The project of an office complex at the first kilometer of the Rublev Shosse was covered by us back in 2008. Now it is complete; the adjacent territory still looks far from attractive but, when speeding down Moscow Ring road, one will hardly be able to notice these insignificant details; besides, the complex fits in very nicely with the perspective of Moscow's highways.
I must confess at this point that I was only able to appreciate these buildings now that they have been actually built. Back on 2007 when Sergey Kiselev showed the project to me saying with a fair share of pride in his voice: "just look what we've come up with for the first kilometer of the Rublev Shosse”, I just did not get it. What I saw was two large but nonetheless exquisite buildings, placed, in a VKHUTEMAS fashion, at a right angle to each other, and standing on aluminum Corbusier legs. The broad surfaces of the glass facades - when still on paper - were wrapped into golden copper mesh: the then-fashionable shape of a "sliced roll" was playing a game of its own with the perspective and scale of Moscow Ring Road. The complex was all about modernism, laconism, and the simplicity of design, "as simple as one-two-three", as Sergey Kiselev was prone to explain. A pure shape, a little bit of glitter, lightly but nonetheless expertly drawn contours of the slabs... Somehow I could not help feeling that this form was tell-tale, and now it has become clear to me just what the whole thing is all about, what plastic hint there is in the two interconnected buildings, one that makes them a not-by-chance addition to the road junction.
The complex is a SIGN. The two giant crystal arrows - precious, in a golden frame, the Cyclopean fairy-tale arrows - are more than appropriate at this Moscow area's “high-class” junction; it is the Rublev Shosse, after all. So, the architects went ahead and revised this theme - with but a hint, of course, how could it be otherwise - neither life nor art allow for more, so, there are no actual arrows here, I just seem to have seen them for a split second, so never mind. There are only the asymmetric "dovetails", the slopes of the facade surfaces six stories high and a three story high slant of the roof enhancing the perspective. Where there could be the arrows, the volumes are slashed sidewise, and it's only the cleavages of the dovetails that remain on the other side; the right thing to do, too, you just could not go and build actual arrows here. However, when seen from a distance, and, furthermore, from a car speeding down the Ring Road, everything inevitably comes together to form a perfect sign. Now nobody will miss this junction marked by such a "sign" building.
In the original version of the project, the two buildings looked more high-profile and more, let's say, luxury-class. The crystal glitter was enhanced by the slanting marquees, also made of glass, and scattered all over the entire surface: similar "stripes" are used in the facade of Hermitage-Plaza but in this case the architects had to simplify the project, taking away the stripes and simplifying the glass fragments in the fine grid of the window sashes and in the coarse grid of intermediate floors and the sparsely set verticals that fall into a restrained modernist pattern of punctured lines. And still, the slabs of the buildings retained their "crystal" quality and remained completely transparent - only the strokes of the "flaps" were replaced by the 70-style reserved regularity.
Another detail: many buildings that are still in construction are made in such a way that you first walk past them with pleasure watching the beautiful simplicity of the concrete column grid and later on with a twist of disappointment when this three-dimensional structure is hidden inside a blind shell. In this case, however, thanks to the transparency of the glass, the architects were able to keep the original effect of a 3D grid - well, maybe not entirely but on a sunny day you involuntarily freeze seeing through this whole building end to end. The crystallization of the space, turning from the ethereal into the habitable, and multi-tier takes place easily, without any tectonic overcoming - as if the complex was cut out from a piece of paper by an expert hand and then put to fit in perfectly at the right time and at the right place. This effect is felt particularly strong where the slanting surfaces of the side facades cross with the straight inner grid.
In the process of streamlining the costs, the framing contour underwent the most dramatic changes of all. Immediately after the crisis of 2008, it lost its ethereal golden glow and gave up its "jewelry" connotations. The new color of the facing panels, now aluminum, was chosen very carefully, by means of a brittle compromise between the customer's wishes and the architects' plans; the architects would try it on on location and tried to estimate how this or that color would look in this or that particular kind of weather. Finally, they opted for the light-beige panels that during an overcast day look moderately opaque and, on a sunny day, glisten on the slanting surfaces endowing the facades with "semi-precious" silver hue.
The side facades got slits of windows: in 2008, the architects were considering the version with regular rows of "pinpoint" square window sashes - but ultimately (and, justly, in my opinion) they implemented a different one. The former version was from the nineties, and the latter had two meanings to it: on the one hand, the beige color looks a bit like the Jurassic stone and the vertical windows partly match the current moderately-classical trend. On the other hand, however, the rows of small, grouped into pairs vertical windows in a pale-blue wall cause totally different associations, far from glamorous - from a distance, they look like the holes in a punchcard, the cardboard information carrier in the computers from the eighties. A great way to revise the history of the building, as well as the place in the spirit of a notorious spiral: enough of shaking your golden bracelets, guys, time to get back to the "punchcard" ideals and form some foundation in the spirit of Isaac Azimov.
The architects of "Sergey Kiselev and Partners" also developed the design of the entrance lobbies in pretty much the same key: laconically but with a "resonant" technique employed. The glass walls, the dark floor, the beige walls and the white ceiling slit here and there by the bands of lights whose lines continue in the perspective reflecting in the glittering polished stone. Just in the same way, the two buildings reflect each other.
Ultimately, the building came out cool, calm, and collected, even though not without a fair share of nobility issuing from the transparency of the slanted surfaces. The architects take special pride in the fact that they were able to persuade the customer not to straighten out the facades to the point of the building turning into a parallelepiped box in the process of streamlining the costs but keep the original curves of the volumes that were specifically calculated to look great when viewed from a car passing by. This is an extraordinary piece of luck: the thing is that Moscow Ring Road is still dominated by shopping malls, warehouses, and, strange though it may seem, strips of woodland: not much to catch the eye but this complex is different. From the highway, the complex does not look particularly large and, thanks to the perpendicular position of the second building, it looks rather shifty - it quickly alternates views and even provokes the driver to make a brief stop to get a better look at it. The clear and concise shape works all by itself with its every stroke thanks to which becomes immune from the consequences of streamlining the decoration costs. Quite often, it's just the other way around: in spite of its expensive decorative finish, the building looks nothing more than a box, and you really pity the fact that so decorative money went to waste. Luckily, here it is not the case - the spreading of perforated wings is just as regal as is they were actually golden. A very appropriate, and, let's say, light-hearted work of architectural art. One of the latest implemented projects that Sergey Kiselev personally worked upon…
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.