Taking part in the contest for the project of the second stage of construction of "Empire Tower" Complex, the architectural group DNK treated the last unfinished building on the Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment as a laconic-shape volume with dramatic and expresive facades.
Written by: Anna Martovitskaya Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The contest for the construction on the land site "MoscowCity"
next to the 60-floor "EmpireTower" on the
Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment was already covered by our website. This area has
quite a long story behind it: projects of a most diverse nature have been
designed for it at various times. This circumstance is to be seen not only on
paper - for example, the underground and some of the above-ground levels of a
once-approved aqua park have long since been actually built in concrete. Due to
the fact that now the investor has made a decision to place here the public
multifunctional premises, as well as a car park, the above-ground part will be
dismantled, while the existing underground part will remain unchanged, and, in the
capacity of the parking garage, will be put into operation in the nearest
future. This is why one of the contest specifications was the task of
integrating the underground part with its surface exits into the new building.
Panorama of the construction site in "Moscow City"
Panorama of "Moscow City" with the insert of the contest proposal
The architects of DNK group opted out of building their solution around
the "catchy" curved shape, and chose a fundamentally different and
austere geometry. "We proceeded from the fact that Moscow City is full of
unusual shapes as it is, so we thought that yet another strangely shaped
building would be too much, all the more so because this building is smaller
than its neighbors, and its reserved character will help it to be in proportion
with its surroundings, will add some importance to it, - explains their choice
one of the founders of DNK Natalie Sidorova - Plus, the implementation budget
was very-very tight, so it is just not meant to cover any large-scale
experiments with the shapes".
The dimensions of the construction footprint of an almost square shape
of 90 x 75 meters,
and the reasons having to do with finding the optimum depth of the building
necessitated dividing the conditional parallelepiped into two blocks with a lit
space between them. The latter was positioned perpendicular to the embankment -
it is this particular position that lets all the interior spaces of the
building get a river-commanding view. Both blocks were encased in a single
casing in order to conform to the dimensions of the surrounding skyscrapers.
Thus, between the two buildings, a spacious atrium appeared, a "visual
corridor" of sorts that connects the embankment and the "EmpireTower"
standing on the second construction line. The architects deliberately centered
the complex strictly along the axis with the 60-floor high-rise, connecting in
this way the two parts of the "EmpireTower" and enhancing
their connection. The new volume is similar to propylaea, a sort of the
proverbial Acropolis Propulsion before the high-rise. On the other side, the
plan of the atrium that narrows in towards the center and widens out towards
the exits - like a concave lens - conceptually echoes the "trademark"
oval niche on the main facade of "EmpireTower"
skyscraper and provides for a better river view from most of its premises.
One of the main tasks of the competition was creating the new public
territory integrated into the single pedestrian structure of "MoscowCity"
and leveling out almost a 5-meter height difference between the embankment and
the entrance to "EmpireTower" high-rise. In
the architectural discussions it was repeatedly noted that the MoskvaRiver
is under-engaged into forming the public territories and a fully-fledged
riverside promenade is all but a rare sight in Moscow. MoscowCity
complex had every opportunity to repair the omission but one cannot really say
that the already-built buildings succeeded in that. This is why the DNK
architects laid particular stress on turning the embankment into the project
priority, setting the goal of breathing life into it. In their project, the
inner passage is not confined inside the building - it spills out onto the
embankment in large two-level terraces with cafes and restaurants. As for the
passage, DNK made it inclined, thus providing a direct link between the
embankment and MoscowCity with no moving
staircase, in the shape of a natural landscape. The wide "terrace"
promenade is oriented along the axis of "EmpireTower" skyscraper, and it leads
from the embankment up to the high-rise's entrance and further on into the
center of MoscowCity. The inner "stairs",
interconnected with spiral ramps, have on them various planting and landscape
elements. Along the street, cafes and shops are situated; the
"high-profile" entrance lobbies of the upper tier of the
multifunctional "towers" also have their exits here, and one gets
easy access to MoscowCity system of pedestrian
The view of the complex from the embankment
Inside covered passage
In spite of the fact that it is in fact the second construction stage of
"EmpireTower" high-rise, the
"dress" of the new volume is fundamentally different from it. The
least "exposed" northern and western facades are executed almost
flat, while the eastern one has a "stepping" structure which
accentuates the corner position of the complex: in the construction array of
the embankment and starting from "Bagration" bridge, the new building
will be in fact the first one in the row. As for the southern facade that faces
the river, its main theme is all about fracturing into vertical fragments that
are meant to introduce the "intermediate" scale between the streets
and the tower upon this, rather extended, surface. In fact, the architects
piece it together from grilled fragments the width of which is equal to the
width of the atrium - which allows for articulating the overall structure of
the building more clearly. What is important is the fact that each of such
fragments DNK places at a slight angle, and this seemingly simple technique
helps give the building a more "chamber", transitional-scale
character and adds extra dynamics to the embankment: when viewed from one side,
the asymmetric movement is more prominent, and when viewed from the other side
- less active.
