Music School and Concert Hall, Ventspils / Latvia

2014 – 2019

Music in its many different forms has an essential role in Latvian culture, lending communities distinct identities.The new music school in the Baltic city of Ventspils provides the region with a much needed centre of excellence and a focal point for the teaching and performance of music.

The music school is prominently located on the main public square, Lielais laukums. The plaza, gardens, water feature and sculpture are conceived as part of the wide reaching transformation of the city centre. This new urban landscape provides a fitting backdrop to the striking forms of the building and enriches the visitor experience.

The distinctive roof shelters different spaces, both indoor and out, from the extremes of the weather and lends the building an immediately recognizable landmark appearance. The music school offers a range of performance spaces accessible to the public, with a classical concert hall (seating 600), complimented by a smaller „black-box“ theatre, a music library and an outdoor stage and amphitheater. Diverse backstage facilities are housed over 3 floors surrounding the concert hall stage.

All interiors spaces are developed according to the highest acoustic standards with isolation permitting the undisturbed staging of parallel events in the 2 halls. The building's interiors are distinguished by the contrast between the simple rectilinear form of the concert hall and the informal arrangement of the surrounding foyers which open out onto Lielais laukums, in the form of terraces and balconies. The foyers are flanked by the cafeteria, music library, green room, recording studio and extensive teaching facilities.

A distinguishing feature of the concert hall is the striking pipe organ, designed in collaboration with Orgelbau Klais. An innovative energy concept combines earth channels, decentralized ventilation units and extensive heat recovery with a high performance envelope to dramatically reduce operational costs. The building can, dependent upon the season, be naturally ventilated. A large skylight allows the concert hall to be naturally lit.

The opening of the concert hall was celebrated by a series of concerts in Summer 2019. The inaugural concert performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, Latvian State Choir with Raimund Pauls and Iveta Apkalna was broadcast live in national radio / television.

Pipe Organ Project

The concept for this pipe organ has been developed through a close cooperation between world reknowned Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna and the leading organ builders, Orgelbau Klais, Bonn, Germany.

The concept is based on a further development of the German baroque basics which enables a broad music-making tradition without placing too many limits in one particular direction. Befitting this educational institution the instrument to provide for a broad spectrum of organ literature allowing the possibility to present music of different cultures and different times, and importantly the ability to perform contemporary music.


Due to the vigorous musical tradition in Latvia, the strong organ heritage and the unfortunate interruption due to the political history of the Baltic States the Ventspils Organ presents a rare opportunity for re-entry into the rich organ tradition and for a new focalpoint in teaching practice in Latvia.

Fulfilling all these anticipations is a highly sophisticated task. Thus the developmentof a musical and artistic concept went much deeper into detail, incorporatingdiscussions with musicians and consultants rarely held in the initial stages of sucha project.

The main challenge in designing such an instrument is to create a versatile and colourful instrument with a strong personality, which, with its music, not only reaches the ears of the audience but also their hearts.

The concept, although deeply rooted in the century-long tradition of organ building, is recognizably contemporary. This is reflected in the visual appearance of the new instrument with its prospect stretching across the entire front of the concert hall. The striking visual appearance, a dynamic mixture of speaking and non-speaking pipes, has been developed in a collaboration between Orgelbau Klais and haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050 in order to ensure a rapport with the architecture in terms of appearance and detail.

Artistic Concept

The Organ is a straight two-manual instrument with Hauptwerk (Great), Schwellwerk (Swell) and Pedals. This core is enriched by a number of extended ranks which provide a wide range of colors and sounds. The idea includes the rare possibility to build sounds not only by choosing 'ready made sounds' i.e. stops at unison or octave pitch, but also by combining different available harmonics making this instrument singular among most of recent concert hall instruments all over the world.

Short Facts


City of Ventspils / Latvia

Planing Team

Local Partner Architect
Studio MSV – Riga / Latvia

Structural Engineer
Schlaich, Bergermann & Partner – Stuttgart / Germany
SIA BKB – Riga / Latvia

Müller BBM – Munich / Germany

Organ Designer / Builder
Johannes Klais Orgelbau – Bonn / Germany

Organ Consultant
Iveta Apkalna – Berlin / Germany & Riga / Latvia

Climate / Energy / Mechanical Services
Transsolar Klimaengineering – Stuttgart / Germany
SIA Friteks – Riga / Latvia

Energy Consultant / Building Physics
SIA Arche – Riga / Latvia

Electrical Engineering
SIA FIMA / SIA KELLME – Riga / Latvia

Architectural Lighting
LDE Belzner Holmes – Stuttgart / Germany

Stage Engineering
DTP Theaterbühnentechnik – Dresden / Germany

Stage Lighting / Sound
SIA Audio AE – Riga / Latvia

Fire Engineering
SIA Glamma – Riga / Latvia

Water / Drainage Engineering
SIA IP – Ventspils / Latvia

Cost Consultant
SIA Northproject – Riga / Latvia

Adam Mork - Copenhagen / Denmark
Oskars Jura, STUDIO 555 - Ventspils / Latvia

Planning Schedule

Competition 2005
Revised Scheme Design / 2014 – 2015
Technical Project / 2015
Construction Time / 2016 – 2019
Completion / Spring 2019
Opening Concerts / Summer 2019 (as part of celebrations marking the centenary of Latvian independence)
Opening Music School / Autumn 2019


