Unfolding NPAK - Centre for Contemporary Art

Unfolding NPAK - Centre for Contemporary Art

Yerevan, Armenia | View Map
Project Year
Art Galleries

Cultural Centres


NPAK Ontvouwd - kunstcentrum in Armenië

KANTOOR as Architects

Unfolding NPAK – KANTOOR receives Jury-Mention for renovation proposal for the Armenian Centre of Contemporary Experimental Art.

KANTOOR, a Colombian-Dutch architecture studio based in Beijing, proposes an intervention to open up the Armenian Centre of Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK). A new building volume wraps around the building and cuts through the site to open up the building to the city and create new public spaces in both interior and exterior. 

Yerevan has a long history of multiple nationalities, religions and ethnicities residing in the current land of Armenia, all leaving behind a piece of their culture.  Simultaneously a large number of diaspora live outside of Armenia bringing the Armenian culture abroad while keeping a strong connection to the motherland. The complex and layered history of Armenia is the key point to this design proposal. In a city in which urban and political landscape is changing while the traces of history are always present an intervention has been made to the NPAK building while embracing the existing architecture and history of the contemporary art centre.

Located in between the Vernissage flea market on the North and the 33rd District Development Area on the South, the NPAK building is a transition point between the conserved and redeveloping city. ‘Unfolding NPAK’ a proposal by KANTOOR, adds a new layer to the Art Centre in the shape of an additional building volume along the existing façade.  The roof landscape creates a route around the building, into the new public spaces and up to the top levels where a large window both on the South and North façade exposes the city to the visitor.

The new building volume provides for additional area and new program elements. The artist residences are located on the ground floor of the additional volume to create a direct interaction with the public. The new alleyway along the building can be used as an outdoor extension of the artist workshops, to expose the art to the public and form a natural continuation from the flea market across the street.

The paths created through the site connect different parts of the city and draw people onto the site and into the building. Slopes and staircases are combined with greenery and art to create a sculpture garden connecting the main public functions. The garden extends onto the roof of the West wing of the building where it becomes a semi-enclosed roof garden embedded in the neighbouring building volume. The roof garden is directly connected to the café and reading room on the floor below. A staircase leads you down or up while roof openings create small courtyards to bring light and vegetation into the café and reading room.

The roof landscape continues into the building where it becomes an interior landscape creating an atrium which doubles as exhibition and lecture hall. A glass roof brings in the light while exposing the structure of the building. The large round window in the South façade becomes an eye towards the rapidly developing city behind. A projection screen in front of the window can be used to expose projections to both the interior and the exterior. A public exhibition hall accessible from the atrium is located in the highest level where the statue Melancholy of Yervand Kochar is exposed to the city while the city is exposed to the visitor from a large square window.

A two level theatre is accessed from the atrium. The top floor consists of a ticket check, technical room and balcony with seating while the main seating area, stage, back corridor and dressing room are located on the lower level. The half circle shaped windows on the North façade can be covered or exposed with a full height curtain on the back wall of the stage. This way the space can be adapted for different events in day and night time.

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