A new building on the Kulneva Street, next to "Mirax Plaza": the geometry of sharp shadows, glistening lights, and the shades of mature modernist techniques - all reminds about the fact that the new building occupies the place of a former seventies predecessor.
Written by: Tatiana Pashintseva, Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The new building of the multifunctional complex President Plaza of "A" class on the Kulneva Street was put into operation in December of 2014. Its large parallelepiped came in the stead of the production-and-administration building of Department of Presidential Affairs of the Russian Federation surrounded by the buildings of a large office center formerly known as "Mirax Plaza" and located across from the Moscow City between the river and the Kutuzovsky Avenue - although this particular building never was part of this complex, even if surrounded by it from three sides.
The construction of the two austere north towers of "Mirax" was started by Sergey Kiselev - President Plaza is located directly behind them and it is now perfectly viewable from the Third Transport Ring of Moscow. At some moment it might even seem that the new building has actually become the "finishing touch" of the "island" between the Kulneva Street and the TTR but this is not quite the case - when they build the elongated building of the former "Mirax" that, by the decision of the architectural council, is handled by Vladimir Plotkin, it will block the view of President Plaza with its volume. Ultimately, this place will get a complex designed by three different but still renowned Moscow architectural companies: Sergey Kiselev and Partners, SPEECH, and "Reserve".
The plans of reconstructing the building of the Department of Presidential Affairs first came about in 2006. Since that time, the 1,3-hectare land site changed hands a few times. The construction would be frozen and started anew depending on the financial powers of the owner and the consideration of the increasing load on the city's transport network. Over this time, the projects of this parallelepiped on the Kulneva Street were done by Nikolai Lyzlov, Vagan Vermishyan, and, probably, a lot of other authors.
As for its rectangular shape, the building of President Plaza inherits it from its soviet predecessor - this way, it makes the most of the land site's potential. The rectangular volume 135x75 meters, seventeen stories high, with a total height of 68 meters, houses the maximum of useful space, the original plan being to fill the side parts with apartments. Later on, however, the architects gave up this idea and filled the whole building with offices. The broad construction blueprint requires a large inner courtyard - the soviet building actually had one, in the shape of a dull square around the empty core. The architects of SPEECH optimized the planning to a certain degree: their building has two identical yards, separated by a broad "lintel" with useful space in it which helped to significantly increase the overall amount of useful square footage. As for the yards, approximately 25x33 meters, with an area of a little over eight hundred meters - this is a little bit more than the average Saint Petersburg "well" yard - these yards are designed predominantly to achieve better insolation results. Because of that, the panoramic glazing of their smooth inner walls is only at times interrupted by the strips of intermediate floors, while in order to liven up these surfaces, the architects use two kinds of glass - the transparent and the colored type, mostly painted into warm tones: yellow, orange, and red, whose brightness is offset by the odd inclusion of the purple tone.
The first floor is given away to the shops and cafés, and the second - to the conference halls and fitness centers - this part of the building belongs to the city; besides, its eastern facade, together with the long building of the former "Mirax Plaza", will form the pedestrian street that will run inside of the complex - there is still a long way to go before we actually see it but we hope that it will become a nice and busy one. The other floors, from third to sixteenth, are occupied by free space offices grouped around the communication nuclei with stairways and eight elevators.
The column spacing inside is 8.4 meters - this size, divided into six parts 1.4 meter each, became the module of the facade grid. This, however, is not the only thing that the inner structure of the building manifests itself with on the outside. The architects turn its only outside facade on the Kulneva Street and its adjacent south side wall into a moving mass of glass "televisions" of bay windows encased in silver frames of metal composite material. Some of the bay windows stand out from the wall 0.63, and some 1.3 meters - as a result, the large and the small ledges overlap, cross, and grow into one another forming a large, though somewhat irregular, asymmetric pattern. The facades look as if they were moving, like a chest of drawers with the drawers pulled at different lengths. This comparison is not arbitrary, by the way: besides their plastic expression, the bay windows add to the building's useful space and work to the customer's benefit. The square footage is increased yet a little bit more at the expense of the first floor standing out a little bit, supported by the slender triangular cantilevers. The cantilevers are only used on the "grand" facade on the Kulneva Street, and they add a twist of glamor to the building: the polished finishing metal glistens day and night, echoing the opaque glitter of the frames of the bay windows.
The two other facades: the north one, turned to the towers of "Mirax Plaza" and the east one that opens up on the future pedestrian street develop this theme without reducing it. The skewed silver "frames" of the "televisions" bleed together turning into protruding ribs to form a large-textured 3D ornament, although here its spacing grows a bit smaller. The metallic surfaces catch the light at different angles, the sharp ribs enhancing the contrast between the dark and the light tones to look like a geometric Grisaille picture that is backlit and livened up by the glitter of the glass background. Mostly, the tilting angle of the frames in respect to the wall is about 60 degrees but at times it gives way to a more gently sloping one - this is how the broad verticals appear that divide the grid; because of them, the pattern of the east facade looks a little like sand dunes undulating under the wind from the river. One might think that the glass caesuras of the east facade formed due to the fact that some parts of the rigorous metallic grid were "blown away" from their places. Although generally the grid remains firm and regular, offsetting the "shifting" of the glass-and-metal surface of the southwest part of the building.
In their explanatory note, the authors modestly write that "it was not so much about forming an original architectural image, as about developing a world-class complex meeting all the mandatory specifications, and the original facade design that would harmoniously fit "Mirax Plaza", at the same time highlighting the independence of the new object". Highlighting the independence is something that the authors did succeed in. But then again, as we have already noticed, in this case the architecture is very sensitive to its environment, the main theme being not the Kutuzovsky Avenue but the brutal futurist search of the mature modernism, even the "classical" tones being read through the prism of the seventies here. The silver geometric grid of metallic frames that also looks a bit like an enlarged fragment of a printed board, along the wires of which the light signals run; the "television" bay windows; the slender concrete cantilevers above the bottom floors - this building has a flavor of the first Soviet Sputnik or maybe the Soviet science fiction movies of the sixties and seventies, which makes perfect sense: President Plaza came instead of a seventies building, and the entire opposite side of the Kulneva Street consists of, though somewhat worn, the characteristic facades of those days, where the "ribbon" windows alternate with the slender vertical ribs. On the other hand, a twist of modern mobility and the "various facade" quality help it to fit in with the surrounding cityscape: examining the building from all sides, one cannot help but wonder how, with all the pragmatism that we see here, the architects were able to successfully catch the optimum balance between the diversity and the integrity. From a distance, the building fits in with the array of the avenue, and, from a close range, it stuns the viewer with the play of glittering surfaces, so different from the warm-shaded Stalin-era terra-cotta.
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.