A Mall with an Overpass

  • contemporary architecture

On Leningrad highway, the second stage of the multi-purpose complex "Metropolis" is underway. The facades of this building were designed by UNK project.


Located near "Voikovskaya" metro station, "Metropolis" is considered to be Moscow's arguably most successful multi-purpose complex and shopping mall. Its location, architecture, and a wide range of goods and services on offer - all of this provides for a great public demand and high critical acclaim from the experts. However, even the most in-demand shopping mall cannot stay at the zenith of fame too long: such a super-dynamic megalopolis as Moscow always imposes new requirements to such complexes, so the construction of the second building of "Metropolis" was only a question of time. 

Multi-purpose complex on the Leningrad Highway

Initially, the new building was designed by the British bureau DunnettCraven that treated this project as a "thing in itself" of a self-sufficient shape and with bright but dull facades. True, it looked great that way but it did not correlate either with its immediate surroundings or with any of the surrounding highways, so the commissioner made a decision to organize a dedicated closed tender for the design solutions of the future complex. This contest was won by UNK project, and this year in July it got the approval of Moscow Architectural Council. 

As the chief architect and the co-founder of UNK Project Julius Borisov shares, the idea of developing, in the facades of "Metropolis-2", the design solution of the already-existing complex was discarded by the authors of the project practically from the very start. One of the main arguments against it was the length of the facade of the new building - it is almost twice as long as the existing one's, and, had these two planes visually merged into one, the Leningrad Avenue would have got a giant "hedge" building. 

Multi-purpose complex on the Leningrad Highway

Being a deliberate contrast to its immediate neighbor, though, the building of the second stage is highly responsive to the context of the Leningrad Highway in general. Specifically, an important starting point that the architects were using was the Stalin-era buildings on the opposite side of the highway - the cornice mark of these buildings (28 meters) is reflected in the new volume with the modern but very clearly articulated cornice. "What was a must-do for us was reflect the clear vertical rhythm that is inherent to the Leningrad Highway as to no other Moscow highway - Julius Borisov shares - this is why one of the main themes of the facade is the lamellae of varying breadth that are also positioned at varying distances from one another". These elements that are going to be executed from metal or architectural concrete, visually fracture the lengthy facade giving it a more dynamic look and thus making it "sound in tune" with the never-sleeping Leningrad Highway. 

Multi-purpose complex on the Leningrad Highway

The harmony between the new complex and its surroundings is also achieved by its horizontal fracturing - the facades are made up of three wide belts that unobtrusively conceal the true number of its floors. Two of these belts are executed from glass. At the bottom level, this will help to maximally open up the building to the city (in the direct sense of this word in the summertime and only visually in winter), as well as to provide for the necessary advertising for the ground-floor businesses and thus spare the facades of the complex from huge billboards and LED screens. On the top floor, the panoramic glazing also comes in handy: it is the restaurant and the garden areas that are situated there. As for the central belt, it is executed from natural stone of a dark-brown color. In contrast with it, work the above-mentioned lamellae that the architects propose to paint a light-coffee hue. The interaction of these materials is not limited to their colors, though - UNK Project offsets the polished stone surface with a sophisticated structure of the metallic panels. The multi-angle ornament that forms its basis looks like textured skin that the handbags of many expensive brands are made of. 

Multi-purpose complex on the Leningrad Highway

Exactly the same style - the dark-brown stone and light-colored textured metallic panels - is applied to the covered pedestrian overpass that will connect "Metropolis-2" and the new station of Moscow Railroad that is being built nearby. This connection is of great town-planning and social value - thanks to it, the passengers of Moscow monorail will be able to easily change to the conventional subway train ("Voikovskaya" metro station) directly through the two shopping malls, and not having to find their way around them. Originally it was proposed that this overpass should be built specifically around the new building, in fact, by running a glass "sausage" on supports along its entire facade, while UNK Peoject suggested connecting a small tunnel to the side facade of "Metropolis-2" and synchronizing the opening hours of the center with those of the monorail. "For Russia, such synergy between the public transportation and the retail trade is a rather new format but the experience of such mega-cities as Tokyo, Shanghai, and Beijing shows that it is now in great demand, and we hope that it will catch on in Moscow as well" - Julius Borisov comments. 

Multi-purpose complex on the Leningrad Highway

As for those people who are going to reach "Metropolis-2" by car, the project provides for a reconstruction of the multilevel parking garage situated directly behind the shopping center. What is interesting is the fact that the architects not only build it up, thus providing an extra thousand car stalls, but also cover it from the street side with a special concealing colonnade, as if extending the facade of the shopping mall and thus achieving the stylistic unity. And so as not to lead the visitors of the mall into temptation of parking their cars directly in front of the building on the doubler of the Leningrad Highway, UNK Project are raising the pedestrian sidewalk before the entrance to "Metopolis-2", and frame it with concrete cache-pots for trees and shrubs along its perimeter. Thus, the drivers that want to get inside will have an easier time doing so from the parking garage than storming the sheer one meter wall, while the mall will get a small landscaped square in front of it, securely protected from the noise and the grime of the driveway.

Text by: Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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