Case Study: Chess Reinvents Itself Through Architecture

world chess rendering

Who said that chess is not about design and architecture? The world’s oldest sport continues its makeover and appeals not only to chess fans (over 600 million around the world), but is also becoming a design and architecture showcase in a successful attempt to gain global presence.

2015.1109.Project.World Chess by Agon LimitedFollowing recent redesign of chess pieces by renowned design firm Pentagram, World Chess by Agon Limited, the company that owns commercial rights for the World Chess Championship cycle and organizes the World Chess Championship, commissioned a well-known architectural bureau to design a perfect chess tournament setting. Thousands of spectators and media who came to see the World Chess Rapid and Blitz Championship that took place in Berlin this month, said that chess has never been more beautiful.

Arguably for the first time in chess history, the design of the Championship venue became an integral part of the tournament to the delight of German spectators and chess lovers from all over the world. Two hundred of the world’s top grandmasters, including world champion Magnus Carlsen, and ex-champions Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, took part in this 5-day championship that determined who is the best in the world of fast chess, a dynamic game with very tight time control.

The architects, Moscow-based Novoe (‘New’) bureau, managed to transform the 17,000 sq feet historic former milk factory in the heart of Berlin, into a phenomenal chess championship venue with black and white design, stemming from the colors of the chess board. The strong visual and radiant light was applied to all decorative and architectural elements at the venue, making it attractive for both visitors and TV audience.

Visitors were welcome into the playing area and felt as if they are on the floor seats at their favorite all-star game. They were able to follow moves of famous grandmasters live, an amazing experience for chess fans.

“Our decision to create two interconnected zones: one for players, and one for spectators, allowed guests to watch broadcast of games with live audio commentary in the conference area, and easily access playing hall to follow games on-the-spot”, says Sergey Nebotov, partner at Novoe bureau.

world chess logoThe Championship also featured strong visual, an unusual drawing called ‘Ouroboros’, created by Textandpictures. The snake-like arm that holds a pawn became a favorite with visitors and also a foundation for decorating the venue. Maxim Spivakov, the artist who created the visual, says: “The image questions the nature of the relation between the game of chess and the players. It is chess players that use chess to play with each-other as well as it is chess that uses the players to be played”.

“Chess is the perfect sport for the 21st century. It is mostly played online and, which may be a surprise for many, has a phenomenally huge and passionate community. We are so excited to bring the sport’s visual and user experience up-to-date and looking forward to reinventing it further, especially in light of the 2016 World Chess Championship Match taking place in the United States,” says Ilya Merenzon, president of World Chess by Agon Limited. “We are really excited to collaborate with designers and architects and engineers. At the moment our office looks like hybrid of a design bureau and a media start-up, and we welcome ideas on how to make chess more relevant and exciting”.

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