Julia Tarabarina

Written by:
Julia Tarabarina


Byzantine house

The project of the building on Granatny pereulok looks like a resumption of Sergey Tchoban’s graphic-ornamental searches started in St. Petersburg. Being grafted in Moscow the themes undergoes a number of changes, puts on stone and brings to life Byzantine memories which get an absolutely new interpretation here.

05 March 2008
Объект Архитектура
Sergei Tchoban
Granatny 6
Russia, Moscow, Granatny pereulok, 4

2004 — 1.2008 / 2008 — 2010

The chosen for the building site is simply exclusive, and for the other is merely significant because it is right by the Dom Arkhitektora [House of Architect]. For all the rest people the area is just nice, it is one of those parts of the capital centre that managed to save historical development and consequently – almost original urban environment of the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. Classical embassy district, quiet, status, rich with various architecture – from such well-known masterpieces as private residence of Ryabushinsky by Fedor Shekhtel or house of Tarasov by Ivan Zheltovsky, to “ordinary” commercial apartment buildings constructed hundred or more years ago. They all had minimal influence of the soviet period and have even less of modern time. A zapovednik [a conservancy area]. Well, the eastern part of the site borders with one of such Moscow “zapovednik”.

No wonder a residential building will be elite in such company – “ostozhensky” format. Each of the three buildings will be 1-2storey and have just 27 apartments. Its volume composition is common for such types of elite houses in center – the building consists of the three volumes different in height, joined be high glass bridges of passages – from Spiridonovka side there is 9storey one, then closer to Granatny the height lessens to 6 and then to 4 storeys, responding to the presence of Empire house, a monument of architecture. The building are placed “cornerwise”, isolating the small square yard from which through the trees of the small neighbor garden the Dom Arkhitectora will be well seen.

For such elite buildings, in the centre of Moscow, many things are “foregone” – their height is strictly determined by landscape-visual analysis, costly design and facing of facades – by the high price of the future apartments. This is paradoxical – the typology and location suppose strict standards and a multitude of rules, require respectability and make these innumerous buildings imperceptibly alike. And this elite typology demands from each building to have a highlight – some recognizable peculiarity, an attribute, and best – combined with a brief name. “…Semen Semenych, will you live in Medny house? – we will in Rimsky…Ivan Ivanych in Visantisky…”.

The house in Granatny is that “Visantisky” [Byzantine]. The origin of the name is historically literary, almost touristic and obvious. The method of its realization is an ornament that covers the building everywhere – outside and inside, including lift cabins. Ornament will be applied to the stone facing; glass parapets of “French” windows from floor to ceiling; to iron gratings where these windows are transformed into balcony-loggia; to oak entrance doors; hoods over those doors; ceilings in halls and walls of the mentioned lifts. In the yard there will be a small glass rectangular of a summerhouse – even glass has ornament. Such a list might make anyone dizzy, and it seems the house is not Byzantine, but Asian, because only there one can come across a house-size carved chest.

But this is not really so. Ever-present ornament, successfully established on the four (as minimum) types of materials – actually is arranged in style of simplified and enlarged art-deco. Vertical windows merge into 2torey height stripes, carving is inserted onto fielded panels adding a rhythm to the facades typical for architecture of modernism looking back to classicism. Basement is faced with classical rustication, central parts of facades, following axes symmetry, are marked by rows of loggias. This brings to architecture of Stalin period, notably rather post- than pre-war. Indeed – famous architecture Andrey Burov (1900-1957), many graduates of MarchI consider him their master, he experimented with such ornamental filling of façades. He designed the portico of Dom Arkhitectora in Granatny, which will view the yard of “Byzantine house” – a thread of succession is obvious.

