Portal of the "Empire"

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.

author pht

Written by:
Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

14 June 2013
Architectural concept of the mixed-use development “Empire Tower – Second Stage” as part of “Moscow City”
Russia, Moscow

Project Team:
DNK architects: Daniel Lorenz, Natalia Sidorova, Konstantin Khodnev, Anna Baranova, Maria Kochurkina, Andrew Taranukha, Chief designer: Alexander Zuckerman. Engineer: “KIM-SH” (Engex). Concept of fire safety: Oleg Laev. Visualization: KEYLIGHT


The contest for the construction on the land site "Moscow City" next to the 60-floor "Empire Tower" 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 "Empire Tower" 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 "Empire Tower" 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 "Empire Tower" 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 "Moscow City" and leveling out almost a 5-meter height difference between the embankment and the entrance to "Empire Tower" high-rise. In the architectural discussions it was repeatedly noted that the Moskva River is under-engaged into forming the public territories and a fully-fledged riverside promenade is all but a rare sight in Moscow. Moscow City 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 Moscow City with no moving staircase, in the shape of a natural landscape. The wide "terrace" promenade is oriented along the axis of "Empire Tower" skyscraper, and it leads from the embankment up to the high-rise's entrance and further on into the center of Moscow City. 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 Moscow City system of pedestrian underpasses.


The view of the complex from the embankment

Inside covered passage

Cross-sectional plan

In spite of the fact that it is in fact the second construction stage of "Empire Tower" 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.


Longitudinal section

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 "Empire Tower". 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".

View of city from the rooftop restaurant


Architectural concept of the mixed-use development “Empire Tower – Second Stage” as part of “Moscow City”
Russia, Moscow

Project Team:
DNK architects: Daniel Lorenz, Natalia Sidorova, Konstantin Khodnev, Anna Baranova, Maria Kochurkina, Andrew Taranukha, Chief designer: Alexander Zuckerman. Engineer: “KIM-SH” (Engex). Concept of fire safety: Oleg Laev. Visualization: KEYLIGHT


14 June 2013

author pht

Written by:

Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
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.
​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.