Office Drive

  • contemporary architecture

"SPEECH Choban&Kuznetsov" Bureau continues with the implementation of the interior design project for the offices of VTB Bank in the "Federation" Complex. Yet another, the 59th floor is completed.


The difference between the 59th floor and the other levels consists in the fact that here, besides the six comfortable office blocks, there is also a cluster of executive premises. The latter includes a few spacious halls and occupies one of the corners of the tower. The main space is used for the multifunctional hall of the board of directors that neighbors on a large dining hall and a waiting room for the guests of the bank. For each of these zones, "SPEECH Choban&Kuznetsov" bureau found a dedicated palette of interesting solutions.


The hall of the board of directors can in fact be used in two modes: for organizing panel sessions and for organizing conferences. In the former case the large rectangular table, with a capacity of 22 persons and equipped with all the necessary means of audio and video support, is used in the normal operation mode, while in the latter case, when the larger part of the hall, the one that adjoins the glass facade, is turned into an auditorium, it transforms. Half of the tabletop folds vertically downward, while the table itself turns into the presidium stand turned to the audience. In order to accent the table area in either of the two using modes, the walls and the ceiling around it are coated with wooden panels that form a peculiar shell or a capsule with rounded corners, a shell that looks as if it was installed inside the hall. A special effect is also created by the lights that dissect the wooden shell of the capsule like parallel stripes. The finishing touch is made by the glass panel painting that decorates the rear wall of the hall and depicts a deep blue sky, white clouds, and the logo of VTB. It is in fact made up of four flare-free glass panels that cover up the monitors that are only visible when they are on.


The room that is adjacent to the board of directors' hall can also be used in several ways: as the before-the-session waiting room and as the dining room for the members of the board, to name but two. Its main decoration consists of two art objects vying for the right to be considered the centerpiece of this interior: the sculptural volume that resembles an arrested pillar of liquid metal (it disguises a most trivial column), and the impressive-looking chandelier with a hundred of little glass balls that look like water drops that are never to reach the tabletop. For the production of the metallic shell of the column, a unique alloy of white bronze was used, the kind that only one Italian company works with. The two halves of the shell were cast by the original plaster model, and then welded and polished only on the spot. This art object makes the interior of the dining room more dramatic and at the same makes the atmosphere in the dining room more relaxed because it also works as a funhouse mirror.


The chandelier in the shape of the glass rain was designed in conjunction with the table and together they present a single composition for the creation of which the architects even had to make changes to the structure of the lowered ceiling. Out of the narrow opening with curved edges (the plaster shapes are installed into the ceiling), there hang little glass balls, suspended on thin metallic rods that form a "wave" that falls the lowest towards the center of he table and "picks up" at its edges. The function of the source of light is performed here by a fiber-optic technology that provides the floodlight effect producing the impression of the entire structure hovering in the air.


The remaining part of the floor, including the corridors and the offices, is designed just as imposing, even if a bit more pragmatic. The functional and the typological differences of the new floor left their mark on its deigning solution. The basic principle - the contrastive combination of wooden and glass walls - is kept here as well but it is treated here in an entirely different way. Most of the walls here are coated with panels of bleached oak (it is only the reception areas that are separated from the corridors with glass partitions that have the dark wooden portals cut into them), whose color and texture are accentuated by the dramatic light design and more radical color design of the ceiling (black perforated open-grid type). In spite of the fact that the materials are so respectable and traditional, in the best sense of the word, the office looks a little like it had been taken out of some sci-fi movie - first of all, because of the lights that are installed into the walls and the ceiling. The position and the width of each of the dome lights is defined by a grid of parallel lines superimposed on the plan of the floor: it traverses at different angles the ceiling structures and the walls of the corridors that skirt the central stair and elevator unit, thanks to which the surfaces of the walls and the accent elements (the lines on the carpet, the ceiling panels, and he dome lights) look as if the belong to different space systems. This creates a peculiar optical effect of a "transformable space" that is multiplied manifold at the expense of the reflections in the glass partitions.


The lights inserted into the wooden panels became a constituent part of the original wall covering. The considerable length of the corridors required a solution that was to be simultaneously aesthetic, technological, and inexpensive. So, instead of mounting the bleached oak panels horizontally (which would require particular precision at the joints; this solution was in fact used on the lower floors), it was decided to mount the panels vertically, from the floor up to the level of the lowered ceiling. The architects developed a special bracing that could easily hold the panels under their own weight: each of the panels has rounded edges and is mounted overlapping its neighbor, which, coupled with the illuminant inserts, creates an interesting play of light all along the length of the corridor.


A most important role in the interior decoration is played by the unconventional design of the ceilings. Here the architects used the open-grid ceilings with cells that are filled with black cassettes. Usually such "brutal" structures are used in public spaces of a lower profile but in this case their use is not due to the economy reasons. The Hunter Douglas panels that are installed here have small-scaled cells and extra perforation of the laths - which creates a monolith structural surface. They, in turn, conceal the vents (also painted black), the electrical wiring, and other technical units necessary for supporting a comfortable microclimate in the office. Behind the ceiling panels they are practically invisible, but the permeable surface creates an interesting visual effect - the ceiling looks much higher that it actually is.

Text by: Sergei Tchoban, Sergey Kouznetsov, Elena Petukhova
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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