Based on the visual and landscape survey that later on became a valuable part of the concept in its own right, the architects of "Ostozhenka" Bureau proposed to keep 85% of the views of the St Simon Monastery seen from the embankment, at the same time increasing the height of the residential buildings.
Written by: Anna Starostina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The territory in question is of quite a significant size - about 64 hectares - it stretches from south to north between the smooth bend of the Moskva River and the remains of the St Simon Monastery situated next to the "ZIL Peninsula" that is now also under reconstruction. The eery semi-industrial place keeps curious monuments of different epochs: from the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Church dating back to the XIV century and the monastery towers of the XVII century, the most famous of which is, of course, the tour guides' favorite, the "Barrel" Tower - down to the "ZIL" Palace of Culture designed by the Vesnin brothers (yes, back in the day it was built in the place of a destroyed monastery but now it has also became an important monument of architecture, so it goes) and Shukhov oil cisterns standing closer to the river. In the late fifties, a little more to the north, a 15000-capacity football stadium was built. Now it is planned that both the stadium and the architectural monuments will be preserved and at the same time a large residential complex will be built here, one whose concept the Ostozhenka architects have been developing for a few years now.
The concept required a detailed survey of the surroundings. Initially, the architects came up with the relevant to our time quarters that boasted the specified whopping three hundred thousand square meters of useful floor space. However, based on the landscape and visual survey, the licensing experts of the municipal authorities required that the height of the buildings should be cut down from thirty-three to eighteen meters so that these buildings would not block the view of the monastery and, most importantly, the "Barrel" tower together with the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Church. The "curtailed" buildings simply would not house the required amount of useful square footage. Then the architects conducted a landscape and visual survey of their own studying a dozen panoramic views of the St Simon Monastery if viewed from the Derbenevskaya Embankment and the Novospassky Bridge, and not only from the pedestrian's vantage point (the height of the horizon being 150 cm) but also from the driver's line of vision which is significantly lower (horizon 127 cm) and came forward with an alternative version: they increased the height of the buildings still more (up to 40+ meters) but what they did was break the quarterly order and position the buildings in a radial fashion, as if they were running away from the central tower in an exquisite geometrical fashion, and not evenly but smoothly bending their direction so as to provide a maximum number of views of the architectural monuments.
Indeed, the quarters blocked the view of the tower virtually from every conceivable angle. However, if lowered down to eighteen meters, even if we are to disregard the customer's square footage specifications, the complex was spreading over the ground in a single volume that, when viewed from a distance, looked a lot like a blind fence, above which the cone of the tower towered rather incongruously. Proposing to gather the volume in compact modernist rays, the authors achieved, on the one hand, the effect that the buildings now obscure not more than 15% of the monument views. On the other hand, when viewed from a moving car, there will appear the "picket fence effect": the tower will be seen all the time, as the architects claim. For them, this survey has long since become a part of the project in its own right. The specialists of the licensing board recognized that this solution wad a successful one.
In this case, the "fan" of slabs is the key revolutionary idea. All the "power lines" run up to the tower, as if the complex were paying homage to the monuments of architecture. Yes, it used to turn away from them, block them, even "destroy" them but now it has changed its mind and pays respect to the monuments. As such, the very idea of placing the houses in a radial fashion, or even at a ninety-degree angle to the street is not entirely groundbreaking, it is one of the techniques of the classic modernism, great for increasing the airing and insolation properties. However, what is interesting in this particular case is the fact that the essentially modernist plan is used specifically to accentuate the ancient monuments. It would be interesting to develop this idea in other Moscow projects, particularly the large ones, to "crumple" the city's folds and crinkles around its historical monuments - and maybe the city would become more refined and civilized. Generally, this is amazing how Ostozhenka can endow gigantic volumes with delicate feelings, as if "teaching elephants how to dance". And - what else can you do if the elephants are the only thing that this city ever gets.
Still, the architects did not entirely neglect the now-popular theme of the quarters - because the today's house simply must have a private courtyard of its own open only to its tenants - the "radiant" houses joined together to form large "horseshoes" opening up to the river in Ostozhenka's trademark arches, and to the tower - with the wings of double-L-shaped plans. These plans are used by the eight residential quarters standing along the river, from four to twelve floors. Together, they will house 2650 apartments of "business", "business+" and "premium" class. The total floor space of the project is 251 500 м2; according to estimates, it will be capable of housing a little under 6000 people. All the "quarter" buildings are raised on stylobates that include the shopping zones, social infrastructure, and the parking garages. The stylobates support the courtyards, private, but still not entirely closed: they command a broad view of the tower and, with a narrower perspective, toward the river.
Most of the apartments are double-sided, with large areas of glazing, which again enhances their connection to the surrounding panoramas. The turning of the radial buildings, besides the kind mentioned above, inside out, provides for the visitors both the views of the river and the St Simon Monastery.
