Compatibility Test

  • contemporary architecture

ABD Architects has designed a multifunctional medical center in Shchepkina street in Moscow.


A seven-storey building, its front façade stretching along Shchepkina street, was put in commission in October 2012, after a five-year construction period. Within this time, the building has radically changed its exterior look and functional purpose, which proved to be a tough challenge for the architectural company that coped very well with this long-term marathon.


The project was launched in 2004 when ABD architects secured an order to create a conceptual design of a multifunctional complex. The original plan was to construct a building with offices, shops, restaurants and banks; the new building gable façade was supposed to fill in the gap at a small square between the Olympiysky Sports Complex and the Church of St Philip Metropolitan of Moscow designed by the architect M.F. Kazakov. Tackling a difficult task of blending a seven-storeyed building into the immediate surroundings, the architects chose a modern style making its gable façade dynamically rounded and suggesting a combination of metal and glass for its façades. The latter was not approved of by the Moscomarchitectura, the designers getting the advice the front should be made more traditional and less striking.


Among other things, the facades changed their color: the designers used ecru panels to match classical white and yellow color scheme of the Church of St Philip Metropolitan of Moscow. A classical touch is also felt in square windows bringing to mind buildings of the 1930s. Besides, this effect is achieved by flat lesenes and pylons slightly bulging over the even checked façade to delicately emphasize vertical priority, which is characteristic of classicizing modernism of the 1970s. The two-step eaves at the sixth floor are yet another classical allusion along with the above-mentioned ones which were hinted at in the well-proportioned façade.


On the contrary, both the first and the top floors are made of glass. They differ from the ecru surfaces so that the checked façade looks like a coat or scarf tightly embracing the glass cube. The black well-rounded canopy is an eave in its own modernistic way conclusively proving a modern character of the building though concealed behind a classical form.


One cant but notice that construction of this building has much in common with that of the White Square Business Centre at the Belorusskaya Metro Station which was designed by ABD architects a few years ago. In both cases daring modernistic projects were made more classical and respectable thus creating a combination of traditional and modern forms. The feature both buildings (different in all other aspects) share is an austere façade with gently rounded corners.

However, the newly transformed project was about to change even more drastically. The construction of the office center started in 2007. In 2010 the building changed its ownership and went over to European Medical Center. New owners decided to convert the practically finished building to a clinic. Vsevolod Shabanov, chief architect, says: As for technology, a new project required serious structural changes, and at first we even doubted that it was possible. Yet the designers not only managed to turn offices, shops and cafes into wards, doctors offices and operating rooms but also built in two big medical elevators, widened already constructed ventilation ducts and added a new one (as requirements to the ventilation had been considerably increased). They also completely reconstructed the technical floor which now contained large-scale technical equipment of the clinic. Besides, two new staircases were designed as the already built ones were 1.2 meters wide and artificially lit (according to the requirements for office buildings) while for a clinic it was necessary to make the staircases wider (1.35 meters) and lit by natural light.


The designers moved the staircases closer to the façades but this desperate measure proved to be good for the building. Broken lines of the staircases in fact improved the design instead of ruining it. And though the top floor windows in operating rooms were tinted, the transparent walls of the first floor actually eliminate the distinction between the outside and a spacious hall with designer furniture and bright logos.


The interior of the medical center was designed by Interiors Department of ABD architects, chief architect being Maria Korneeva who was experienced in creating interiors for medical centers (for example, Clinic 31). Traditional white color scheme seen in most hospitals was enriched by different color and light accents. The entrance zone is dominated by a bright-green reception desk while the ceilings in long corridors are painted optimistic yellow. The corridors seem to be lit not by the ceiling lamps hidden in a niche but the white walls reflecting the light.


The special feature of the project is a unique lighting design of the room of emotional and psychological relief. It is located at the ground level so it has no windows. To compensate for the lack of natural light, the architects designed special wall lighting behind custom-made panels. On the ceiling there are some built-in lighting spots in the form of various blots which not only allude to the famous Rorschach inkblot test but also light the room and make it surprisingly spacious and cozy.

Text by: Boris Levyant, Boris Stuchebryukov,
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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