5 gems of modern Armenian architecture

COAF - modern architecture example in Armenia

Many of you might wonder if there is any outstanding modern Armenian architecture. The answer to your question is yes: in a second, I will introduce you to supercool, eco-friendly, sustainable buildings backed with advanced architectural design solutions and technology. 

I hope you are going to find my insights helpful. And, I think these places can potentially be great traveling destinations both for tourists, locals, or repatriates. Tip: since all of them are educational institutions, you will “free two birds with one key” in case you visit them for a workshop or an event. So, check out their websites or social media before visiting, maybe you can catch a nice event. And if you find my blog useful, let me know on Instagram or Twitter, with #ArmeniaTravelTips. So, stick around, let’s get to exploring! 

Here are 5 gems of Armenian modern architecture:

  • TUMO Gyumri
  • COAF SMART Center
  • Vanadzor Technology Center (VTC)
  • Ayb School
  • UWC Dilijan

TUMO Gyumri – my favourite example of modern Armenian architecture

Architect: Bernard Khoury

Location: Gyumri 

The Gyumri Tumo Center for Creative Technologies is a free-of-charge learning hub with key focus areas on animation, digital media, and web/video game development. The project brought renovation, and a brand new life to the old Gyumri Theater building. Now, it’s an interactive area with a collective workspace and a 3D printing lab. Another really cool thing about this place is that during the weekends they often transform it into a 200-seat theater for various performances and screenings. Both students and the regular public visit the building for various events and the building itself became a popular sight for visitors of Gyumri in general. 

The roof serves as a link between the TUMO building and the park. Its canopy has a mirrored underside which reflects the vibrant ambiance of the interior and the surroundings. By the way, the project maintained only the western and eastern facades of the building. Unfortunately, we lost the rest of it to decay, and had to replace it with a new structure. 

The new additions are in bright red and are meant to highlight the contrast between modern and old. Though given the drive with which people take photos there, I think red was intentionally chosen  to make the building “instagrammable”. 🙂 So, if you also want to make cool photos for your Instagram account, you gotta visit Gyumri for this! Side note, I also have a whole list of the most instagrammable places in Armenia. So, don’t hesitate to check it out.

How to get there from Yerevan?

My favorite way of traveling between Yerevan and Gyumri is by taking a train. Check out my post on the easiest way to get to Gyumri from Yerevan to learn more about the fares and timings. But you can also take a shared ride with GG shuttle, they depart from Yerevan every 2 hours or so. Links to the GG app and other taxi alternatives are at the end of the paragraph about the COAF SMART Center.

TUMO Gyumri. Source: @best_of_gyumri on IG


Architect: Paul Kaloustian Architect

Location: Lori Province

I was lucky enough to visit COAF when attending the Starmus Festival of science and art during the summer of 2022. The initiative strives to deliver high-quality educational, social, and economic programs in regions of Armenia with a focus on technology, arts, sustainability, languages, and more. 

The contemporary structure lies in the horizontal direction and follows the shape of the landscape. From the outside, you perceive Smart Center as a natural continuation of the land. The architecture integrates with rural aesthetics while encouraging modern design. However, only from indoors one unfolds the whole magic of this place. The floor-to-ceiling windows visually extend the interior, and you feel like all the boundaries between the building and the courtyard are blurred. 

Another potential modern Armenian architecture gem is on its way to implementation. This time the COAF SMART Campus will open in the Armavir region. An open international architectural competition was organized by COAF last year, the finalist will be the one who will get to bring the project to life.

How to get there from Yerevan?

Take a taxi from Yerevan. Ride duration from Yerevan is around 2.5 hours. A shared ride would cost you around $4 per person. Consider these options:

COAF SMART Center. Source: @conceptbycoaf on IG

Vanadzor Technology Center (VTC)

Architect: Archcoop Architectural Studio

Location: Vanadzor

The center is the result of the cooperation of the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, the Armenian government, and the World Bank. The purpose of this startup incubator is to contribute to the development of the region, create more jobs, and encourage young individuals to be innovative. 

VTC was not built from scratch. The initial building was seriously damaged by the Spitak earthquake in 1988. Now it is restored and equipped with modern architectural solutions. The yellow-colored part of the interior and the transparent facade make the building extremely vibrant and unique. 

