Sergey Trukhanov: "The shape must be conditioned by its environment".

The leader of "T+T Architects" Bureau on his working fundamentals and the recent project done by his team.

author pht

Interviewed by:
Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

03 June 2013

Archi.ru: When was "T+T Architects" founded?

Sergey Trukhanov: From the formal standpoint, our company is quite young: it was founded early in 2012. But the team of which I am the leader, came together a lot earlier: for a number of years, we all worked as part of another bureau. Some of the projects that we had started back then were later on completed under the new brand and were rightfully included into the portfolio of "T+T Architects".

Archi.ru: As far as I understand, the name of the bureau is in no way associated with your second name?

Sergey Trukhanov: "T+T" stands for "transparent territory". This simple formula reflects the essence of our approach to doing our architectural projects. The transparency and openness of all our project solutions, their being motivated and understandable to our client, our contractor, and our end consumer is something that we place our main bet on. The architecture of the building, as well as its social and functional program, must be reasoned by its environment, its logistics, its aesthetic and social value, and everything that nowadays is usually referred to as "context". Probably it's mainly because of this that our projects cannot boast some outstanding style, characteristic of us alone. We do not have the goal of manifesting our "architectural ego" in each of our projects, even though I do not think this is such a bad thing.

Archi.ru: Then how would you describe your architecture?

Sergey Trukhanov: Speaking of our architectural and interior design projects, I would say that we try to make each one of them as dynamic as possible. We are not attracted by the structures that are sort of "a thing in itself" and exist apart from the city and its people; forts are definitely not our typology. We have a lot more of a soft spot for the projects like "White Square" - a complex on a tiny strip of land that feels like Manhattan on a miniature scale.


Courtyard of "Studio #8"

Archi.ru: In other words, you put the environment that you create above the shape that you do?

Sergey Trukhanov: I would say, interaction of the object with its environment is more important than its shape. The shape must be conditioned by its environment, not the other way around. In this sense, we are the big advocates of the approach when any project is regarded as a set of clear-cut, logical, and consistent diagrams - think Bjarke Ingels to mention but one name. It's a very simple process, actually: first we take a cube in a windswept field and then transform it with regard to the insolation, the wind rose, the viewing properties, the traffic and the pedestrian flow chart. Superimposing one group of factors over another, we are getting the required matrix, and architecture stops being something divine and mysterious - it becomes a logical science that can be learned and understood. In our work we try to guide ourselves by these fundamentals. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "any scientist that can't explain to a six-year old what he's doing is a charlatan".

Archi.ru: I was just about to ask you if the English name of your company signifies your adherence to the principles of the contemporary western architecture. According to my observations, you do have the principles of somebody who learned or practiced in a western bureau.

Sergey Trukhanov: There are no "western" or "Russian" principles of architecture, they are all the same. There is a context in which these principles are to be implemented, and this context can indeed vary dramatically. One must correlate to the other, otherwise your project, be it a building or an interior design, will inevitably turn into a mere "art object". And it doesn't matter what school you went to - what matters for us is whether our employee is really ready to learn and grow, whether he is committed to excellence. At T+T, we have the graduates of Moscow Institute of Architecture, and of Moscow State University of Civil Engineering - but this does not mean that we do not try to be always updated on the latest trends of Russian and the world's architecture.

How does you bureau work? Do you have working groups, or do you attend personally to each and every project?

Sergey Trukhanov: We are a full-cycle bureau, i.e. we start with the architectural proposals and concepts, and our job is finished when the last light has been installed. T+T Architects Bureau consists in fact of two independent divisions - the architectural design headed by Alexander Brovkin, and the interior design headed by Vladimir Chukanov. Each of these two divisions consists of several working groups with Alexander and Vladimir supervising the results of their work. As for myself, I, of course have to give the formal approval to each of the projects but I do not always elaborate each and every detail. We do not run an "author" architectural bureau, and one of the things that we surely don't have is the "stylistic dictatorship". What we do have is our common ideology and construction norms and rules. Our every concept is the result of joint discussions and making collective decisions.

Archi.ru: What qualities should an architect possess to get a job at your bureau?

Sergey Trukhanov: What I value in people most is their active attitude - from a personal and from a professional standpoint. Meaning - we do not hire the "give me the exact instructions for what to do" type. Plus - these should be people that are ready and willing to withstand the mad tempo of our work - simply because the basic pool of our orders is not supposed to stay in the pre-design phase for long. We have not yet designed large-scale agglomerations, our main specialty being the projects of redeveloping former industrial buildings to fit the current needs, office complexes, and commercial interiors, i.e. projects that have rigorous and contract-stipulated deadlines that we simply cannot violate. I am not the direct advocate of the age limit idea but we generally hire young people. The architects who are past forty and who have a Soviet "Project Institute" background generally cannot withstand our tempo.

Archi.ru: You mentioned redevelopment projects. When studying the portfolio of T+T Architects at you website, I noticed that they do prevail among your implementations. Do you consider this "genre" your main specialty?

