Archi.ru: You have an extensive background of an educator. Has the educational environment itself changed over the course of your career? What is your prognosis for the near future?
Caroline Bos: It is changing a lot all the time and there are so many different ways of architectural education. But there are two main systems that exist perennially to each other. We have technical universities and academies and then there are top universities where people can get a more advanced degree – some in the United States (Columbia University, Harvard) and maybe the Architecture Association in London. I think that the latter type is a bit more flexible, they can change the program and they always maintain a relationship with the practice by having guest professors that also practice. The technical universities and academies are often less flexible, as they have to be very careful so that they don’t completely lose the relationship with the practice because it’s very easy for that to happen — and this would be a very bad thing especially today because there is so much change in the world and today you have to practice to survive as an architect. So the biggest challenge for an educator is keeping up with how much the practice is now changing.
Archi.ru: How would you describe your teaching method? Has it also changed with time?
Caroline Bos: Yes, it has — a lot. For instance, 8 years ago I was teaching at Princeton and the focus was very much on organization: how do we organize the program, content, circulation, construction into an effective package. And now the focus is moving a little bit away from design per se: we have to think about the problems that architecture is faced with in a way that is not only project-related anymore. Of course, students still need to learn to design but they also need to learn to think far more about the real problems that we encounter in architecture and also about the technology that is needed to realize buildings today.
Archi.ru: The research activity seems now to be crucial for any architecture practice. How could educators prepare their students for this task? I suppose it’s impossible to teach them economy, sociology, psychology and so on simultaneously to teaching them to design.
Caroline Bos: Yes, it’s impossible to teach everything especially because knowledge is always changing, but we have to teach students to learn, to think, to innovate. They should learn the methodologies of thinking, analyzing how to approach design, so that they can practice for their whole working life.
Archi.ru: Are the students prepared to start their own practice when they get their degree?
Caroline Bos: At the moment a small practice is very difficult to maintain. Practices are getting bigger, and small practices are very much under pressure. So I don’t think students are ready to practice on their own when they finish their studies: if they do their practice will always stay a very small firm with very small projects. I would recommend in the current climate to do some time at a large practice in order to gain more experience and also because it is there that more interesting work is taking place.
Archi.ru: So the research, the learning are central to the practice now. And how is the research activity organized at your practice?
Caroline Bos: We have 4 knowledge platforms and everyone in our practice is also involved in knowledge development. This is completely integrated with the projects, so all knowledge is practice-related and it far more constitutes the core of the practice than design or the project itself. It is really about highly specific knowledge that is developed to make a project possible. A lot of architects experience difficulties when the construction of their building starts: all sorts of problems turn up — the budget is insufficient, or it turns out that there are technical problems, or there are regulation problems that put pressure on the design. And then you have to find ways to accommodate that and to solve those problems in a way that still keeps your design strong – and that is something that many architects never learn to master. They can’t work with restrictions and this just leads to compromise, or to frustration, or to an increase in the budget. But we can also learn to work in much smarter ways throughout the whole process, to be flexible, adaptable and also learn where you can make changes and where you can not make changes. Also how what we’re really talking about is how facades are constructed and so on. There is a lot of knowledge (often specialized technical knowledge) that we have gained through the series of projects and that has made it much easier for us now to keep being innovative and experimental with our practice within reasonable budgets and with short time limits also.
Archi.ru: It is very interesting to know because architects are often complaining about all these things but rarely propose any solution.
Caroline Bos: Yes, but we had to practice a lot to learn these lessons, we had to build a lot to learn these things.
Archi.ru: You have built a lot and in various countries around the world, and you have taught at the universities in various countries. The profession becomes increasingly more global now. How could one adapt to this new situation, because as far as I understand it is difficult to work in one country in the known circumstances but to work internationally is much more difficult.
Caroline Bos: Yes, it is not easy, but it is also very interesting. It is something that we find enjoyable because it would be boring to always work within your limits, within your own expectations. It’s good to push yourself and to keep learning, to be forced to innovate, be forced to learn. If we stay too much within our comfort zone we will get stuck and we will not produce anything interesting. It is a part of the culture of architecture to push itself forward.
Archi.ru: So globalization is a good thing from your point of view?
