No clowning around as Sheffield architects HLM wins circus project

The new Moscow circus school designed by Sheffield-based HLM.
The new Moscow circus school designed by Sheffield-based HLM.

Sheffield-based architects HLM has won an international ideas competition to design a new circus school in Moscow.

The competition, run by Concours d’Architecture, was to design a contemporary space for aspiring circus performers, taking into account the special requirements of a circus, as well as the urban context and impact of the building.

Staff members Belinda Ercan and Maryam Fazel designed the winning entry with an eye-catching, cutting-edge and unconventional design. The entry, entitled ‘Elytra’, was described as ‘a well-deserved gem towering over Moscow’s culturally diverse Tverskoy district.’

Jeremy Pickard, HLM’s design director, said: “Using the competition as a mechanism within the HLM Academy to further explore different design processes and form-making, led to a series of extremely interesting and thought-provoking submissions, which challenged our regional teams to deliver ideas within an extremely short space of time.

“We are extremely pleased with the result, and thoroughly enjoy the platform AC-CA International Architectural Competition provides for designers of all ages and experience to test themselves on such a diverse range of briefs.”

The concept was based on the forewings of an insect that open up to create a protective shell. The open air amphitheatre enables the public to catch sight of the activities inside by providing roof access to the building.

The design also offers a flexible space that can be used for exhibitions, events and theatre performances, and there are also restaurant facilities.