News / 29 December 2021


On November 27–28 the Orientation seminar for the finalists of the open international competition for development of an architectural concept for the Galiasgar Kamal Tatar State Academy Theatre took place in Kazan. The 22 finalists from Austria, Great Britain, Spain, Russia and Japan met with representatives of the Kamal Theater and other experts, explored the construction site of the new building and learned about the traditions and culture of Tatarstan.

One of the key points of the Orientation seminar was the tour of the construction site of the future building. The finalists were able to get a closer look at the location of the competition area and the site’s peculiarities. The experts talked about the visual dominants, the urban development vision of the area and transport links, since one of the main issues for the finalists is the development of public transport in the neighborhood of the new theater.

A working meeting in the Q&A format held in the Official Places of the Kazan Kremlin served as the framework to discuss the changes in the functional task following the requests of the architects. The finalists also got the chance to ask all their questions to the experts and representatives of the departments responsible for the future construction of the new theater building. The meeting was attended by Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova, chief director of the Kamal Theater Farid Bikchantaev, chief architect of Kazan Ilsiyar Tukhvatullina, assistant to the President of the Republic of Tatarstan and co-chairman of the expert council of the competition Natalia Fishman-Bekmambetova, director of the theater Ilfir Yakupov, co-author of the functional task for the new theatre building Maria Ignatieva and other specialists.

In his welcoming video message to the finalists, Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin noted, “Recent years in Tatarstan have been marked by the restart of cultural institutions – from regional houses of culture to the main Tatar theater and the capital’s largest library. Tatarstan is an advanced region of Russia in terms of supporting culture and developing the creative sector of the economy. The republic regularly acts as a pilot platform for federal programs and creates innovative practices, which are then scaled to the entire country. The competition for development of the new building of Kamal Theatre is a new stage in the cultural development of Kazan. Our work is based on the principles of transparency and partnership.”

In turn, the chief architect of Kazan turned to the participants with a request, “Their decisions shall help connect the entire territory that now lacks visual harmony. The building should as much as possible connect and reconcile the entire difficult situation and give momentum to the development of the new territory.” Natalia Fishman-Bekmambetova also expressed her key wish to the finalists, “It is important that you had a look at the territory, that you will have individual consultations with the chief architect, as technical issues are very important. But the main thing is to capture the spirit of the place. To try to do something that people will accept as theirs. We must offer them a building in which they recognize themselves. Otherwise the project will not be accepted by the community.”

A tour of Kamal Theater helped the participants to feel the spirit of the theater and to learn more about the important details of the workshops which must be taken into account when developing the architectural concepts. The participants went down under the stage, to the dressing rooms, to the props shop under the roof, saw more than 1000 costumes from the theater’s past and present performances.

“I understand the main question of architects — what should the future theater be like. You saw where it will be located: the water, the park, the sky over Kazan. Therefore, of course, we want the place to be bright and accessible. You have a great opportunity available to not every architect: to build a theater! I was born in Kazan, I was born in this theater. I am the child of this theater. For me, it’s like air, like breathing, like the mother, like the dad, like Kazan, like all our people... Therefore, you must understand how dear this project is to me”, said the chief director of Kamal Theater Farid Bikchantaev.

The finalists were highly impressed by the production “Hello, I’m in theater!” (Әлү, мин театрда!) specially prepared for the architects by directors Kseniya Shachneva and Gyulnara Fazliakhmetova. The performance featured not professional actors, but by the citizens of Kazan who shared their feelings about the new theater building, talked about their expectations, expressed their wishes, what they would like to see in it. At the end of the show, co-chairs of the expert council Natalia Fishman-Bekmambetova and Ilfir Yakupov invited the participants of the production to join the expert council of the competition.

On the next day, the finalists attended a tour of Kazan presented by the co-founder of the Tamga Institute for Urban Research, co-author of the Concept for Sustainable Development of the Historical Settlement of Kazan Marya Leontyeva, employee of the Mardjani Museum Dina Khabibulina, popularizer of local history and city activist Radif Kashapov, architects Gulnara Askarova and Marsel Iskandarov. The experts spoke about the history of the Old Tatar, Sukonnaya and Arkhangelskaya slobodas, the ways of life and urban culture. The diverse context, architecture around the Kaban lakes and future transformations near the competition area show the importance of the future building of Kamal Theater for transforming the image of the Vakhitovsky district and the city’s cultural agenda. The tour ended at the National Library of the Republic of Tatarstan, where the finalists were impressed by the installation dedicated to the history of Tatar writing and the exhibition “The Global World of Tatar Books”.

The small stage of Kamal Theater hosted the talk show “Kamal Theater in 2056” featuring the director of Kamal Theater Ilfir Yakupov, the chief director of Kamal Theater Farid Bikchantaev, and the chief artist of Kamal Theater Sergey Skomorokhov. The talk show was moderated by Aleksandr Ostrogorsky, architecture reporter, instructor at the MARCH Architecture School. The participants of the discussion paid attention to the cultural context of Kamal Theater, its intellectual and creative history and things it has to offer to the modern audience, the traditions of the Turkic theater and iconic performances, and modern visual culture.

At the end of the seminar, the participants visited the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan and watched the fashion film “Juha” with comments by its author Tanya Chernoguzova: thus, the program folded up with a modern reading of Tatar visual culture from young Kazan residents.