Caroline Bos: Yes, I think that it is a very good thing, and also healthy. I have learned how much we all have in common — globalization is also about that. When I work with colleagues in China or here or in Korea or in Italy we have a common language: it is our profession and we have a common goal and it’s very great to experience that. And I think that in the future it will be very important: we are going to have to solve together the real problems of our world. It has to do with all the crises that we are dealing with, the - most of all - environmental crisis. So I think it is very important to learn to discuss, to exchange, to collaborate.
Archi.ru: What is the main challenge for an architect today?
Caroline Bos: The main challenge is absolutely the sustainability challenge. We have to stop wasting resources, we have to build constructions that have more longevity, that can last longer and are adaptable and flexible, instead of buildings that have to be put up and taken down again because of any need for change. We have to think about making buildings more accommodating to the future and think of ways that lead to healthier life for people and the environment, a better future.
Archi.ru: But not everything could be changed by the good intentions of an architect. There are also politicians, businessmen. How powerful is the influence of an architect now?
Caroline Bos: I think that we could do more than we think. We have done some projects where we also analyzed stakeholder relations and we came up with insights that really changed the perception of what that project would be. For instance, in Asia we have done a few department stores that really are about the public space inside: a more cultural, dynamic experience was created with the result that it’s more like being in a museum. And these things have been possible because we imagined and visualized it and it became interesting to a client. So, as you say, you can complain and think “well, the client doesn’t allow me this or that” but you can also make a proposal and first take an initiative yourself to put forward your vision and then the reality can follow.
Archi.ru: You have a degree in art history – how has that enriched your practice as an architect? How important is this discipline for architecture students?
Caroline Bos: I think that it is very important to know history: it is a living instrument, it’s really a tool that you can use as an architect. And this is also about a more analytical, thoughtful approach. I have already talked about the relationship between theory and practice but it goes both ways. Theory should not be taught in universities in a dry way — reading books and making summaries and taking an exam, but it should really be theory of practice. That I think is the most interesting topic in architecture.
Dynamics of the Avenue
On Leningrad Avenue, not far away from the Sokol metro station, the construction of the A-Class business center Alcon II has been completed. ADM architects designed the main façade as three volumetric ribbons, as if the busy traffic of the avenue “shook” the matter sending large waves through it.
Steamer at the Pier
An apartment hotel that looks like a ship with wide decks has been designed for a land plot on a lake shore in Moscow’s South Tushino. This “steamer” house, overlooking the lake and the river port, does indeed look as if it were ready to sail away.
The Magic of Rhythm or Ornament as a Theme
Designed by Sergey Tchoban, the housing complex Veren Place in St. Petersburg is the perfect example of inserting a new building into a historical city, and one the cases of implementing the strategy that the architect presented a few years ago in the book, which he coauthored with Vladimir Sedov, called “30:70. Architecture as a Balance of Forces”.
Walking on Water
In the nearest future, the Marc Chagall Embankment will be turned into Moscow’s largest riverside park with green promenades, cycling and jogging trails, a spa center on water, a water garden, and sculptural pavilions designed in the spirit of the Russian avant-garde artists of the 1920, and, first of all, Chagall himself. In this issue, we are covering the second-stage project.
A-Len has developed and patented the “Perfect Apartments” program, which totally eliminates “bad” apartment layouts. In this article, we are sharing how this program came around, what it is about, who can benefit from it, and how.
“Architectural Archaeology of the Narkomfin Building”: the Recap
One of the most important events of 2020 has been the completion of the long-awaited restoration of the monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture – the Narkomfin Building, the progenitor of the typology of social housing in this country. The house retained its residential function as the main one, alongside with a number of artifacts and restoration clearances turned into living museum exhibits.
LIFE on the Setun River
The area in the valley of the Setun River near the Vereiskaya Street got two new blocks of the “LIFE-Kutuzovsky” housing complex, designed by ADM architects. The two new blocks have a retail boulevard of their own, and a small riverside park.
Three towers on a podium over the Ramenka River are the new dominant elements on the edge of a Soviet “microdistrict”. Their scale is quite modern: the height is 176 m – almost a skyscraper; the facades are made of glass and steel. Their graceful proportions are emphasized by a strict white grid, and the volumetric composition picks up the diagonal “grid of coordinates” that was once outlined in the southwest of Moscow by the architects of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Clouds over the Railroad
In the stead of former warehouses near “Lyubertsy-1” station, a new housing complex has been built, which peacefully coexists with the railroad, with the flyover bridge, and with the diverse surrounding scenery, not only dominating over the latter, but improving it.