However, need to remind that Art Nouveau in 1910 started experiences with “carpet” (or almost carpet) facade décor – the style interested in ornaments in all forms. By Pokrovskie Vorota on Chistoprudny boulevard there is a house covered by enlarged and flattened copies lions and deer of Vladimir and Suzdal, it is a close relative of the “Byzantine house” but built a little over hundred years ago. Besides, it is well-known, even after Burov in Art Nouveau architecture Soviet as well as European, interest in ornament was alive and developed, but never developed in to a mainstream. Nowadays, lace is very popular in architecture abroad, it seems that even more than in 70’s – they are used as decorative insertions or they cover the whole giant buildings, like airport Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) by Remment Koolhaas.

Generally speaking, if leave out “brutalism” that respects mass and texture, and also “minimalism” that likes plainness, ornament can be declared an essential part of architecture of 20th (and 21) century. It is well known that modernism also aims to dematerialize and make work light, aerial and transparent. The main methods here are the high technologies: transparency of glass and resistibility of iron concrete. But the old method of dematerialization – ornament and lace are also used and notably more often. By the way, about the potency of the method – erasure of material by covering it with some ornament – best of all knew in Byzantium, which passed the knowledge to architecture of the Islamic Orient.

And finally – Sergey Tchoban, the author of the building in Granatny, for some years now has been developing the theme of a facade-image and in particular facade ornament. In St Petersburg he has already constructed “Dom Aleksandra Benua”, a multi-functional centre, the front facade of which consists of Benua’s theatrical sketches applied to glass and are arranged like a chequered chessboard. “LangenZipen”, business centre in St. Petersburg, imitates a renaissance ornament with the help of glassprinting-photo applied to glass. More severe, geometrical variant of ornament is will be used on stone for Forum-Plaza, business centre, that is being designed by SPeeCH and about which have already told. “Byzantine house” mostly resembles “LangenZipen” by the net of facades with vertical windows, and also by the fact that the ornaments take us to a particular city – Rome, from where the elements of décor were taken (photographed). “Byzantine house” fits to the sequence – this is the next step, made for Moscow this time, which obviously takes much of the previous but uses more traditional material – stone. It seems that having left St. Petersburg for Moscow, the ideas of Sergey Tchoban “are turning to stone”: either materializing or become more traditional. Must be St. Petersbug is more graphic and ephemeral for the architect and Moscow is “of stone”. Well, the old “Byzantine” capital. St. Petersburg otherwise – new “West”, Roman, theatrical.

All Sergey Tchoban’s “facade-pictures” have a number of common peculiarities. They are used for buildings of average size, according to modern architecture standards. They are very classical, again according to modern architecture – but they do not have any column – decorations that are numerous, all refer to visual art: painting/graphics or sculpture. Seems that columns are purposely left out – because they are elements of specific architectural language. Architecture of columns has gone, and art of decoration is still here. These decorations are taken from everywhere, but with the only fundamental requirement – accuracy. Benua’s sketches – copies, Roman relieves – photos. In selecting the Byzantine ornaments was engaged a specialist-historian who has selected historically authentic images and motifs. So, on the 9storey building there will be Byzantine motives (12th-14th centuries), on the 6storey one – of Valdimir and Suzdal, on the smaller, 4storey – Balkan and early Moscow.

Another peculiarity of Tchoban’s facades, in some way is the result of previous – their concept richness. These facade-messages, and this was started by the house of Benua the architect considered it as a tribute to favorite artist whose home was not far away. This is why it is particularly interesting what Byzantium displays us the “Byzantine house”

Such Byzantine is new to Russian architecture. For one thing, it is unthinkable to imagine Byzantine motives in soviet architecture, in Burov’s work. They were ideologically strange, and firstly because before the revolution were ideologically overloaded. Conservatively overloaded. Byzantium for Russian 12th century is Orthodox religion and monarchy. In 19th century where Byzantium there is some giant dark (this is why unlike) church-stylization or Empire double eagle. And release of the Serbian brothers or even a Christ over the St. Sophia. That is not to say, these motives are left behind today – on the contrary, there was a movie on that not long ago.

But in “Byzantine house” there is nothing of the kind. No double eagles. With elegancy of St Petersburg and German composure the architect somehow managed to ignore that heavy burden, having taken form the theme only most essential – décor with light subject charge. Which is enough to have a discussion over – what a Byzantium we have got! Sure this is Byzantium, but of take another look – it is not. Or vice versa?


