new functional blocks, they want to create a single coherent space.
“Such permeability allows for greater transparency and lets visitors immerse themselves into the life of the theater,” the architects said in a statement.
One of the key ideas of the project is to improve communication between the city and the theater in order to transform it into an important center of urban life. The solution is achieved by integrating a series of advanced technological solutions into the new and existing structures.
Sixteen teams took part in the competition. The jury consisting of Russian and international experts shortlisted three offices—Archiproba, Rhizome, and Form. The finalists had to create a concept design for the renovation of the theater under the guidance of Roger Watts, director of Haworth Tompkins studio (UK), who has been involved in many notable performance arts projects including the Royal Court Theater in London.
Archiproba’s proposal focuses on creating a harmonious complex; an open and attractive venue to welcome locals and architecture fans from across the globe. The project repositions the theater as one of the main attractions of the city, providing it with advanced new features and functions, and making it relevant for generations to come.
The concept developed by Form draws on the notion of “total theater,” originally proposed by Vladimir Somov. Comprehensive scenography envelopes the theater and its surroundings, every space morphs into the next one, and the entire building becomes a “free and total stage.”
The competition was initiated by the government of the Novgorod Region and operated by Strelka KB, with the support of DOM.RF and Acron.
More details are available on the competition’s website: eng.theatre-novgorod.ru