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Piano to convert Moscow power station into arts centre

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Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) has been chosen to transform Moscow’s disused GES2 power station into a new two hectare cultural venue

Planned to compete in 2019, the scheme for contemporary art promoter VAC Foundation will create a new multi-disciplinary venue within Moscow’s Red October cultural district.

The GES2 project will restore the 1907 plant overlooking the Moskva River and create a new public piazza featuring a small birch tree forest. Two iconic chimneys will also be retained and used for natural ventilation.  

RPBW’s design divides the site into three separate areas – covering welcoming, exhibitions and education – known as ‘poles’.

The ‘welcoming pole’ will feature an outdoor sculpture area, library, bookshop, café, auditorium and permanent exhibitions space.

The ‘exhibitions pole’ will host GES2’s main galleries – including a 100 metre long and 23 metre high ‘central nave’.

A permanent home for V-A-C’s annual curatorial summer school will meanwhile feature within the ‘education pole’ alongside classrooms and an artist residency block.

According to a VAC statement:  ‘To make the experience as friendly as possible, RPBW aims to develop the entire space in a clear and legible way so that the visitor can be guided purely by his or her own intuition, without the need for a map or plan.’

The statement continued: ‘The new GES2 structure will be surrounded by a natural amphitheatre created by a new topography raised on three sides of the site, to be used as a seating area for film screenings and events, especially during summer when the garden will become an open-air cinema.’

Named after a gargantuan red-brick former chocolate factory, the pedestrianized Red October district has become a seedbed for new cafés, shops and start-ups.

Nearby attractions include the iconic 1931 Udarnik Theatre and Moscow’s Strelka Institute for art and urbanism.

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