Lofts in the Park

  • contemporary architecture

On the north of Moscow, "Homeland Group" is designing the apart-complex "Loft Park" - an up-to-date city block in "loft" style, bordering on an oak park and the famous Golovinskiye Ponds.


The new city block is built on the spot of the former fine-cloth factory "Iokish" (in the Soviet time, it was called "Moscow fine-cloth factory named after Peter Alekseev), whose main building overlooks the Mikhalkovskaya Street. With a total area of more than 6 hectares, the production facilities occupied the entire space between this street and the Maly Goloninsky Pond, immediately neighboring on the large park. Actually, it was for the better part, the immediate surroundings of the factory that led to its conversion: it will be easier on the natural complex if the production is withdrawn from here, and, for the future housing project, such a location is definitely an asset. At the same time, the industrial past of this land site lead the commissioner to the idea of creating a residential complex in the style of "loft" that is much in style nowadays.

The face of the new city block will be the long Building 1 that stretches along the Mikhalkovskaya Street. Today, this is a rather bleak bearing-wall affair of the 1960's that "Homeland Group" is turning into a building sporting a dramatic multi-dimensional facade. Using the clinker brick as their main cladding material, the architects supplement it with metallic and rock inserts combining them in orders and thereby giving individuality to the window apertures of each floor. The attic floor is at the same time accentuated with a facing of patinated copper, while the brick partitions are bound metallic bars. The palette of textures and materials set by this building is used in this or that respect in all the design solutions of all the other buildings of "Loft Park", even though the authors never repeat themselves directly, designing new "clothes" for each one of them. We will also note here that, while the first floor of the building is completely occupied by the public functions and consists in fact of wide showcases turned onto the Mikhalkovskaya Street, the first floors of all the other buildings are residential and the very "on the ground" location of the apartments is used by the architects for providing separate entrance hallways and improved adjoining areas.

Totally, Loft Park will consist of 9 residential buildings - as is often the case, though, not all of them are the true monuments of the industrial architecture. The 150-year-old factory was many times rebuilt, and up to the day of the current reconstruction only one building has survived, that is recognized as a particularly valuable one - the so-called "Building 2.1", situated on the second housing line parallel to the Mikhailovskaya Street. And, while the large part of the volumes the architects actually build anew, preserving their original shop planning and appearance, this building get special treatment from "Homeland Group" - they carefully restore it, cleansing and refurbishing the original bricks, keeping the existing window apertures and the main inside structures.

In fact, the only radical change that is introduced here is the neat balconies for the air conditioners that the architects design as narrow as possible and execute from black metal so as to minimize their presence on the red-brick facade. The authors take a little more liberty when handling the later-on annex to this building: its facades are supplemented with vertical fracturing that is made by virtue of using the wooden pillars of various sections, while the roof gets landscaped and improved so as to become one of the main public spaces of this new city block. Besides the recreational spots that of a rather traditional kind, such as benches and playgrounds, there will also be a rock-climbing wall here - it will be made out of a historical building's firewall that adjoins the habitable roof.

Yet another element of the factory that is kept completely intact is the boiling house, together with its chimney. In the project of "Loft Park" it becomes not only a significant landmark but also the place where the business activity of the block will be centered about - around it, the architects build a hanging block of offices.

Also, in a rather unconventional way some blind side walls of the former factory buildings are used: for example, the street-facing side wall of Building 11-12 is covered with an image of Albrecht Dürer mural painting which is reproduced by screen printing on glass panels. When asked, why Dürer was specifically chosen for that image, the architects smile and answer that, the way they see it, his paintings perfectly match the "loft" aesthetic.

The green area that is raised above the ground is by no means Loft Park's only park. The architects were very keen to ensure that its territory should not look like a prison cell, surrounded by a park. On the contrary, the concept of improvement is built on the idea that it looks like the natural complex casts its green protuberances into Loft Park. The main ones of them are the improved area of the pond banks with the fully-glazed volume of the restaurant and the central pedestrian promenade (it is this particular building that gets an extra "dimension" from the landscaped roof) - however, between all the nine buildings the architects make green chains at least one tree wide. The place for planting trees and tall shrubs was found on yet another roof - one that covers the square-layout Building 6 whose facade overlooks the Mikhailovskaya Street - as well as at the wide open gallery that connects, at the second floor level, the longest buildings of the complex.

Text by: Yulia Podolska, Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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