Towers in a Forest
The authors of the housing complex “In the Heart of Pushkino” were faced with a difficult task: to preserve the already existing urban forest, at the same time building on it a compound of rather high density. This is how three towers at the edge of the forest appeared with highly developed public spaces in their podiums and graceful “tucks” in the crowning part of the 18-story volumes.
The Towers of “Sputnik”
Six towers, which make up a large housing complex standing on the bank of the Moskva River at the very start of the Novorizhskoe Highway, provide the answers to a whole number of marketing requirements and meets a whole number of restrictions, offering a simple rhythm and a laconic formula for the houses that the developer preferred to see as “flashy”.
The Starting Point
In this article, we are reviewing two retro projects: one is 20 years old, the other is 25. One of them is Saint Petersburg’s first-ever townhouse complex; the other became the first example of a high-end residential complex on Krestovsky Island. Both were designed and built by Evgeny Gerasimov and Partners.
The Path to New Ornamentation
The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat” situated next to a pine park at the start of the Rublev Highway presents a new stage of development of Moscow’s decorative historicist architecture: expensively decorated, yet largely based on light-colored tones, and masterfully using the romantic veneer of majolica inserts.
Renovation: the Far East Style
The competition project of renovating two central city blocks of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, developed by UNK project, won the nomination “Architectural and planning solutions of city construction”.
The Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome presents Sergei Tchoban’s exhibition “Imprint of the future. Destiny of Piranesi’s City”. The exhibition includes four etchings, based on Roman architectural views of the XVIII century complemented by futuristic insertions, as well as a lot of drawings that investigate the same topic, at times quite expressively. The exhibition poses questions, but does not seem to give any answers. Since going to Rome is pretty problematic now, let’s at least examine the pictures.
In Search of Visual Clarity
In this article, we are reviewing a discussion devoted to the question of designing city space elements, which is quite complicated for the Russian expanses of land. The discussion was organized by the Genplan Institute of Moscow at the ArchMoscow convention in Gostiny Dvor.
The City of the Sun
Jointly designed by Sergey Tchoban and Vladimir Plotkin, the VTB Arena Park complex can arguably be considered the perfect experiment on solving the centuries-old controversy between traditional architecture and modernism. The framework of the design code, combined with the creative character of the plastique-based dialogue between the buildings, formed an all-but-perfect fragment of the city fabric.
...The Other Was Just Railroad Gin*
In their project of the third stage of “Ligovsky City” housing complex, located in the industrial “gray” belt of Saint Petersburg, the KCAP & Orange Architects & A-Len consortium set before themselves a task of keeping up the genius loci by preserving the contours of the railroad and likening the volumes of residential buildings to railroad containers, stacked up at the goods unloading station.
Lions on Glass
While reconstructing the facades of Building 4 of Moscow Hospital #23, SPEECH architects applied a technique, already known from Saint Petersburg projects by Sergey Tchoban – cassettes with elements of classical architecture printed on glass. The project was developed gratis, as a help to the hospital.
Park of Sentiments
The project of “Romantic Park Tuchkov Buyan”, which was developed by the consortium of Studio 44 and WEST 8, and has won an international competition, combines sculptural landscape design and wooden structures, variety of spatial features and an eventful agenda, designed for diverse audience, with a beautiful and complex passeist idea of a palace park, meant to evoke thoughts and feelings.
Architecture as an Educational Tool
The concept of a charity school “Tochka Budushchego” (“Point of the Future”) in Irkutsk is based on cutting-edge educational programs, and is designed, among other things, for adapting orphaned children for independent life. An important role is played by the architecture of the building: its structure and different types of interconnected spaces.
The Gallery Approach
In this article, we are covering the concept of a Central District Clinic for 240 patients, designed by Ginzburg Architects, which won at a competition organized by the Architects Union and the Healthcare Ministry.
In this issue, we are publishing the concept of a standard clinic designed by UNK Project, which took second place in the competition organized by the Union of Architects of Russia in collaboration with the Healthcare Ministry.
From Foundation to Teaspoon
Based on the taste of their friendly clients, the architects Olga Budennaya and Roman Leonidov designed and built a house in the Moscow metropolitan area playing Art Nouveau. At the same time, they enriched the typology of a private house with modern functions of a garage loft and a children’s art studio.
