Presently, Moscow's gallery "A3" is hosting the exhibition entitled "Estrin Code". Its subtitle is "everything you wanted to know about the architect but were shy to ask". The curator of the exhibition is a young art expert Anastasia Dokuchaeva. Together with Sergey Estrin, she chose for exhibiting mostly graphic works done in different techniques and materials, and she was right to do so.
The small halls of the cozy gallery give you an impression that you have found yourself inside a folder with architectural drawings of various epochs. Only one does not carefully lay them out on the table barely breathing but, creasing their edges, pours the sheets into the folder, really fast, achieving the "cartoon" effect. The animation effect of the restless, shifty, and wanton architecture is truly amazing. Sergey Estrin is a great practicing architect and a true virtuoso when it comes to graphics. He can draw scherzo and capriccio ON anything and WITH anything really. When you look at his towers, bridges, arches, and vaults executed in magic markers, charcoal, pencils, ballpoint pen, and gold leafy technique on paper, Plexiglas, corrugated cardboard, kraftpaper, and tracing paper - you get a feeling that the entire history of architecture is rustling before you, miraculously come alive and spinning in a passionate dance.
Quite symbolic is the fact that "Estrin Code" exhibition takes place almost concurrently to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts' "Paper Architecture. The End of History". At Estrin's example you realize that the three decades of "paper architecture" movement (its main ideologist Yuri Avvakumov considers its starting point to be the 1st of August, 1984, when the editorial office of "Yunost" ("Youth") magazine hosted an exhibition entitled "Paper Architecture") - you realize that these three decades are not at all "the end" of its history but indeed the height of its golden age. If we are to think of the key figures of the soviet and post-soviet "paperists" (Brodsky, Utkin, Avvakumov, Belov, Fillipov, and Zosimov), what brings Estrin close to them is the virtuoso theme development, the whetted project thinking and the love of the quotation-based postmodernist discourse. For example, the very title and subtitle of the exposition already ring the bells of hidden quotes to the two fashionable movies that are quoted literally everywhere to become a recognizable designer brand. On the essential level, the postmodernist connotations of Sergey Estrin's drawings are quite convincing.
Of course, it is great that the graphic culture of both the "paperists" in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and Sergey Estrin's works can be traced back to the decorators of the baroque theater (Valeriani, the Bibien family, and Gonzaga). Their feather-drawn major and minor scherzos with their colonnades, palace enfilades, and dark underground vaults legitimize the genre of "panarchitecture" that rules out the traditional division into "baroque", "neoclassic" and "premodern". This theater empire is, of course, ruled by Giovanni Batista Piranesi who doubtlessly had a great influence on Estrin. In one ballpoint pen picture of 2011 he even plays at imitating (forgive me my movie-quoting again) of dark-toned velvet strokes of Piranesian etchings. Piranesi was probably the first person in architectural graphics who made us believe that the very invention of a grand-scale edifice is at times more valuable than its implementation, and the play of mind (capriccio) is the art goal in itself, without even the means that justify it or that may be justified by it. His engraved world, sometimes unintelligible but still highly appreciated by his contemporaries, bravely and mightily legalized architecture's right to live by the laws of all arts at once. Not only the art of building (this was pretty self-evident) but also by the laws of music, poetry, theater, and even filmmaking (it was not by chance that Eisenstein wrote about Piranesi). This was the world where the cyclopian structures of the awe-inspiring edifices were at once the scene and the artists of the great extravaganza performance staged by Her Majesty Architecture.
Just like Piranesi in the novel by Prince Odoevsky, Sergey Estrin builds a bridge through the centuries, making a direct contact from the XVIII century to the visionary of the epoch of avant-garde Jacob Chernikhov with his graphic capriccios. In his compositions, Jacob Chernikhov explored the possibilities of being sensitive in terms of inventing new avant-garde shapes and forms. Having no fear of getting labeled for eclecticism, Chernikhov introduced into his constructivist industrial spaces fragments and shapes of "traditional" architecture, inscribing the themes of baroque palaces into the multistory skyscrapers. Sergey Estrin even has sheets entitled "Chernikhov № 35" and "Chernikhov № 38". In these pictures, he turns the avant-garde guru's light sketches into 3D shapes. He shows them when viewed from different angles and turns a sketch into an elaborated project. Such postmodernist "stunts" with amplitude from Piranesi to Chernikhov, involve many a viewer into the orbit of formal metamorphoses. Particularly breathtaking are Sergey Estrin's scherzos dedicated to the architecture of the sci-fi cities of the future. In this case he enters into a dialogue with George Krutikov with his "flying city" concept, and Anton Lavinsky with his "city on plate springs", and El Lisitsky with his "horizontal skyscrapers", and Alexander Labas with his architectural ufology.
Sergey Estrin's drawings are very musical. In these terms, he continues the tradition of the architectural capriccio invented by one of the founders of the USSR's paper architecture, who lived as many years as Mozart did - 35 - Vyacheslav Petrenko (1947 – 1982). The works by Vyacheslav Petrenko are showcased at the exhibition in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. They are definitely worth seeing in order to understand the similarities and the differences between Sergey Estrin and Vyacheslav Petrenko, the founder of architectural inventions on paper. The similarity lies in the fact that the architecture in their drawings has a lot in common with specifically Mozart's sheet music: light, exquisite, virtuoso, and dancing. The differences, however, lie in the conceptual platforms.
In his drawings, Vyacheslav Petrenko (particularly in the mega-project of a sailing center in Tallinn) proposed the philosophical idea of a "universal space" that would be capable of housing and implementing the different themes of "stringing the architectural volumes upon the world's power lines" (quoted from one of the master's notepads). Like many paperists of the eighties, Vyacheslav Petrenko supplied his each sheet with detailed explication in which he defined the showcased architectural space via turning to various philosophical, social, and cultural associations. The perfect constants of the human being were the main theme and the ultimate meaning to him.
Sergey Estrin does not go as far as to supply his drawings with verbal explanations. His montage is not about the search for the right solution but about the endless variety together with the possibility of solving the space-and-plastique problems that by default cancel each other out. He is very contemporary. He makes a perfect match for today's digital multimedia world in which universality gave way to the unlimited number of discrete options. His drawings in a sometimes wayward and wanton manner reminds of the Art House movies of the recent years. The symptoms are laid bare before us - the choice is left up to the viewer.
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.
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.