Impregnable Bastion

In the Narofominsky district of Moscow Region, "Arkhstroydesign" has designed the shopping center "Avantgarde". The leader of the studio Aleksey Ivanov shares about the project.

Written by:
Alla Pavlikova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

17 December 2013
Aleksey Ivanov
Arkhstroydesign ASD
"Avantgarde" shopping center. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio

Aleksey Ivanov: 

“This was a project of a small shopping center in Moscow Region, with an area of less than fifteen hundred square meters, and we developed it in a rather short period of time. The customer, with whom our studio goes back a long way, asked us to prepare a working project on the basis of the already available draft proposal. However, once we got down to work we realized that the draft that was offered to us did not in the least answer either the construction regulations or the boundaries of the construction site. As a result, we had to design the building virtually from scratch.

The land site is located on the Kievskoe Highway and is overlooking a busy crossroads where the traffic is constantly on the heavy side. Basically, the location might have been considered pretty suitable for placing a shopping center here: nearby, there is a building materials market, and across from it there are some small retail stores, as well as a car park. The surrounding housing, however, is all too chaotic, and the urban infrastructure does not seem to have any planning here. The only the more or less though-through space here is a small villa community located at a certain distance from the land site and behind a high rock fence. Perhaps, it is the only factor that forms the frontage line here.

"Avantgarde" shopping center. Facade design. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio

Considering such a deplorable town-building environment, the first thing that occurred to us was the idea of designing not just a shopping center but a centerpiece that would be capable of "fixing" this land site. It was supposed to be a powerful landmark, able to give this place a prop, make all the surrounding unorganized space revolve around it. I have to admit that for our studio this is a rare tactic: usually we carefully analyze and consider the context, but with the environment like this, we decided to ignore it completely - which also implies some kind of relation to the context.

"Avantgarde" shopping center. Master plan. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio

This is how we came up with the idea of a bastion - a sturdy, impregnable and dominant. Turned to the truck road, its rounded corner resembles a fortress wall. We intentionally made the outside boundary of the building practically blind, and only the small apertures of windows are meant to show that there is a world going on inside. Rem Koolhaas had a whole study on New York, in which he wrote that the windows were relevant for boutiques and malls, while for the shopping center typology they were totally redundant. And in this sense our facade completely reflects the functional purpose of the building, drawing visitors, but in this case demonstratively fencing off from the noise and fuss of the motor road.

For finishing the facades, it was planned to use ceramic brick or tile. However, attempting to give to the building additional grandeur and power, we decided to make its walls of variable thickness. The easiest way to achieve this would be to use the foam-concrete blocks from 1000 to 500 mm thick which would yield deeper windows and which would strengthen the effect of a fortress wall. 

"Avantgarde" shopping center. Facade design. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio

"Avantgarde" shopping center. Facade design. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio

With all the inaccessibility of the external appearance of the shopping center, its inner area in front of the main entrance is designed as a friendly and comfortable territory. From the outside world and the chaos of the superhighway it is hidden behind the fortress wall of the complex which the visitors must go around in order to get to the entrance area. In front of the building, there is going to be a children's playground; the entire territory will be improved and landscaped. Also, this inside area will be surrounded by the cafes and restaurants; in the summertime it will be possible to bring the tables outside. Furthermore, for the summer cafe the operable roof may be used where, if necessary, a rain-protective tent can be set up, as well as an extra heated floor can be added. The fact is that at first this shopping center was designed as a single-story building, but we proposed to our customer to consider the possibility of further development of this volume without compromising either its framework or architectural appearance.

Yet another important point that we considered while designing this complex was the concept of placing the advertisements and billboards. The billboards always look more aggressive and flamboyant than the facades, attracting people's attention much more than the architecture. As a rule, the architect has two options to choose from - either to make advertising on the facades of his building impossible, which happens extremely rarely or to provide, while still in port, the most painless scenario of placing the signage. This is always a challenging issue, in particular when it comes to the curvilinear surface, as in our case. We proposed to customer to place the advertisements on the frieze of the building, and also on the free-standing advertising tower, as is common in the American cities.

It is still unclear whether this project will ultimately be implemented. In spite of the fact that the stated task of preparing the project documentation as soon as humanly possible was fulfilled, today the project is frozen. Just like many others. But there will be a thaw?

"Avantgarde" shopping center. Section views. "Arkhstroydesign" Studio


Aleksey Ivanov
Arkhstroydesign ASD

17 December 2013

Written by:

Alla Pavlikova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​The Energy Family
The housing complex Symphony 34 will be built in Moscow’s Savelovsky district; it will consist of four towers from 36 to 54 stories high. Each of the towers has an image of its own, but they all are gathered into a single architectural ensemble – a fragment of a new high-rise urban space lying outside the Third Transport Ring.
The Fifth Element
The high-end residential development in the Vsevolozhsky Lane features a combination of expensive stone and metal textures, immersing them into a feast of ornaments. The house looks like a fantasy inspired by the theater of the Art Nouveau and Symbolism era; a kind of oriental fairy tale, which paradoxically allows it to avoid direct stylization and become a reflection of one of the aspects of modern Moscow life.
​Springboards and Patios
The central element of the manor house in the village of Antonovka, designed by Roman Leonidov, is the inner yard with pergolas, meant to remind its owner about his vacations in exotic countries. The exposed wooden structures emphasize the soaring diagonals of single-pitched roofs.
​Adding Up a Growing City
The housing quarter “1147” is located at the border between the old “Stalin” district in the north and the actively developing territories in the south. Its image responds to a difficult task: the compound brick facades of the neighboring sections are different, their height varying from 9 to 22 floors, and, if we are look from the street, it seems as though the front of the city development, consisting from long narrow elements, is forming some sophisticated array at this very moment in front of our eyes.
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.