Continuation and Development
The second “office” stage of Comcity, the most popular business park of the “New Moscow” area, continues the underground street of the already existing part of the complex, responding to its architectural identity.
The Flying One
Expected to become an analogue of Moscow’s Skolkovo, the project of the High Park campus at Saint Petersburg’s ITMO University, designed by Studio 44, mesmerizes us with its sheer scale and the passion that the architects poured into it. Its core – the academic center – is interpreted as an avant-garde composition inspired by Piazza del Campo with a bell tower; the park is reminiscent of the “rays” of the main streets of Saint Petersburg, and, if watched from a birds-eye view, the whole complex looks like a motherboard with at least four processors on it. The design of the academic building even displays a few features of a sports arena. The project has a lot of meanings and allusions about it; all of them are united by plastique energy that the hadron collider itself could be jealous of.
A Comfortable City in Itself
The project that we are about to cover is seemingly impossible amidst human anthills, chaotically interspersed with old semi-neglected dachas. Meanwhile, the housing complex built on the Comcity business part does offer a comfortable environment of decent city: not excessively high-rise and moderately private as a version of the perfect modern urbanist solution.
Moving on the Edge
The housing complex “Litsa” (“Faces”) on Moscow’s Khodynka Field is one of the new grand-scale buildings that complement the construction around it. This particular building skillfully tackles the scale, subjugating it to the silhouette and the pattern; it also makes the most of the combination of a challenging land site and formidable square footage requirements, packing a whole number of features within one volume, so the house becomes an analogue of a city. And, to cap it all, it looks like a family that securely protects the children playing in the yard from... well, from everything, really.
Visual Stability Agent
A comparatively small house standing on the border of the Bolshevik Factory combines two diametrically opposite features: expensive materials and decorative character of Art Deco, and a wide-spaced, even somewhat brutal, facade grid that highlights a laminated attic.
The Faraday Cage
The project of the boutique apartment complex in the 1st Truzhenikov Lane is the architects’ attempt to squeeze a considerable volume into a tiny spot of land, at the same time making it look graceful and respectable. What came to their rescue was metal, stone, and curvilinear glass.
The Union of Art and Technology
His interest for architecture of the 1930’s is pretty much the guiding star for Stepan Liphart. In his project of the “Amo” house on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, the architect based himself on Moscow Art Deco - aesthetically intricate and decorated in scratch-work technique. As a bonus, he developed the city block typology as an organic structure.
The project that Evgeniy Gerasimov and Partners developed for Moscow’s Leningrad Avenue: the tallest building in the company’s portfolio, continuing the tradition of Moscow’s Stalin architecture.
In the project that they developed for a southern region of Russia, OSA Architects use multilayered facades that create an image of seaside resort architecture, and, in the vein of the latest trends of today, mix up different social groups that the residents belong to.
Just a Mirror for the Sun
The house that Sergey Skuratov designed in Nikolovorobinsky Alley is thought out down to the last detail. It adapts three historical facades, interprets a feeling of a complex city, is composed of many layers, and catches plenty of sunlight, from sunrises to sunsets. The architect himself believes that the main role of this house is creating a background for another nearby project of his, Art House in the Tessinsky Alley.
Part of the Whole
On June 5, the winners of Moscow Architectural Award were announced. The winners list includes the project of a school in Troitsk for 2,100 students, with its own astronomy dome, IT testing ground, museum, and a greenhouse on the roof.
Yet another project of a private school, in which Archimatika realizes the concept of aesthetic education and introduces a new tradition: combining Scandinavian and Soviet experience, turning to works of art, and implementing sustainable technologies.
In the “Parallel House” residence that he designed in the Moscow metropolitan area, the architect Roman Leonidov created a dramatic sculptural composition from totally basic shapes – parallelepipeds, whose collision turned into an exciting show.
In the Istra district of Moscow metropolitan area, the tandem of 4izmerenie and ARS-ST designed a sports complex – a monovolume that has the shape of a chamfered parallelepiped with a pointed “nose” like a ship’s bow.
Stairway to Heaven
The project of a hotel in the settlement of Yantarny is an example of a new recreational complex typology, and a new format that unites the hotel, the business, and the cultural functions. All of this is complemented by 100% integration with nature.
Cape of Good Hope
In this issue, we are showing all the seven projects that participated in a closed-door competition to create a concept for the headquarters of Gazprom Neft, as well as provide expert opinions on those projects.