Sergei Tchoban
Granatny 6
Russia, Moscow, Granatny pereulok, 4

2004 — 1.2008 / 2008 — 2010

05 March 2008

Julia Tarabarina

Written by:

Julia Tarabarina
Headlines now
The Chinese Symphony
The construction of the Chinese center “Huaming Park” has been a long story that came to fruition relatively recently. The building is adjacent to a traditional Chinese garden, but it is very modern, laconic and technological, and the simple-in-form, yet spectacular, white lamellae promise to someday be incorporated as a media facade. This complex is also truly multifunctional: it contains different types of living spaces, offices, a large fitness center, conference halls and restaurants – all wrapped in one volume. You can comfortably hold international forums in it, having everything you may possibly need at your fingertips, and going outside only to take a walk. In this article, we are examining this complex in detail.
Ensemble of Individualities
Construction of the first phase of the INDY Towers multifunctional complex on Kuusinen Street, designed by Ostozhenka, has started. The project opens new angles of similarity between the column and the skyscraper, and we examine the nuances and parallels.
Black and Red
Kazakov Grand Loft received its name for a reason: responding to the client’s brief and proceeding from the historical industrial architecture of its immediate surroundings, Valery Kanyashin and Ostozhenka architects proposed a new version of a modern house designed in the fashionable “loft” style. What makes this building different is the fact that the bricks here are dark gray, and the facades of the romantic “fortress” towers blossom with magnificent glazing of the windows in the upper part. The main highlight of the complex, however, is the multiple open air terraces situated on different levels.
Icy Hospitality
Mezonproject has won the national architectural and town planning competition for designing a hotel and a water recreation center in the city of Irkutsk. The architects chose hummocks of Baikal ice as a visual image.
The Mastery of Counterpoint
In the sculpture of Classical Greece, counterpoint was first invented: the ability to position the human body as if it were about to take a step, imbuing it with a hint of the energy of future movement, and with hidden dynamics. For architecture, especially in the 20th century and now, this is also one of the main techniques, and the ATRIUM architects implement it diligently, consistently – and always slightly differently. The new residential complex “Richard” is a good example of such exploration, based on the understanding of contrasts in the urban environment, which was fused into the semblance of a living being.
Countryside Avant-Garde
The project of the museum of Aleksey Gastev, the ideologist of scientific organization of work, located in his hometown of Suzdal, is inscribed in multiple contexts: the contest of a small town, the context of avant-garde design, the context of “lean production”, and the context of the creative quest of Nikolai Lyzlov’s minimalist architecture – and it seems to us that this project even reveals a distant memory of the fact that Aleksey Gastev learned his craft in France.
On the Hills
In the project by Studio 44, the “distributed” IT campus of Nizhny Novgorod is based on well-balanced contracts. Sometimes it is hovering, sometimes undulating, sometimes towering over a rock. For every task, the architects found appropriate form and logic: the hotels are based on a square module, the academic buildings are based on a “flying” one, and so on. Modernist prototypes, specifically, Convent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, stand next to references to the antique Forum and the tower of a medieval university – as well as next to contextual allusions that help inscribe the buildings of the future campus into the landscape of the city hills with their dominants, high slopes, breathtaking river views, the historical city center, and the Nizhny Novgorod University.
The Magic Carpet
The anniversary exhibition of Totan Kuzembaev’s drawings named “Event Horizons” shows both very old drawings made by the architect in the formative 1980’s, and now extracted from the Museum of Architecture, as well as quite a few pictures from the “Weightlessness” series that Totan Kuzembaev drew specifically for this exhibition in 2023. It seemed to us that the architect represented reality from the point of view of someone levitating in space, and sometimes even upside down, like a magic carpet with multiple layers.
​A Copper Step
Block 5, designed by ASADOV architects as part of the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex, is at the same time grand-scale, conspicuous thanks to its central location – and contextual. It does not “outshout” the solutions used in the neighboring buildings, but rather gives a very balanced implementation of the design code: combining brick and metal in light and dark shades and large copper surfaces, orthogonal geometry on the outside and flexible lines in the courtyard.
