The Tuomo Center for Creative Technologies

The Tumo Center for Creative Technologies is a free-of-charge digital media learning hub. It is located in a structure, which was initially built in the 1850s as the former Gyumri opera house. The 2500 s.q.m center is housed in the rehabilitated edifice, to which a number of additions were grafted.

The Gyumri Theater is one of the city’s historical relics. It has undergone several alterations to serve various programs ranging from a People’s House, during the soviet times, to a local television-broadcasting center… Our intervention consists of reconfiguring the Gyumri Theater building into interactive learning platforms and performance spaces, while celebrating the center’s activities and its relationship with the surroundings. The southern and eastern facades of the building, initially constructed in local turfa stone and finished in white plaster, are restored, whereas all other facades and additions are resolutely visible, rendered in a vibrant red color, contrasting against the monochromatic palette of the surrounding cityscape.

The scheme emphasizes the impact it will have on the social and cultural fabric of the city by connecting it to the existing public spaces in a gesture that reconciles the differing topographic levels it addresses. The main student spaces are located on the ground floor level, accessible from the eastern façade at the lower park level, whereas all other public functions such as the main lobby, administration and public amphitheater are accessed at the upper street level along the western façade, from the roof of the ground floor space. Designed as an interactive public space including an imposing arch, bar and common gathering spaces, the roof acts as connection between the interior and exterior activities that can occur, tucked below a grand canopy whose mirrored underside reflects the vibrant happenings of the center to the surrounding city. The public amphitheater is exposed at the upper level, exteriorizing the complex’s interior content through outdoor projections.

The Gyumri Theater rehabilitation and the implementation scheme of the Tumo Center for creative technologies was a collaborative exercise between the architecture studio of Bernard Khoury / DW5, the center’s team of technicians, engineers and local artisans. From the concept to the execution stages, this close and continuous collaboration led to establishing design strategies that took full advantage of the local know-how. The ability of homegrown building artisans to transform conventional construction techniques by proposing highly inventive and adaptable production tactics made it possible for us to develop very specific solutions for most construction trades while minimizing the reliance on imported methods and materials of construction. These included specific masonry works, the manufacturing of the structural components and the design and fabrication of special furniture and smaller scale items.