Tashkent Restoration Lab and Cultural Center

  • Location Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Client Art and Culture Development Foundation
    under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan
  • Year 2021
  • Status Ongoing
  • Program Cultural
  • Team Ekaterina Golovatyuk
    Giacomo Cantoni
    Edoardo Croce
    Rebecca Felline
    Gaia Fusé
    Emanuele Moro
    Monica Moschini
    Pietro Pagliaro
    Luigi Savio
    Ivano Viceconte
    Sofia Zozulia
  • Surface 8.000 sqm

The former Cultural and Information Center of the Intourist, popularly known as the Republican House of Tourism, was built in 1986 by a team of architects from Tashkent, including Vladimir Narubansky, Yuri Khaldeev and others. The House of Tourism is an example of late modernism, with good proportions and recognized at the time as an exceptional building in terms of volumetric composition and quality of the interior. It was intended, among other things, for educational activities and communication with tourists. For this, the entertainment and educational functions were given more preeminence. A large hall with 600 seats was designed for concerts and film screenings, as well as a large foyer with a cafe and sculptural staircase, and a wonderful courtyard with a fountain.

After the intervention, the building will house two new cultural institutions: French Cultural Center and the Research Center for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage Objects and Artworks. Both institutions are created on the initiative of the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the office of which will also be located here.

The preservation strategy, developed by Grace, derives from a careful study of the programmatic distribution of the original building.
The parts of the building that were open to the public and are still part of the collective memory of the Tashkent community – such as the courtyard, the entrance lobby, the cinema hall and its foyer – are preserved and renewed maintaining the same proportions, materials and spatial quality, while the other parts, that were originally not accessible to the public, are subject to more significant transformations to accommodate the French Cultural Center, the Restoration Center and offices.

The project reopens the courtyard to the city, making the main entrance to the building and the central distribution space to the different functions (as it was in the past). The entrance lobby with its monumental staircase is preserved to accommodate a new cafe, a bookshop and a space for temporary exhibitions.
The former cinema hall, a large cylindrical hall, is preserved and adapted to a multifunctional space for different types of events, including lectures, film screenings, performances and concerts.

The program of the Restoration Center requires spatial and technical standards that could not be accommodated within the original soviet building. Therefore, the back wing of the U-shaped block is replaced by a transparent new volume, suitable for the activities of the new institution.

The facades reflect the preservation strategy of the building. The preserved cylindrical volume maintains the original facade, while the U-shaped block with different degrees of intervention presents a more hybrid condition toward the exterior. Finally, the 3 sides of this block facing the street are “wrapped” in a translucent fiberglass grating, creating an ethereal envelope that unifies and homogenizes the multiple building elements.

After the intervention, the building will become contemporary, but the memory of the past – material and intangible – will remain preserved.