Architecture – Renzo Piano has completed GES-2, a former power plant redeveloped into a vibrant open venue for visual and performing arts. Commissioned by the V-A-C Foundation by billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, the enormous 20,000 sqm new art centre hosts an artists residency block, an amphitheatre, an education centre and a library. The V-A-C collection includes artworks by Wassily Kandinsky, Gerhard Richter, Christopher Wool and more.
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“When thinking about what kind of building would be perfect to create a space for contemporary culture, a power station comes to mind immediately!” Said Italian architect Renzo Piano, head of RPBW.
Built between 1904 and 1908, the magnificent historical power station is located on the Red October, an island in the heart of the Russian capital that has been redeveloped into a cultural space for new generations. Red October already hosts a former biscuits factory turned into a container for start-ups, cafés and restaurants, the Strelka Institute, the redeveloped historic Udarnik Theatre and more.
Inside GES-2, the spaces and functions are organized into four major poles: The Civic pole consists of a combination of free access spaces and activities, and is open to the outdoor piazza to catch and bring in street life.
In the center, the “indoor Piazza” acts as the entrance and the beginning of the V-A-C experience. Connected to that, to the North stand the Library and media hub, and to the South, there are a free art installation space and a restaurant.
The Welcoming pole is located in the center of the main building and is accessible from the “indoor piazza”. This space contains multiple informal activities like ticketing, information, orientation and shop at the ground floor level.
Above, an open performance area with a seating deck is watching the “forest” – an enclosed auditorium is located in this area with separate access. The area also includes amenities like a café and snack bar on a mezzanine.
The Exhibition pole welcomes all the exhibitions. It is a combination of spaces of different sizes and heights, offering a multiplicity of space conditions to host any kind of artwork.
The Education pole takes a glimpse into the exhibitions; it includes the School of Art, dedicated to growing a new generation of art curators, critics and historians, and Lifelong Learning, with classrooms and workshops oriented to the general public.
Some artists’ residences with workshops located on the North tower are also part of this pole.
Four former brick chimneys have been replaced with steel chimneys. Thanks to a conscious sustainable approach, the new chimneys, from four polluting pipes, will become four essential sustainable devices, catching the cleanest air at a 70-meter altitude, activating natural ventilation and reducing energy consumption.
Nature will also be part of the project. Indeed, a “forest” of birches has been planted inside the museum. Thus, on the West portion of the site, a sculpture garden will progressively leave the place to hundreds of trees planted on a sculpted landscape.
GES-2 photos by © – Renders: courtesy of the V-A-C Foundation.
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