Gross Floor Area (GFA)
ca. 8,000 m2 BGF

ca. 32,000 m2 BGF

Above ground - 3

Concert Hall - 600 Seats
Black-Box Theatre - 150 Seats
Outdoor Amphitheater - ca. 1000 Seats

"high-tech from nature“

Wool, Fired Earth and Stone
The distinctive fabric used for the audience seating, together with curtains and upholstery throughout the building, is the result of a collaboration between haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050 and Rohi Stoffe GmbH. The bespoke fabric with a great colour range provides a contrast to the subdued colours and timbers of the building interiors.
Rohi is famed for its innovative use of wool, showcasing the properties this natural material has to offer through a range of finishing techniques.

The Team

David Cook

Partner Freier Architekt, BA (hons), Dip. Arch (dist), RIBA, BDA

Als Projektpartner bei Behnisch Architekten war David Cook von 1995-2005 verantwortlich für das Harbourside Center (Konzert- und Tanztheater) in Bristol, Großbritannien, das Dänische Nationalarchiv (NPAC) in Kopenhagen, Dänemark, sowie für das Terrence Donnelly Center für zelluläre und biomolekulare Forschung (TDDCBR) an der Universität von Toronto, Kanada. Als Partner bei Behnisch Architekten zwischen 2005-2012 war David Cook verantwortlich für die Hilde-Domin-Schule in Herrenberg, das Nationalzentrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) in Heidelberg, die Schwetzinger-Terrasse-Kindertagesstätte in Heidelberg, sowie für das Gebäude des Hauptsitzes King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, Saudi-Arabien. Er hat an einer Vielzahl von Campus- / Masterplaning-Projekten gearbeitet, darunter UC Dublin, Irland und der Sanierung des Lower Don in Toronto, Kanada. David Cook war auch Co-Kurator der sehr erfolgreichen Wanderausstellung "Ökologie, Design, Synergie" durch Deutschland.

Nach 6 Jahren der Partnerschaft gründet Cook, zusammen mit Martin Haas und Stephan Zemmrich, im April 2012 sein eigenes Büro haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050 mit Projekten im In- und Ausland.

David Cook war Belluschi-Gastprofessor für Architektur an der Universität von Oregon, USA. Er pflegt weiterhin eine enge Beziehung zu der Universität und kehrt regelmäßig für Gastvorträge an die Universität zurück.

Auszüge: Projekte

Bristol Harbourside Centre

Bristol Harbourside Centre

David Cook als Projektpartner bei Behnisch Architekten von 1993-1996
Danish National and Provincial Archives, Copenhagen

Danish National and Provincial Archives, Copenhagen

David Cook als Projektpartner bei Behnisch Architekten von 1996-2000
Terrence Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (TDCCBR), Toronto

Terrence Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (TDCCBR), Toronto

David Cook als Partner in Behnisch Architekten
Hilde-Domin-Schule, Herrenberg

Hilde-Domin-Schule, Herrenberg

David Cook als Partner in Behnisch Architekten
Institut für Technische Physik (ITEP), KIT, Karlsruhe

Institut für Technische Physik (ITEP), KIT, Karlsruhe

David Cook als Partner in Behnisch Architekten
National Zentrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT), Heidelberg

National Zentrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT), Heidelberg

David Cook als Partner in Behnisch Architekten

David Correa

Dino Chai

Erik Martinez

Eva Engele

Felix Beck

Hanxiao Liu

Han hat an der University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada) mit Major in Mechanical Engineering studiert. Sein Master in Architecture und dem Certificate in Landscape Studies hat er an der University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (USA) erworben. Während und nach seinem Studium war Han in mehreren Büros in Canada, den USA und China tätig. Unter anderem arbeitete er bei Environmental Control and Safety Engineering in Burnaby, Canada, MCW Consultants (Vancouver), ABB Robotics Division (Shanghai), sowie SOM in New York, USA. Han hat den angesehenen Arthur Spayed Brooke Memorial Award erworben.

Seit 2012 arbeitet Han als Architekt und Projektleiter für haascookzemmrichSTUDIO2050. Zu seinem bisherigen Tätigkeiten zählt die Mitarbeit an Wettbewerben (u.a. Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki, Deutsches Pavilion für die Expo in Mailand, Italien, Mercedes-Benz Campus in Stuttgart, sowie Smichov Residential Area in Prag) und an folgenden Projekten: Fragrant Hill Residences in Beijing, China; Global Geometry Office, Hamburg; Musikschule und Konzertsaal in Ventspils, Lettland, sowie TenON 5 Stadtquartier in Mannheim.

Seit 2017 ist Han für unsere Niederlassung in Shanghai verantwortlich.

Michael Kapeller

Paul Lipan-Weber

Sabine Vecvagare

Freie Architekten PartG mbB

Gymnasiumstraße 52
70174 Stuttgart

Phone: +49 711 22936260
Fax: +49 711 22936273

Public Relations:

4th Floor, Number 1
Lane 299, Fu Xing West Road
200031 Shanghai
P. R China

Phone: +86 138 1396 0504