The Light for the Island
For the first time around, we are examining a lighting project designed for a housing complex; but then again, the authors of the nighttime lighting of the Ostrov housing complex, UNK lighting, proudly admit that this project is not just the largest in their portfolio, but also the largest in this country. They describe their approach as a European one, its chief principles being smoothness of transitions, comfort to the eye, and the concentration of most of the light at the “bottom” level – meaning, it “works” first of all for pedestrians.
Spots of Light
A new housing complex in Tyumen designed by Aukett Swanke is a very eye-pleasing example of mid-rise construction: using simple means of architectural expression, such as stucco, pitched roofs, and height changes, the architects achieve a “human-friendly” environment, which becomes a significant addition to the nearby park and forest.
Ledges and Swirls
The housing complex “Novaya Zarya” (“New Dawn”) designed by ASADOV Architects will become one of the examples of integrated land development in Vladivostok. The residential area will be characterized by various typologies of its housing sections, and a multitude of functions – in addition to the social infrastructure, the complex will include pedestrian promenades, shopping malls, office buildings, and recreational facilities. The complex is “inscribed” in a relief with a whopping 40-meter height difference, and overlooks the Amur Bay.
Agglomeration on an Island
Recently, an approval came for the master plan of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration, which was developed by a consortium headed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow. The document provides for the creation of 12 clusters, the totality of which will give the region a qualitative leap in development and make the island more self-sufficient, more accessible, and less dependent on the mainland. We are inviting you to examine the details.
Ivan Grekov: “A client that wants to make a building that is “about architecture” is...
In this article, we are talking to Ivan Grekov, the leader of the architectural company KAMEN (translates as “stone”), the author of many high-profile projects that have been built in Moscow in the recent years, about the history of his company, about different approaches to form making, about different meanings of volume and facade, and about “layers” in working with the environment – at the example of two projects by Osnova Group. These are the MIRAPOLIS complex on the Mira Avenue in Rostokino, whose construction began at the end of last year, and the multifunctional complex in the 2nd Silikatny Proezd on the Zvenigorodsky Highway; recently, it received all the required approvals.
Grasping and Formulating
The special project “Tezisy” (“Abstracts”), showcased at Arch Moscow exhibition in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, brought together eight young “rock stars of architecture”, the headliner being Vladislav Kirpichev, founder of the EDAS school. In this article, we share our impressions of the installations and the perspectives of the new generation of architects.
The White Tulip
Currently, there are two relevant projects for the Great Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, which was transferred to a land site in Admiralteiskaya Sloboda in February. One of them, designed by TsLP, was recently showcased at Arch Moscow. In this article, we are covering another project, which was proposed during the same period for the same land site. Its author is Aleksey Ginzburg, the winner of the 2022 competition, but now the project is completely different. Today, it is a sculptural “flower” dome symbolizing a white tulip.
ATRIUM’s Metaverse
The architectural company ATRIUM opened a gallery of its own in a metaverse. Inside, one can examine the company’s approach and main achievements, as well as get some emotional experience. The gallery is already hosting cyberspace business meetings and corporate events.
​From Darkness to Light
Responding to a lengthy list of limitations and a lengthy – by the standards of a small building – list of functions, Vladimir Plotkin turned the project of the Novodevichy Monastery into a light, yet dynamic statement of modern interpretation of historical context, or, perhaps, even interpretation of light and darkness.
Modernism in Avant-Garde
The contest proposal that Studio 44 made for the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater is bright in all senses, and in many ways even provocative – just like a modern theater performance should be. Being in context with modern culture, it even shocks you in some respects. At first, you are amazed at the red color that is present all around, and then you gradually make sense of the picturesque congregation of volumes that share a multitude of functions. And it’s only later that you realize that this conglomerate conceals a modernist building, most of which the architects save intact.
