International competition recognizes insect-inspired design for Moscow Circus School

The proposal would make the school’s activities more transparent to the public.

September 19, 2016 |

HLM Architects' proposal for the new Moscow Circus School looks like it's about to take flight. Its design used a bug's wing casing as its model. Image: Arch Daily

Are bug-like designs becoming the latest trend?

German architect Achim Menges’ futuristic installation called the Elytra Filament Pavilion (“elytra” being the wing casings of a beetle), with its 2,000-ft span, can be seen in the courtyard of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.  

And recently the Architectural Competition Concours d’Architecture (AC-CA) awarded first prize to Iranian architect Maryam Fazel and German architect Belinda Ercan, who work out of HLM Architects’ office in Sheffield, England, for their insect-inspired design of the new Moscow Circus School, located in that city’s Twerskoy District, which boasts an up-and-coming artistic scene.

The aim of the single-stage competition, according to AC-CA’s website, was to design a new Circus School to serve as an academy for young aspiring circus performers.  The competition was announced on October 27, 2015, and closed for submissions on February 20. First prize was US$3,000, and the first-, second-, and third-prize winning designs would be published in magazines in several countries. The winners were selected in March.

Arch Daily reports that the design proposal—coincidentally called Elytra—opens upward to create a protective shell, as a bug’s might. Roof access would be available to the public (which the school is not, currently), with the goal of creating a cultural hub with waiting and exhibition areas.


HLM Architects' winning design proposal makes the school's activities more visible to the public.  Image: Arch Daily.


“Central to this design is its transparency of activities,” stated HLM. The heart of the school will be an open-air amphitheater with wide programming opportunities. The elytra part of the building tower will include training and academic zones, as well as offices and service areas.

“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,” says Jeremy Picard, HLM’s design director. “We are extremely pleased with the result.”

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