Hashim Sarkis is Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, curator of the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, and director of Hashim Sarkis Studios. He holds Architecture degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard University and has authored and edited several books on architectural theory.
Welcome to the Future of Convergence
The Convergence Center is the region’s most ambitious new education ecosystem for engineering and applied science. It is made up of 25,000 sqm of mixed-use facilities on a 15,000 sqm plot perched on top of the Hrazdan river gorge. With a budget of over 25 million euros, the project will create an open platform and a vibrant community bringing together learning and entrepreneurship and connecting students, young professionals and local ventures to their global peers.
The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies hosted an international open competition for the design of the Convergence Center. The center’s architecture will be one of its strategic assets. It will signal the project’s vision through a design concept that reflects attention to a livable environment fostering open collaboration in the innovation ecosystem of the future.
67 firms from 24 countries submitted expressions of interest for Stage I of the EU Convergence Center for Engineering and Applied Science. The competition jury shortlisted three of those firms for Stage II. BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, RCR Arquitectes and MVRDV came to Yerevan to work with the jury and the Convergence Center team during a two-day workshop that led to the selection of the winning firm.
The jury declared MVRDV the winner of the EU TUMO Convergence Center competition. The MVRDV team, headed by Winy Maas, demonstrated a deep understanding of the program and vision of the project, as well as of the urban context in which the site is located. The bold and innovative design proposals that emerged during the onsite workshop led by MVRDV were highly responsive to the project’s vision of creating an extensible platform, a nexus for collaboration, and an accessible destination with ample public space and opportunities for convergence. The project has now entered its concept design phase. The ideas generated by MVRDV during the competition will now be elaborated, leading to a final architectural design in spring 2020.
Marie Lou Papazian is the founding CEO of the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and previously led the Education for Development Foundation. She holds a degree in Computing in Education from Columbia University. She is trained as an engineer and has been lead construction manager on major building projects in New York City.
Raffi Krikorian is a former VP at Twitter, Engineering Director at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in charge of self-driving cars, and Chief Technology Officer of the National Democratic Committee. He is currently Managing Director at the Emmerson Collective and a member of the board of TUMO Center for Creative Technologies.
Jean-Marc Lavest is the Rector of the French University in Armenia. He has initiated the expansion of the university into a new campus and has led the creation of its new computer science and mathematics department. He has held leadership positions in various academic institutions and holds graduate degrees in engineering, machine vision and robotics.
Soh Yeong Roh is the founder and director of the Art Center Nabi, an institution in Seoul which pioneered the new media art scene in Korea and is specialized in media arts in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence and conceptual art. She holds graduate degrees from Stanford University in education and from Yonsei University in media communication.
International open competition with two stages
Firms were invited to submit information about their experience and the assigned team members, along with a financial statement and fee structure. Please note that design concepts were not be accepted at Stage I but firms were encouraged to present in a brief cover letter their vision for the project as well as why they were a good fit for it. Three firms from among the Stage One candidates were shortlisted to participate in Stage Two.
Launch: June 10
Submission deadline: June 30
Finalist announcement: July 19
Three shortlisted firms were invited to visit the site and to take part in a 2-day workshop with the client team and Jury members during the second half of July. Workshop participants explored project requirements and ideas, and developed sketches for an architectural concept and expression, as well as massing and layout studies. The winning firm was commissioned to execute the architectural design project.
Workshops period: August 15-31
Jury deliberations September 1-14
Winner announcement: September 22
The Convergence Center will be located in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. The site is in the Ajapnyak neighbourhood, at a 10 minute drive from the city center, at the edge of the Hrazdan River gorge.
The three shortlisted firms participating in Stage Two of the competition each received an honorarium of EUR 20,000. In addition, TUMO covered travel and lodging expenses for two key members of each shortlisted team for a site visit and for the 2-day workshop.
TUMO is an innovative after school program for students between the ages of 12 and 18, occupying the first two floors of the TUMO building. It is a new kind of educational experience at the intersection of technology and design with branches in Armenia and oversees. 20,000 teenagers attend TUMO on a weekly basis. The Convergence Center can be seen as the extension of the TUMO Center program to the level of university students and young professionals.
The EU TUMO Convergence Center for Engineering and Applied Science will be a mixed-use campus bringing together academia and industry, linking local students, researchers and technologists to each other and with their global peers, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. It includes a set of mutually reinforcing components combining teaching and training facilities, businesses, public retail outlets and a conference center.
Armenia and Yerevan
Armenia is a country steeped in history but emerging as an important contender in technology and education. Its capital Yerevan, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and home to an exploding startup scene. With a tech sector growing at 20% annually, Yerevan was named one of the “10 Best Cities” in the world for tech careers, and Armenia was crowned “Country of the Year” by The Economist magazine.