According to the authors of the project, they treated the facade rather
like a "windowed wall", reasoning that, for the embankment that
serves as a sort of buffer between the city and the island of skyscrapers, the
plastics of the pylons introduce the detailed design that is necessary for the
building to be adequately perceived from the pedestrian level, as opposed to
the predominantly flat surfaces of Moscow City high-rises. According to the
initial plan, DNK were to even dress this "wall" into stone but later
on they opted in favor of a more subtle solution - the opaque structured glass
in the framework of polished steel with "windows" made of glass of a
slightly greenish hue.
The authors paid a lot of attention to the development of the optimum
functional structure of the building: the car parks are compactly placed on the
four floors in the back part of the building, further away from the river, so
as to free the facades with river views or the offices; the ramp in the parking
garage at the corner of the building is made unheated which provides for
substantial savings on the energy consumption; the positioning of the vertical
communication nuclei allows people to easily move around the building - in
particular, the parking garage provides easy access to any of the floors; the
two blocks feature the optimum depth from the light front to the communication
nucleus, and the convenient for the commercial use area of 2000 square meters
with free planning; most of the maintenance premises are located in the central
"dark" part of the basement floor; the technological loads and
communications of the shops and restaurants are designed in such a way that
they do not cross with the main public areas.
Plan on the level of the inside street
Plan of the car parking floor (left). Plan of the typical floor (right).
The project answers all the specifications of integrating the new
building into the existing underground levels. For instance, the architects
were able to keep intact all the numerous underground emergency staircases
leading to the embankment level. It should be mentioned here that not all of
the contestants were able to meet this condition. According to the construction
plan, for the transition from one column spacing to another, the project
provides a ribbed relieving platform that, due to its thinness, allows for
using the space beneath it to the fullest, while the spaced-out positioning of
the building nuclei and the columns kept the structure of the underground
parking with no losses of the parking stalls.
Landscaping of the territory between the building and the embankment and
creating a covered passage is not all what the theme of public spaces is about.
DNK decided that the new complex needs them just as much as the city, and this
is how an oasis of their very own was granted to the tenants of the second
stage of "EmpireTower". The atrium
sports a stepping structure and is treated as a nice little courtyard that
opens up to the river panorama. "The quality of the environment seems to
us just as important as the quality of the space that arises in the city with
the advent of the new building - explains Natalia Sidorova. - Only by forming a
single environment within and without, we achieve the balance between the
interests of the investors and the interests of the city, which, in our
opinion, is the key to a successful project".
Agility of the Modular
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
Polyphony of a Chaste Style
The “ID Moskovskiy” housing project on St. Petersburg’s Moscow Avenue was designed by the team of Stepan Liphart in the past 2020. The ensemble of two buildings, joined by a colonnade, is executed in a generalized neoclassical style with elements of Art Deco.
In Three Voices
The high-rise – 41 stories high – housing complex HIDE is being built on the bank of the Setun River, near the Poklonnaya Mountain. It consists of three towers of equal height, yet interpreted in three different ways. One of the towers, the most conspicuous one looks as if it was twisted in a spiral, composed of a multitude of golden bay windows.
In the Space of Pobedy Park
In the project of a housing complex designed by Sergey Skuratov, which is now being built near the park of the Poklonnaya Hill, a multifunctional stylobate is turned into a compound city space with intriguing “access” slopes that also take on the role of mini-plazas. The architecture of the residential buildings responds to the proximity of the Pobedy Park, on the one hand, “dissolving in the air”, and, on the other hand, supporting the memorial complex rhythmically and color-wise.
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.
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“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
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The Path to New Ornamentation
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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
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...The Other Was Just Railroad Gin*
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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
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The Union of Art and Technology
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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.