The architects of Ostozhenka also came up with a traffic diagram of their own, more convenient than the one that had been initially designed for this territory. Presently, the traffic area ends just short of the territory of the St Simon Monastery, making an abrupt turn away from the river in the direction of the Velozavodskaya Street; meanwhile, according to the municipal development plans, the carriage way of the Simonovskaya Embankment must be continued, cutting the new area lengthwise in two. This is just the right solution for Moscow that is choking on the exhaust fumes from its endless traffic jams. The architects were able to show, however, that, by straightening its line just a little bit, they could place all the residential houses by the river, without separating them in two groups with a busy highway. This last solution will ensure that it will only be the monastery and the stadium that will be left behind the highway, while the entire residential complex with its massive infrastructure will adjoin the pedestrian infrastructure - which will significantly improve the quality of life of the people who will live here and the value of its apartments.
Ostozhenka's partner - the British company Gillespies that specializes specifically in landscape design - made a research of this area and developed a detailed plan of improvement on every level, from the tenants-only courtyards to the embankment promenade. As for the above-mentioned highway, Gillespies proposed to throw over it green bridges with bicycle trails. They also came up with three main walking routes: the stadium and the quay are linked by a descending "sport esplanade", from the monastery one can get here by a "historical route" (the surviving Shukhov cisterns will be turned into art objects). Meanwhile, between them meander the trails of the municipal park, the pedestrian trails uniting the entire area. There will be even a swimming pool.
Naturally, some might wonder: well, what about the facades? We have not yet heard a single word of them. The architects deliberately concentrated on the volume and planning solutions so as to showcase as accurately as possible the principle of handling such territories that they have come up with. "A facade is a very important category; recently, however, it has been taking more and more independence, and, just like Major Kovalev's nose in the famous novel by Gogol, it seems to exist and function quite independently now. What we ultimately got was buildings of a very complex shape, with numerous angles, facets, caves and protrusions, and we, of course, came up with a version of outward decoration but it isn't by any means obligatory. Maybe in some twenty or thirty years the facades will become changeable like the clothes that we wear" - says the leader of "Ostozhenka" Alexander Skokan.
The nucleus of this whole project is not its plastics but a chain of carefully elaborated ideas of improving a complex territory that required transformation and preservation at the same time. As is often the case in the situation when the authors find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea of the customer's square footage requirements and the municipal restrictions, the meanings got shifted here: the landscape and visual analysis, seemingly something secondary and peripheral, came to play the main part and became the very essence of this project; not only did it entail extra work but also changed the perception of the entire end result. And it is all the more remarkable that the outlines of the buildings took on not the chaotic "medieval" tooth-like quality but came out pretty whole and clear, forming together a clear and concise idea.
The fan of the "rays" - viewing angles - looks like the sun, the way Mayakovsky would draw it on his posters. Well, what can you say here? The masters of avant-garde also gave to the world a lot of interesting ideas, some of them people started appreciating but recently, and some maybe will be appreciated by our descendants. A survey is an important thing to do; sooner or later down the line it will have its effect.
The Energy Family
The housing complex Symphony 34 will be built in Moscow’s Savelovsky district; it will consist of four towers from 36 to 54 stories high. Each of the towers has an image of its own, but they all are gathered into a single architectural ensemble – a fragment of a new high-rise urban space lying outside the Third Transport Ring.
The Fifth Element
The high-end residential development in the Vsevolozhsky Lane features a combination of expensive stone and metal textures, immersing them into a feast of ornaments. The house looks like a fantasy inspired by the theater of the Art Nouveau and Symbolism era; a kind of oriental fairy tale, which paradoxically allows it to avoid direct stylization and become a reflection of one of the aspects of modern Moscow life.
Springboards and Patios
The central element of the manor house in the village of Antonovka, designed by Roman Leonidov, is the inner yard with pergolas, meant to remind its owner about his vacations in exotic countries. The exposed wooden structures emphasize the soaring diagonals of single-pitched roofs.
Adding Up a Growing City
The housing quarter “1147” is located at the border between the old “Stalin” district in the north and the actively developing territories in the south. Its image responds to a difficult task: the compound brick facades of the neighboring sections are different, their height varying from 9 to 22 floors, and, if we are look from the street, it seems as though the front of the city development, consisting from long narrow elements, is forming some sophisticated array at this very moment in front of our eyes.
Agility of the Modular
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
Polyphony of a Chaste Style
The “ID Moskovskiy” housing project on St. Petersburg’s Moscow Avenue was designed by the team of Stepan Liphart in the past 2020. The ensemble of two buildings, joined by a colonnade, is executed in a generalized neoclassical style with elements of Art Deco.
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.
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.