Court of Honor with a Chimney

  • contemporary architecture

"Studio 44" won the tender for the project of a residential complex on the embankment of the Karpovka River. In their proposal, the team of Nikita Yavein develops the traditional Saint Petersburg theme of a house with a court of honor.


The object of design was the land site at the crossing of the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue and the Karpovka Embankment. Once this site had on it the F.A.Meltser Furniture and Joinery Factory whose two buildings have survived into the present, recently acquiring the status of newly discovered architectural monuments. The site sports other monuments of architecture as well: "Korlyakov House", for example, is a sample (that miraculously survived into the present) of low-rise buildings of the Aptekarsky Island from the times when it was a summer home suburb, as well as the cinema theater "Grand Palace" that was last rebuilt in 19121913. Both the factory buildings and the two "chamber" historical houses were not just to be kept intact but made an integral part of the future residential block. This, however, did not exhaust the list of the tasks laid before the architects. Just as important was maintaining the scale and the statuary order of the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue - one of Saint Petersburg's most imposing streets - Nikita Yavein shares. - On the other hand, we sought to ensure that the new architecture should absorb not only the characteristic features of the buildings of the Petrograd side, but also the special color palette of this place, with its red-brick industrial color style. The challenge posed by such a special place was answered by the project proposed by "Studio 44".

Uniting, into a single composition, several volumes, so much different in scale and style, the architects predictably treated the new complex as a large concise shape that fills the gap in the city fabric and serves as the background for the historical buildings. The facades of "Korlyakov House" and "Grand Palace" are carefully restored - the former turns into a cafe, the latter becomes part of the retail premises of the newly built complex. At the same time, along the red line of the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue, the architects deliberately leave to stand these two little houses alone - the facade wall of the new complex recedes 3 meters into the construction site, which allows for accentuating the volumes of the monument buildings and visually enhance their depth.

However, as far as the factory buildings are concerned, their front facades also are restored, and the construction together with all the structural elements, including the load-bearing walls, the stairs and even the columns, are preserved, which makes it possible to create inside large-dimension apartments a la loft. The restored red-brick walls also look as if they grow out of the "body" of the new volume; however, their merging does not look stilted because the architectural solution of the new buildings is in fact the modern interpretation of the industrial style. The laconic plastic of the facades, coated by brick or natural stone, is diversified only by the differently designed window apertures (in the form of French balconies and the niches, sunk into the plane of the wall), and the inclined walls of two upper levels, into which recessed balconies are cut. This trapeze-shaped silhouette, in spite of its geometric generality, accurately matches the scale of the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue, making the new houses noticeable in the panoramas of the street without being discordant with them.

The sense of continuity is enhanced by the overall compositional solution chosen by "Studio 44" for the new residential complex. It is specifically in area of the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue and the Karpovka Embankment that, in the early XX century, the architects finally decided to break open the front of the street housing and started to build houses with courts of honor. This planning seems to us advantageous both from the compositional standpoint and from the economic one as well, and this is why we decided to use this specific type of planning in our project" - Nikita Yavein shares. In the plan, the complex resembles the sign of square root with a bent tail, or the letters V and I, connected on top by a lath in such a way that between them, there appears the wide court of a rectangular layout. However, since the V in its sharpening comes out precisely to the crossroads of the avenue and the embankment, the court of honor is completely opened to the Karpovka. From the reverse side, inside the "V", there appears yet another courtyard, but its triangular form and small size predetermined the creation of an atrium here.

A court of honor indeed provides a whole lot of benefits: besides the dramatic and really statuary composition that the house gets together with such kind of court, it allows for combining dense housing with a great insolation and helps provide the maximum number of apartments with great viewing properties. What is also important is the fact that in the megalopolis conditions such a house gets an improved and landscaped adjacent territory of its own - that, at the same time, actively interacts with the city environment. Probably, the only thing that makes the XXI century court of honor different from its historical prototype is its communication purpose - Nikita Yavein continues - While in the day past it was meant for the access of the equipages to the front doors, now that the underground parking lots are quite common, there is no necessity for that. The court becomes the place of leisure and strolls of the tenants of house.

The overall size of the designed court of honor - 18 x 80 meters with the height of the cornices of the surrounding buildings at the level of 17.5 meters - also completely corresponds to the historical prototypes, allowing the architects to create a comfortable space with classic proportions. .Its semantic and aesthetic centerpiece is the red-brick chimney - yet another element that the new residential complex has inherited from the factory building and that is carefully restored by "Studio 44", while from the embankment the court is separated by a massive portico, also made of brick.

As for the second courtyard, it is planned, as was already mentioned, to brace it on the level of the second floor and make small front gardens next to the apartments of this level. Under these private small gardens, there will be arranged the commercial areas, for illuminating which the architects have devised a spectacular zenith lamp.

Text by: Nikita Yavein, Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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