A daring plastic play with the volume of a giant multi-apartment complex just outside of Moscow: a sophisticated silhouette, impressive views and a beautiful-looking reminder of the fact that avant-garde is our all.
Written by: Alla Pavlikova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The story of the residential complex in Moscow's suburb of Odintsovo started simultaneously with the story of the complex "Water Colors" in Balashikha - during the crisis of 2008. It was at that time that "Tekta" company thought nothing of launching two large-scale projects at once, turning to "Ostozhenka" Bureau. Today, both complexes have been successfully put into operation, and, furthermore, got several honorable mentions as the model residential projects that meet all the requirements of forming a quality urban environment. Just one example: at Arch Moscow 2014, they both were short-listed as the most relevant projects for the quarter construction and development in Russia.
In both cases, the architects were required to build, on a limited land plot, a residential complex of impressive dimensions. "The main thing to remember while doing such projects is not to indulge in any kind of excesses - says Alexander Skokan - Our work was all about making the giant building look appropriate in its place using various techniques: arches, color spots, work with scale and silhouette... These are compositional and plastic techniques, the building does not grow any smaller just because of them but you still can get interesting visual effects that help liven up the boredom of the contemporary construction. I think that the yard space of the Odintsovo complex turned out to be interesting and even exciting specifically thanks to its giant arches".
The land plot on which the house has been built is in fact the territory of a former motor pool located at the driveway from Moscow to Odintsovo, to the left of the Mozhaisk Highway where the scattered private cottages give way to residential high-rises. The place was suggestive of creating here a prominent building, an “entrance” landmark of sorts, outstanding and memorable, signifying the change from the village to the city scale.
From the standpoint of planning techniques, the project follows the principles of quarterly development - so it is not surprising that it represented the so-recently-popular genre at Arch Moscow. Raised on a single stylobate one level above the ground, the three units "embrace" the trapeze-shaped land plot along its perimeter. One of them, the longest, marks the borders from the northeast and from the northwest, forming almost a right angle along the Vokzalnaya Street and the Mozhaisk Highway. The second - stands like an impregnable bastion on the western border of the plot. The third building, the most compact one, occupies the south position leaving wide passages that lead to the landscaped yard organized upon the stylobate.
What is interesting is the fact that the yard here is of a two-level kind - not a yard, really, but a curious vertical structure: the upper one, green and quiet, spreads on the roof of the stylobate, while the busy upper one, with a whole system of driveways and streets, one piercing the whole complex from bed to end, hides inside. This solution helped to significantly save up the territory that was initially, as usual, barely enough for the construction of such a large residential complex. Besides, by raising the yard one floor up in the air, the architects were able to make it almost completely vehicle-free, providing only the fire lanes stretching along the outer side of the complex - under the beautiful cantilevers.
With the rather simple and laconic planning, the first thing that catches one's eye when looking at the complex is its incredibly sophisticated silhouette with a height drop from five to seven floors. The authors say that these height drops are their response to the requirement to observe the insolation norms and provide the necessary amount of light for the people living in the new complex and for the people from the neighboring houses. It seems to me that this is false modesty, though: coming up and drawing in detail a sophisticated silhouette is always more difficult and time-consuming than finding a simple and efficient solution with the help of an insolation ruler superimposed upon the master plan. In this case, however, the insolation ruler was not the ultimate means but one of the designing instruments. As a result, in the part where the land plot borders closely on the residential five-story buildings, the height of the new complex drops down to seven floors. From the direction of the Vokzalnaya Street, where, at some distance from the construction site, three twelve-story buildings are situated, the border of the complex is formed by a jagged stepping block whose skyline follows the sun rays so as not to be on the neighbors' light.
The authors also found a way to provide the necessary amount of light for the apartments inside of the yard. Obviously, the decrease in the number of floors considerably influenced the end output of square meters. The loss was to be made up for: this is how the idea to play around with the typology of the apartments. We already wrote about the "Ostozhenka" architects dealing with a similar challenge when building "Water Colors" residential complex. In this case, a slightly different solution was found: in order to squeeze the required amount of square footage into the given dimensions, the architects took the buildings that marked the boundaries of the complex, and stretched them up to twenty-two meters as opposed to the regular sixteen. This was possible thanks to the deep vertical niches that at large intervals pierce the volumes of the buildings all along the length of the complex. Around the niches, the architects placed the kitchens whose windows overlook the yard, while the living rooms and the bedrooms get the maximum amount of ambient light.