The center was nominated for the 2022 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. The list included around 450 works that were evaluated based on their concept, social, cultural and technical impact. So, it’s super impressive that even through a very high bar and tough competition they nominated this example of modern Armenian architecture for the prize.

I went there a couple of years ago with my friends who had been working on their startup idea. The purpose of my second (I hope not the last one) visit was to participate in a guest lecture. By the way, webinars, guest lectures, workshops by top-tier professionals are very common at VTC. So, they are definitely worth checking out not only for the beauty of the building.

How to get there from Yerevan?

The easiest way to get to Vanadzor from Yerevan is by taking a taxi for a solo ride or to share. The trip is going to take around 2 hours. A shared ride costs around 3$, for example. Check out the taxi apps I linked at the end of the paragraph about the COAF SMART Center. And if you are feeling adventurous, consider taking a mini-bus ride from Yerevan. It costs around the same, but it’s a much more authentic “local” experience. You can see the routes (route 403) on Transport for Armenia.

Modern building of VTC. Source: @vanadzor_technology_center on IG

Ayb School 

Architect: Storaket Architectural Studio 

Location: Yerevan

Ayb completely disrupts the way the traditional education system works and puts emphasis on the adoption of advanced educational technologies and modern teaching. Naturally, a school designed to make Armenian education competitive should also look fancy and modern, shouldn’t it? 🙂 Indeed, it is. 

Ayb Learning Hub was brought to life as a result of collaboration between the top professionals of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Armenian architects. Architect Arsen Arustamyan was the one who created the initial design of the Ayb Learning Hub. The construction began at the 6.5-hectare land close to Tbilisi Highway. There are three main buildings on the school campus: building A, B & C. All of them are bright and have large openings on the facades that bring daylight inside. 

Good to know!

  • In 2010, the Graduate School of Design’s Department of Architecture at Harvard did research on Ayb Learning Hub which later ended up in a “Responsive Learning Environments” publication. 
  • In 2019, both Ayb and Dilijan’s Central School won the “Build School Project” architectural contest. 
Ayb Middle School. Source: @builtenvironmentchannel on IG

UWC Dilijan

Architect: Tim Flynn Architects

Location: Dilijan

UWC Dilijan College integrates modern design with the town’s historical architecture which by the way took in a lot of Georgian culture and influence as well. Particularly textured masonry and balconies closely replicate the local architecture.  

Being environmentally friendly was essential for this project. Therefore, buildings are organically adjusted to the surrounding landscape and materials like Armenian tufa and local stone were used for the foundation.

Eco-friendly walls and roofs are the key elements of the project’s architecture since they visually merge the complex of the buildings with the surroundings. It’s interesting that they used some special lawns to make sure the school does not stay evergreen but matches the color of each season of the year. 

UWC College is the first building in Armenia to be certified by BREEAM for eco-efficiency starting from planning to execution. In 2015 during the International Green Roof Association (IGRA) conference, the school also won the leadership award for Trendsetting Architecture.

How to get there from Yerevan?

The easiest way is to get a GG Shuttle, as they’re very frequent between Yerevan and Dilijan. The ride typically takes less than 1.5 hours and costs about 3-4$ in a shared shuttle. The links are above, at the end of the paragraph about the COAF SMART Center.

Samsung Innovation Campus in Dilijan. Source: @uwcdilijan on IG

Contemporary architecture in Armenia: final thoughts

All in all, these were, in my opinion, the most notable examples of modern Armenian architecture. Of course, there is more to this list. For example, Gouroo Club & Garden and Tigran Art Studio are other amazing modern projects. By the way, both are designed by the same architect Arsen Shur Karapetyan. The latter one belongs to a famous New York City-based visual artist Tigran Tsitoghdzyan. There is also a spacious studio for holding public exhibitions of Tigran’s paintings. And let’s not forget about the cool building of a popular Armenian IT company Renderforest, designed by Storaket Architectural Studio

Now it is your turn to mention any other gems of contemporary architecture in Armenia. 🙂Due to 70 year old Soviet legacy, you might as well want to take Soviet tours in Yerevan. Let me know about that in a tweet or an Instagram post with #ArmeniaTravelTips. Lastly, if you are reading this post I guess you are into architecture and can check out gems of Islamic Architecture in Armenia. I hope you enjoy reading it! 

Featured image credits: Photo AnukEvo on Wikimedia (CC)

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