The Museum of Architecture opened an exhibition on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the architectural bureau “Ostozhenka”. A big anniversary – after all, a quarter of a century – but the exhibition is small.
Written by: Tatiana Pashintseva Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The exhibition took place in two small halls of Schusev State Museum of Architecture. In one room, there is a slide show and videos projected on the wall, showing the workdays of “Ostozhenka”. They are a bit sped up on the rough relief of the white-stone setting of the XVIII century. All together it reminds a memorial and the flashback impression is completed by a real computer rarity standing in the corner – the actual Macintosh of 1994 (the bureau had existed five years by then) with a fourteen-inch screen and a draft opened in an actual, functioning program – as if you can sit and start working at any moment and the shadows of imaginary colleagues will move behind you about the walls. So one can really picture oneself inside “Ostozhenka”.
The walls of the other hall – the main one – are fully covered with a carpet of colored and black and white photos. Mostly these are amateur pictures collected during all the 25 years in the archive of the workshop, but there are also professional photos made specifically for the exhibition and posted on Instagram. The peculiar flashmob of preparing for the anniversary gathered a lot of employees – for a short while, however, since the workshop was hard at work on the concept for “Moskva River” and other projects during the preparation.
Portraits, buildings, people and panoramas of construction sites are sometimes grouped round a project or a date marked by a distinctive # sign. From time to time you can recognize familiar faces and noted buildings but then it merges into a single flow again reminding a Friends Page that being placed on the ancient vaulting was accidentally materialized but hasn’t lost its characteristics of a stream – of a flow of life.
At the inauguration ceremony, Alexander Skokan said: “What is 25 years? It is a whole life for a young man. Half of life for a mature person. And a third of life for an old man. I am so tempted to consider our anniversary in the context of today’s events that are the background of our life and that some tend to see tragically and some – with certain pathos. But we shall refrain and will not talk about it. Instead, we will be saying “thank you”. Thank you to this museum that welcomes us to live it up and celebrate within these walls for the third time now. Thank you to MArchI and to Ilya Lazarev – the godfather of our bureau. Thank you to those who have organized this exhibition – the authors of the concept: Kseniya Berdnikova, Maria Dekhtyar and Vanya Vorozhensky.”
Company “Lik” that continually cooperates with “Ostozhenka” received a special thanks and applause. Especially for the exhibition, “Lik” made a staircase as a gift for the museum upon the project of the architects: a black metal staircase like a fragment of a winding stairs now leads us from the yard into the basement and is mounted right on the vaulting. That is why a one-to-one draft of the staircase had to be brought to the place to test fit and be completed before the final construction. “Working with these people is like a fairy tale – said Alexander Skokan about “Lik” – you tell them what you need and they say: go have a sleep on it. The morning you wake up – everything has already been dione and even better than you had expected!”
According to Alexander Skokan, working on a project of a staircase is by no means less interesting than on a town planning design that the workshop has been working with more often lately. “We do city scale projects – such as the Moskva River - at the same time with such purely design projects like this staircase that are also interesting to us.”
Andrew Gnezdilov that now holds the position of architect in chief of NIiPI General Plan of Moscow and was present at the exhibition as a guest and couldn’t help taking part in its preparation commented on the exhibition: “Masha, Kseniya and Vanya have found the perfect, fabulous language for describing these twenty five years. This is the way we recollect our lives – the memories fall into pixels of image flashes. I was astonished as I saw it. It looks like a chaos – but it is what I consist of. We all consist of mixed fragments – where it is hard to tell the line between “me” and “us”.
Maria Dekhtyar compared the vaulted space decorated with photographs with a cave covered with mosaic and added: “Everyone knows the projects anyway. We wanted to make this even seem more like a birthday. And such a photo album is the most suitable format”. Maria created a logo for the exhibition in the form of crossed roman figures XX and V: they are also associated with the letter V for Victoria and with the windows of “Embassy House” in Borisoglebsky Alley.
Smiles, laughter, focused working on a project, lively discussions of some problems, having tea, celebrations, designer supervision – the photo retrospective includes completely different, sometimes seemingly insignificant moments of Ostozhenka life. But all of them justify the words of Dmitry Gusev – one of the cofounders of the workshop: “From the very beginning we have had a friendly warm atmosphere that reminded a group of people that gathered together to make a contest. There was no hint of a formal staff – everyone enjoyed each other’s company and was motivated. The atmosphere in a workshop gives a real boost of creative energy when it supports the professional motivation – not financial. And this when everyone works in his or her own style”.
The resulting combination of the staircase made for the museum – a real and at the same time artist built work – that will stay and be in a small way but actually useful and the home felt informal exposition turned out to be very right. A calm, a bit ironical attitude to oneself, a wish to give somebody else a present on you own birthday – as hobbits do – on the part of a well-known bureau engaged in large projects for Moscow – it all looks very winning.
Besides, it was impossible to display all things of Ostozhenka in some different manner in such a small – even though cozy – hall. So it was – quarter of a century as a stroke – and it makes a colorful but sound picture. It exists only as a whole, it cannot be divided as a mosaic cannot be divided into pieces of smalt, rain cannot be divided into single drops and forest cannot be divided into single leaves.
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.
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.