The slab of this residential building stretches between the Lenin Street and the railroad line, amidst the trees, garages, and the high-rises of the northern part of the Moscow area's city of Dzerzhinsky. This spot is a kilometer and a half away from the Moscow Ring Road, and two kilometers or but a half-hour's walk away from the Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery, the ancient but built anew centerpiece of this area. Hence, the new residential complex got a name of "Ugreshsky".
The complex, actually, consists of but one building: two floors of the 190-stall underground parking garage, a bank, cafés and shops in the ground floor, seventeen residential floors on top, and the business-class apartments consulting of one to three rooms. It was built in 2012, and "became an accent in the cityscape for its size, if for anything - Andrew Asadov shares - this is why we wanted to make it as clear-cut and structural as possible. Ultimately, from the composition standpoint, what we got was a "flip-flopper" consisting of two sections with semicircular bay windows on its side walls. The building's silhouette marks the break of the city's main street. And as for the details, they were developed as the continuation of the main idea that highlights the two-section structure and the semicircular accents on the corners". "Flip-flopper" - because the volume of the house is built according to the principle that was so much loved by the architects of the avant-garde of the 1920's and then of the neo-constructivism of the 2000's, namely that of the symmetry of rotation: one of its parts (i.e. sections) reflects the other - not in the mirror fashion but as if it was rotated on a pivot. Now, let us imagine a small paper knife with a curved blade whose one pointed end is turned exactly south and the other exactly north, like the compass needle that was spinning but a moment ago and now has finally stopped.
The imaginary movement left its trace: the parabolic outlines of the pointed "noses" that look like fan blades, point in the direction if the arrested motion (like in the solar sign) that is picked up, on turn, by the slabs of the facade extrusions. There are two such extrusions: the longer one on the side of the Lenin Street and the shorter one on the side of the yard - they also fall in with the rotation symmetry and are supported by the balcony ledges that are there at the very edges of the slab, also corresponding to the "noses" and also symmetric.
The ledges correspond to the joints between the sections, otherwise all but invisible, also because of the fact that the slabs on the east and west facades are slightly juxtaposed, as if striving to avoid any strict division of the building into the northern and southern parts.
The alternating of the slabs of the extrusions is accentuated by the color: the outstanding parts of the facades are white with red side surfaces which crests a graphic impression of them "stepping forward". The neighboring surfaces that made a step back are conversely stitched with energetic red horizontals against the background of the gray vertical partitions. The general impression is that of the building being "stripped" of its "skin" and laying bare the striped structure of its "insides", almost ecorche. One could even (subject to prior agreement, of course), read this form in this way: the neat white aluminum contemporary house got chipped off and, from underneath the top layer, showed up the avant-garde core of the entire contemporary architecture. Or in this way: this city is the spawn of the commune of the homeless children "named after Felix Dzerzhinsky", a "commune" city, but after the WW2 its center got some quite respectable and Stalin-architecture buildings - they lined up closer to the city center along the Lenin Street. The facades of the "Ugreshsky" house serve as an almost literal demonstration of this "healing" process from the avant-garde homeless to the cozy domestic. All of this, of course, nothing more than suppositions - but, if they appear, then the building is suggestive of them, then it is not empty and not devoid of interesting ideas.
At the same time, the building's geometry remains pure and simple, though supported, as the architect confesses by numerous details. The priority of the horizontals is enhanced by the gray strokes on the side-wall "blades" whose array, though, is broken by an unexpected insert, or, rather, a cutaway: the cutaway sports a bright-red niche with six balconies; it willfully moves aside the array of the windows, syncopating their rhythm. This is the accent meant to be viewable from the main vantage point, the corner that opens up from the turn of the Lenin Street pointed in the direction of the monastery (maybe this is the proverbial cryptic "red corner", the meaningful play of the traditional avant-garde is doubtlessly present here, even though in a very unobtrusive form). Other subtleties: red window frames against the white surface, gray rectangles between the windows that, again, support the horizontal, the alternating stanzas and windows, the lacework of the small grilled balconies, scattered all over the facade rather irregularly, to name but a few.
This building can be quite safely referred to the so-popular-in-the-2000's (and even in the late 1990's) trend of neo-constructivism. Proceeding from the true, even if a bit nostalgic, statement belief that "avant-garde is our all", the architects tried to make its principles and techniques come alive, see the world through its eyes, at times suffering from the contradiction consisting in replicating the motifs of that movement that allowed of no replication in the first place. But then again, neo-constructivism has remained one of the honest and sincere attempts to turn back to one's roots, which bore its, though a bit nostalgic, fruit both on a small and grand scale. One should think that it would be fair to recognize the building in question as coming a bit late in the day but still a mature example of neo-constructivism: the symmetry of rotation, the pointed noses, the subtle stereometric play that nearly fits within the simple geometry, and especially the "billboard" red-and-white colors are the sure signs of the architecture of the 1920's. The deliberate breaks on the rhythm that are meant to lighten up the form, the thin finish, and the alien-to-collectivism little balconies (as well as the 17-floor scale and the building and finishing materials: the monolith framework and the aluminum panels) - belong to our day and age and the prefix "neo".
The building has yet another pleasant quality to it that already distinguishes it by today's standards of the 2010's, and this is a great quality: it is just a house. After 2010, architecture got diverted from the houses per se, and shifted its main focus predominantly on the macro scale: neighborhoods, settlements, and entire neighborhoods, and the micro scale: improvements, parks, and landscaping. These are all very important areas but one cannot help but notice that the diversity of the urban environment is created not only by the different paving patterns but also by the buildings, the thought-out concepts of their volumes, as well as their details and colors. Once the architects start neglecting them, the houses fall back into the realm of typical construction, cheap and all-penetrating as it is. And one's eyes are so pleased when they see a well thought-out "architectural" house. Just a house.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stairway to Heaven
The project of a hotel in the settlement of Yantarny is an example of a new recreational complex typology, and a new format that unites the hotel, the business, and the cultural functions. All of this is complemented by 100% integration with nature.
Cape of Good Hope
In this issue, we are showing all the seven projects that participated in a closed-door competition to create a concept for the headquarters of Gazprom Neft, as well as provide expert opinions on those projects.