Sergey Trukhanov: We never deliberately set a goal to specialize in this area but renovating old buildings proved to be just as exciting as designing new ones. Besides, what is always exciting is the challenge to preserve the already-formed house planning, breathe a new life into the old building in the contemporary reality. This is why our clients enjoy working with us in this genre. In particular, we highly value our cooperation with the company "KR Properties" for which we did a number of such projects. In 2010, for example, we did a concept for renovating a milling plant in Orenburg that was later on awarded the prize of International commercial property awards. Right now we are taking an active part in the renovation project of the "Danilovskaya Manufactura" factory building, doing both the exterior and interior remodeling. Plus right now we are finishing the implementation of a very interesting project of improving the courtyards of the building that is in fact the HQ of KR Properties themselves. The asymmetric elongated strip of land, practically "locked up" from all sides by the facades of the adjacent buildings - we were able to turn it into a thought-through cozy territory by virtue of using the various green zones, foot walks, partially exposing the sunk-in windows of the basement floor, and making recreation spaces.


Interior of the public spaces of the business center "Danilovskaya Manufactura 1867"

Territory of the office center of KR Properties

We are also very proud of the project of the loft block "Studio #8" that has just been awarded the honorary diploma of the "Golden Section 2013". This is a reconstruction of the factory building in the Airport driveway that will be turned into an apartment complex. According to the specifications, we were to keep the construction footprints intact and all of the buildings that were possible to keep and renovate. Plus - the land site is immediately adjacent to the residential complex "Triumph Palace" whose aesthetics and dimensions we were to offset in a graceful unobtrusive manner. We solved this challenge at the expense of the roof that we turned in fact into a new facade. And in order to avoid competing with this high-rise either in the grade of the housing or in the typology we did our project in the loft aesthetic, like an up-to-date European country house.


Loft block "Studio 8"

Reconstruction project of a milling factory in the city of Orenburg

Archi.ru: In this sense, there is a lot of charisma about your office - Roof Point on the Luzhnetskaya Embankment. Could you please share how it came about that the office of the architectural bureau is also a showroom and a media venue at the same time?

Sergey Trukhanov: We think that our office is the perfect reflection of our approach: it is transparent, laconic, and understandable at first sight. When we first found ourselves in that loft, we were stricken by its giant window commanding the view of the Luzhniki Stadium and the Moscow City, as well as by its open structures and the opportunity to use the roof. We removed all the partitions and the annexes that were left from the previous owners, and then we saw the girders of the wooden structure of the roof that ultimately became one of the key design elements, just as the original wooden floors from the floor boards that had been hidden under the carpet in their "previous" life. Why the media venue? Well, we thought that it would be a shame to hide such a place because it lends itself to meetings, panel discussions, and communication. Plus we wanted to create a venue where people could discuss various issues and prove their viewpoints unhindered by the constraints of the corporate culture.


Interior of the office "Roof point"

Interior of the office "Roof point"

Archi.ru: Generally, how important is the social function for you? Do you purposefully include it into you projects?

Sergey Trukhanov: We always try to do that if our customer goes for it. One of the main goals of the project "Studio #8" that we set for ourselves was making this block as open as possible to the passers-by, give the "address" to the object, turn the "squeezed" streets and territory spots into improved places where the tenants could take a rest or go for walks. Also, very interesting for us was the housing projects of the land site across from "Bagrationovskaya" metro station, along Barclay Street. today, this is a wasteland, through which the local people go from the metro station to their houses. The plot is "in the encumbrance", meaning - the investor is required to build something for the city here, and we were to come up with the idea just what it could be. First of all, we kept and legalized this already-existing passage along this axis, and placed a multi-level public space with cafes, shops, numerous passages, and terraces. What we ultimately got was a building that was all transparent, see-through, safe, and dramatic.


City square at Barclay Street in Moscow

Archi.ru: A very optimistic project for Moscow, don't you think?

Sergey Trukhanov: I believe that little strokes fell great oaks, you know. We will offer to build something of this kind. Other architects will. And ultimately somebody will get lucky to actually build a project like this. One day Moscow will start turning into a city that is convenient to live in. Like I said, the very context will start changing.

Archi.ru: Meaning - generally you are optimistic of Moscow's future?

Sergey Trukhanov: In today's Moscow, the architecture suffers a lot because the implementation budgets are always being cut. This is how usually it goes: you develop a concept, show it to your client, and he goes: "Wow! Fantastic! Uhh... Can we build this beauty for three kopecks?" You answer that, no, we cannot. That is, they have the guts to accept a daring concept but they do not want to spend the money. The companies that operate differently are very few indeed but they are there, and it inspires some certain optimism. The regions have a reverse problem: people are really afraid to approve daring projects to implementation while the budgets sometimes exceed Moscow ones. Such a vicious circle!

Generally, it is hard to speak about any quality of the project if it is expected to bring the return on investment within 5 years at the most. To me, this is an inconceivably short term. The ideology of "temporary workers" really has a negative effect - hence the total economy on implementation which ultimately makes a negative difference in the quality of the buildings. In Europe, there is a multitude of schemes that help bring the payback period earlier. I really hope to survive into the time when such schemes will work in Russia - and then we will be able to apply the "European" principles to the fullest.


03 June 2013

author pht

Interviewed by:

Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
comments powered by HyperComments
Headlines now
​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.
​Architectural Laboratory
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.
​Celestial Tectonics
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 Contact
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.
Health Constructor
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.
​The Aperture Effect
For a housing complex built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow metropolitan area, KPLN Architects designed facades that adjust the stream of light by using the wall geometry.
​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.
Color and Line
The new successful techniques developed by A.Len for designing a kindergarten under budget constraints: the mosaic of irregular windows and working with color.
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 Countdown
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.
White Town
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.
Pedagogical Architecture
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.
​Rational Arrangement
In this article, we are examining a complex of buildings and interiors of the first stage of the project that has recently become extremely popular – the Kommunarka clinic.
​Parallel Universe
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.