The Black Mountain
The project of reconstructing the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet theater developed by Wowhaus, which won the competition, proposed a total demolition and new construction, as well as considerable expansion (up to 8 floors) – and transformable multifunctional spaces. The new project, however, does retain the recognizable elements and the image of the old theater. As for the main spectator hall, it is turned – figuratively speaking, of course – into a semblance of a black volcano.
Recently, Moscow saw the presentation of a project by Yuri Grigoryan, devoted to turning the truck garage on Novoryazanskaya Street, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, into the Museum of Moscow Transport. The project involves restoring the monument of architecture, adding a new underground floor and a new entrance, as well as a whole park. The implementation is already underway.
Houses by the Lakeside
Approvals came for the project of a housing complex that DNK ag designed in Kazan. The complex is low-rise; its sections are designed as separate volumes united by a common podium. Everything is very much like DNK: delicate and sometimes even lyrical, especially where the yard meets the lakeshore.
Exemplary Adaptation
In Novosibirsk, the construction of a school has been completed, whose project is standing every chance to set a new standard for the nation’s educational institutions. SVESMI Architects and Brusnika company started by developing the brief that would answer the modern teaching practices, and then they proposed the optimum plan, versatile classrooms, and reserved, yet expressive, image in the spirit of this Amsterdam alliance.
Terra Incognita
An 800-room hotel complex, designed by Ginzburg Architects, offers the seaside city of Anapa a fragment of well-organized urban environment that keeps up the cultural spirit of the place. The architects break away from traditional white facades, turning to the antique and even archaic periods of the history of this land, and drawing inspiration in the color of red clay and simple, yet lightweight, shapes.
In Plumage Colors
Working on the facades of a mid-rise residential area in Odintsovsky district, GENPRO architects “adjusted” a number of features of the volumetric composition, which they received without the right to make any changes to, by purely “decorative” means, such as ornamental brickwork, including glazed bricks and the rhythm of the windows. Interestingly, the starting point in the search for the color code was the plumage of birds that are found in the Moscow region.
Julius Borisov: “The “Island” housing complex is a unique project – we took it on with...
One of the largest housing projects of today’s Moscow – the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex built by Donstroy – is now being actively built in the Mnevniky Floodplain. They are planning to build about 1.5M square meters of housing on an area of almost 40 hectares. We are beginning to examine this project– first of all, we are talking to Julius Borisov, the head of the architectural company UNK, which works with most of the residential blocks in this grand-scale project, as well as with the landscaping part; the company even proposed a single design code for the entire territory.
A Balanced Solution
The residential complex “Balance” on Moscow’s Ryazansky Prospekt is one of the large-scale, and relatively economical (again, by Moscow standards) housing projects. Its first phase has already been built and landscaped; the work on the others is in progress. Nevertheless, it has an integral internal logic, which is based on the balance of functions, height, and even image and space composition. The proposed solutions are recognizable and laconic, so that each of them was reduced by the authors to a graphic “logo”. To see everything, you have to flip through the pages and look through to the end.
Horror Vacui
In the city of Omsk, ASADOV architects took on a very challenging task: they are developing a concept of a public and residential complex, which involves reconstructing the city’s first thermal power station standing right next to Omsk’s first fortress. This territory has already seen a lot of projects designed for it, and the residential function of this land site has been the subject of heated debate. In this article, we are examining the project in question, aimed at developing a mid-scale city fabric suited for the historical center. We also examine the above-mentioned debate. Seriously, will this project save this place or will it bring it to ruin?
A Multi-Faced Grotto
This building, seemingly small, unremarkable, semi-ruined, and not even very ancient – the Grotto in the Bauman Garden – was restored by the “People’s Architect” architectural company with all the care applicable to a heritage monument. They preserved the romantic appeal of the ruins, added multimedia content, and explored the cascading fountain, which, as it turned out, was completely preserved. Brace yourself for a long story!