Etude in Brick Shades
- contemporary architecture
“Kiselev and Partners” architectural bureau has finished designing a villa community with a picturesque name of “Etude”. Apart from private houses, the place is going to feature a few apartment buildings, while the overall style of the community is close to the laconic Scandinavian design.
The community is located mere six kilometres away from Moscow, and this is why it inhabitants' lifestyle can hardly be described as rustic – it remains urban but provides the options that would have been unavailable otherwise. Such approach gave the architects the opportunity to design the overall style of the settlement in the democratic spirit.
When still working on the masterplan, the authors tried to tie it in to the specifics of the land site: it is considerably slanted towards the highway, and the layout got a fan-shaped layout where the chordate streets follow the horizontals of the slope, while the radial alleys connect the streets with one another, without piercing the settlement end-to-end. The alleys are pedestrian-only; all the streets are one-way; the traffic is predominantly there along the perimeter of the main part of the territory, beyond which only a few land plots and some parts of the infrastructure are left, including the play and ports grounds, a shopping mall, and an entertainment centre. The entrance area is designed as the public centre of the community, there is a small park here.
The land plots from 12 to 20 acres are designed with a possibility of being united into larger ones. For the authors of the project, it was important to design the houses in such a way that they would be proportioned to the land site. It was still more important, however, to give the houses the feel of sturdiness and being absolutely timeless so as they would be perceived as the family nests built for the generations to come. This is why, along with the modern laconic architectural language, out of all the materials, the architects chose the most traditional one could think of – the bricks. All the houses sport terraces, balconies, and patios, which from the very start provides the possibility of further construction and enlarging the area of any of them.
The proportional array and the composition consisting of horizontal volumes of the buildings together with the dark bricks of the walls calls to memory the buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, even though the authors claim to have proceeded from the Scandinavian school and works by Alvar Henrik Aalto. What really makes these buildings close to Aalto is the commitment to make their architecture as ecological as possible, at peace with the scenery that is not a "given" here but is designed simultaneously with the buildings and is considered to be the second level of architecture, yet another shell that gives shelter from the challenges of the outside world.