По-русски

Through the Looking Glass

"UNK Project" designed a new Moscow office of "Walt Disney Company".

author pht

Written by:
Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

17 March 2014
Object
mainImg
Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

This is not the first office of the famous corporation in Moscow, and not the first work of UNK Project for Disney either. "Walt Disney Company" have long since established its office in "Lotte-Plaza" on the Novy Arbat Street, and in 2011, UNK Project turned the office of "Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing" located in the business center "Stanislavsky Factory" into a veritable "dream factory". An office with a fully-fledged movie hall and the inimitable charm of the Hollywood "hangar" studios became one of the architects' "calling cards" - the bureau was awarded a few prestigious awards for it. And it was only two years later that Disney turned to UNK Project for their central office - renting yet another floor, the company commissioned the bureau with a design project of their new establishment. It must be mentioned at this point that one of the key requirements was - the new office was to look nothing like the already-existing one, nor like the office of WDSSPR.

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

As Nikolai Milovidov explains, it was all about the fact that the new extra office premises were to accommodate the divisions responsible for the work with the clients of Walt Disney Company. "One can safely say that this is the level of "external relationship", and the space here mainly consists of meeting rooms, showrooms, and places for less formal communication - the architect says - In other words, it is here that almost all the company's clients come, meaning, this new office is the "face" of "Walt Disney Company", and it was asking for the appropriate design". The authors of the project decided not to go too far for inspiration - it would not have been really worth the effort trying to "dream up" something magic for the company that has for decades been specializing in the creation of magic worlds. The stylistic concept was based on the story of Alice in Wonderland, one that we also know from the Disney cartoon. 

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

The planning was based on the "open space" principle, although it does look that way at first glance. In strict accordance with the spirit of Carroll's tale, the architects treated this space as a chessboard, separate "fields" of which are the working areas, offices, and meeting rooms. Also, it is virtually impossible to walk from one end of the office to the other in a straight line: instead of direct passes, the architects made winding corridors and secret paths, and the visitor’s way is now and then blocked by this or that working area. "Generally, it is a mystery forest as we know it - Nikolai Milovidov comments - The blue line on the floor functions as an extra navigator. Walking upon it, the visitor gets a chance to observe from a side what is going on in each of the "fields", sometimes almost peeking, just like Alice did in the world invented by Lewis Carroll". Likening the office to a labyrinth, the architects solved a few key tasks at once: first of all, this idea helped to visually broaden the borders of this generally modest-size area, second of all, the architects were able, within the framework of the open space, to create the necessary number of intimate and isolated rooms meant both for work and also informal communication, which was one of the customer's requirements. Each turn of the "path" from one side of the office to the other was decorated as a soft zone. The single space still produces the impression of an indivisible whole - but at the same time the employees of different departments get their visual and acoustic comfort. The design of each of the fields as such also urged the architects to fantasize on the subject of Alice in Wonderland: the bright armchairs of quaint fancy shapes put one in the mind of the weird characters that the heroine meets on her way. 

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

The mystery forest and the chessboard as the two most recognizable symbols of Alice's story are used not only in the planning solution but also in the decorative design. For one, the opaque silhouettes of the trees are posted on all the glass partitions, while the left-uncovered communications form on the ceiling a sophisticated pattern that brings up the associations with the thick forest. This feeling is strengthened by the lights of all considerable shapes and sizes hanging down in between the air vents (these lights were made upon the author sketches specifically for this project). And as for the white-and-blue checkered pattern, it is used in the design of the restrooms; what is peculiar here is the fact that because of the abundance of mirrors and the polished tiles here the space gets a bit distorted producing a palpable 3D effect of being "inside the looking glass". The cafeteria is also designed in a very intriguing way - the checkered floor and ceiling with liana branches upon them are added by the walks that depict the scenes of the famous crazy tea party with March Hare. 

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

It is generally worth mentioning that, thanks to the main theme, the design of the office turned out to be truly phantasmagoric, and this is true, first of all, for the "contents" of the decorative design. As far as its color palette is concerned, however, it turned out to be a lot more reserved - the architects simply wanted to avoid running the risk of overdoing it. The only bright color that is always there throughout the entire office is red - it runs over the partition frameworks, over the shelves, and in the picture frames in the reception zone. Again, Lewis Carroll was in it: according to the architects' idea, the red was to put one in the mind of roses, yet another important story line of "Alice in Wonderland".

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

Of course, the meeting rooms and the workplaces are designed in a more reserved manner, and they are dominated by the functionality and technical equipment. As Nikolai Milovidov shares, the architects designed for Disney several unique premises that took into consideration the company specifics - for example, a meeting room for selling video content that was equipped with a plague of televisions tuned to various types of broadcasting, or a meeting room with showcases that were mean to demonstrate all kinds of souvenirs that are put out at the release of the movie. And, while the mock-ups of hedge characters of these or those cartoons may sometimes catch your eye in every corner of the office, you can only meet Alice in the reception zone. Its main adornment is the decorative wall opposite the desk that the architects turned into a panel picture with silhouettes of Lewis Carroll characters. In actuality, they are painted directly in the wall but, at the expense of the baguette frame and the base surfaces of various colors, they look as if they were cut from paper. And - between the "pictures", the architects placed a few mirrors, also of human height, which gives every visitor an opportunity to "try on" the role of a "looking-glass" hero. 

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

Just as attractive is the reception desk that the architects "pieced together" from several empty cubes. Some of them look as if they were "pushed into" the wooden structure , the others, on the contrary, look as if they were "pulled out" and backlit from the inside. Simple as it looks this composition is a sure sign of "high creativity concentration" company and puts one into a positive and creative mood. Oh, by the way, the reception desk was such a success with the customers that UNK Project has already designed its replica for the "old" office as well. 

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

Office of Walt Disney Company © UNK project

zooming


17 March 2014

author pht

Written by:

Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​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.
​Parallel Universe
In the “Parallel House” residence that he designed in the Moscow metropolitan area, the architect Roman Leonidov created a dramatic sculptural composition from totally basic shapes – parallelepipeds, whose collision turned into an exciting show.
​Breakwater
In the Istra district of Moscow metropolitan area, the tandem of 4izmerenie and ARS-ST designed a sports complex – a monovolume that has the shape of a chamfered parallelepiped with a pointed “nose” like a ship’s bow.