Apart from the interesting typological solution and the necessary "square footage output", the architects were able to come up with a very attractive image of the inside-the-yard facades. Thanks to the deep cutaway niches, the yard-oriented facades turned into a semblance of slender towers of different height that form fractured and variously-scaled development that is really human-proportionate. The rhythm of the pattern formed by the walls, together with the different heights of the volumes, makes the complex look like a giant church organ or maybe some rocky mountain.
Especially beautiful and robust the complex looks in the rays in the setting sun when its slanting rays - one of the main instruments of shape-building, they really do a great "carving" sculptural job here - cast long shadows on the walls of the complex, and the whole things stats looking pretty sci-fi. In a word, a "sunstroke", as the authors who highly appreciate the meaning of the sunlight in making their architecture complete aptly called it.
However, it was not the sun that the architects were inspired by, or, rather, not the sun alone. The whole image of the complex vividly shows its creators' love for the Russian avant-garde tradition. This can be seen both from the usual "constructivist" colors - gray, white, red, and crimson - and by the thought-out work with the form where particular attention is paid not only to the substance but to the void as well. Giant "chunks" of the body of the building get simply taken out of it, like, for example, the cantilevers overhanging above the fire lanes or the already-mentioned vertical niches. Also, the substance-and-void vocabulary of constructivism gives birth to the opening that appears between the northwest and northeast buildings, through which, like through a ravine, the rays of the setting sun penetrate into the yard. Another sunstroke, to be sure.
The most outstanding element in this array of voids, however, is the huge arch that pierces one of the buildings from end to end and opens up a magnificent view of the Mozhaisk Highway, the town's main transport artery. A corner of the twenty-five story building ominously overhangs in the air. As for its support, it is provided, in the classic tradition of Russian avant-garde, by the bright-red volume placed inside this giant arch (also painted red). A red parallelepiped inside a red cube! This "red leg" in fact functions as the landmark of the entrance of the city - bright and memorable.
"...Based on the architectural experience of the 1920's, and using their lexicon, we tried to revise this territory in our own unique way - shares Rais Baishev - For the language of architecture, painting, and sculpture, air is oftentimes more important than substance is. Hence the huge cantilevers and the giant arch that leaves the complex devoid of at least fifteen fully-fledged apartments, and the "slit" between two buildings, the one that gives you the feeling of space".
The street facades that correspond not to the human, but already to the city scale, are designed in a different way. Here, the smooth and uninterrupted surfaces of the walls are devoid of any plastics whatsoever. The "fractured" feel of one's perception of it is only provided by the stepping silhouette and the color solution that let the architects prevent the volume from looking too big or too bulky. The opaque but still saturated gray color of the crowning part of the complex blends with the tones of the overcast leaden sky. As for the main body of the building that is "tied up" to the skyline of the surrounding houses, it was designed unobtrusive white. Thus, the facade looks as if a strict horizon line was drawn upon it: everything that is below it belongs to the city, everything that is above - to the sky.
The desire to soften the volume and make it proportionate not only to humans but also to the environment shoes in details. For example, to conceal the massiveness of the main volumes, the architects came up with corner windows - and the pieces of glass look as if they were "embracing" the corners of the building. And this is yet another curtsy to the ideas of Bauhaus and Russian constructivism. Very large, floor-to-ceiling and equal in their size square glass apertures set the general rhythm for the entire complex, and, besides, create extra possibilities for developing one's interior design ideas.
The entire necessary social infrastructure is situated in the stylobate whose plastic and color solution is perceived not from distant vantage points but when one comes close to it. On the level of the first floor, as an offset to the flat vertical forms of the residential units, the facade of the non-residential part is designed in as plastic a manner as possible. Executed from colored glass, it reminds a stylized surrealistic river bank, washed out by the whitewater flow or maybe a fragment of rock with bright-red clay loam inserts showing through... And this is now the waterline through which the sun shines "undulating on the water of the broad lakes".
In Three Voices
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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
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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
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...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.