Quality Mark

  • contemporary architecture

Among the numerous buildings that Totan Kuzembaev has deigned for the resort of Pirogovo, there is one whose name inevitably sends the guests into a state of slight confusion. It is the “Ú” (“hard sign” in Russian – translator’s note) building whose name is pronounced as “err” and puts one in the mind of the times of the ancient Russ with its log-crib buildings.


The residential house that has been built on the bank of Klyazminskoe Lake owes its name in fact not to the Russian olden times but to the quite up-to-date newspaper “ÊîììåðñàíòÚ” (the pre-revolution Russian for “businessman” – translator’s note). For this newspaper, the letter “Ú” is an indispensable element of its corporate identity. The thing is that the commissioner is directly connected to this publication, and, because he took an active part in developing this project, Totan Kuzembaev’s decision to christen the result of their joint efforts with this letter looks as logical as any other.

As the architect reminisces, the commissioner and his wife wanted to get something that would look and feel like the “government dacha” (elite country house, the kind that belongs to the top government officials – translator’s note) – a house in a sanctuary forest, among the pine trees at the water’s edge, whose image would harmoniously combine luxury and rustic simplicity. “I organized a small guided tour of the community for them – Totan Kuzembaev shares – and what they like most of all during this walk was our first yacht office. When we were building it we used wooden hunches and cut-offs that people at sawmills usually throw away without giving them a second thought or thinking of utilizing them”. Because of their natural simplicity, the facades of the yacht office were such a hit with our clients that they asked to make the façade of their house look exactly the same”.

In other words, without having even avague idea of how the future house would look like in general, the architect knew for sure that it was going to be built from hunches. This material became a starting point of sorts and to a large extent it determined the laconism and the rough simplicity of the building under construction. The basic outlines of the construction were gradually showing through – the gable roof, overhanging way beyond the main volume, spacious verandas, open balconies and retro-style fenestration. Kuzembaev’s master hand is seen here at a first glance, even in this same "skeleton" of the roof that he "lets out" - the strict rhythm of the girders almost hypnotizes the observer with its complexity and the precision of the engineering solutions.

The most “unexpected” element of this seemingly quite traditional and old-fashioned building, in the best sense of the word, is the already-mentioned hunch finish of the façade: the hunches are put on at times vertically, at times horizontally, thus forming a surface that is jagged and unevenly voluminous. Incredibly charismatic are the columns of rough-hewn timber that support the heavy structure of the roof – they add to the house's brutalism, brutalism that is not exquisite but ostentatiously simple and rustic and which is exactly what makes the house different from other buildings in the community.

Text by: Totan Kuzembaev, Alla Pavlikova

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