Roman Leonidov got a completed but still not-too-load-capacious basement, and an adventurous creative-minded customer that was not afraid of experimenting - which lead to the appearance of a house that one could even have a hard time coming up with the name for - an "X-house".
Written by: Alla Pavlikova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
Located in a small settlement near the Pirogovskoe Lake and amidst the picturesque surroundings (woodland on the one side and the lake on the other), the house, as is often the case, ended up in the hands of Leonidov's bureau with its basement floor already complete in accordance with the previous project - its plan and even some of its proportions and outlines were already defined. The owners of the house, however, the open-minded people opposed to static and symmetrical forms, we're looking to get an "unusual" house and asked the architects to come up with something new, something that would look different from its neighbors. The surrounding nature, according to Roman Leonidov, also urged him to look for an unconventional futuristic and sculptural shape.
Besides, the incomplete house had in it a fair number of project mistakes and issues that, according to the architect, had to be dealt with literally on the fly. Roman Leonidov recalls that the image of a modern and versatile "not even a house but rather an ocean liner" came to him almost at once. On top of the new project that the customer wanted to remake and improve, new shapes would appear juxtaposed on one another. Without tying themselves to any particular style and without looking back to any modern fashionable trends, the architects were creating new volumes and contours, new details and composition elements that were pivoted on the already-existing central nucleus, transforming it completely.
Thus the house turned into a metaphor of a ship that stood proudly under its sails filled with the wind, some fantasy ship in an imaginary sea. There are two sails and they look at one another - which never happens in real life - and it looks as if the romantic image is deliberately confused by the cubist artist that cut it open and turned it inside out. The curve of the sail, however, is drawn in a precise and energetic stroke, and it seems that the smaller sail, resisting the force of the wind, is "hurrying up" the larger one, not letting it lose its way.
The theme of this architectural image can be also regarded in a different way: the curved marquee, efficiently using the bent beams of glued wood, covers the main three-story volume bringing it to the ultimate degree of generalization. It would have looked lonely had it not been for the two minor volumes supporting it from either side: one of them follows the curve of the main sail on a miniature scale but proudly turns its back on its "parent". The other one, double-height, and including the communication nucleus of the stairwell and the elevator, is covered from the outside by a sloping "screen" wall and grows wider at the top. The plans of these two minor volumes are exquisite curves.
Having ribs inside of them and covered with aluminum scales on the outside, the large forms of bent wood are combined with the Corbusier white slabs of the intermediate floors and panoramic stained-glass windows, the Mondrian pattern of the metallic window sashes and the corner supports. The picture is completed by inserts of natural stone placed at the bends of the marquees, and by the openwork railings of numerous balconies. Apart from the "ship", the result looks a bit like a giant insect or dime space apparatus that has just landed here and is now opening its hatches, capable, if necessary of curling back up into a silvery ball.
Special skills were required from the designers: apart from the fact that the building has quite a peculiar configuration, they had to take into consideration the peculiarities of its framework that the building inherited from the original project. The detailed examination of the already-existing part showed that the house could be built over but could NOT be made any heavier. For this very reason, the architects introduced the framework walls, the rigid disks of the intermediate floors holding the large volume from sliding horizontally off-center, and the vertical rigid nucleus that fixes it on the steel multi-strand cables. The structure of the top floors is predominantly wooden, which also helped to solve the weight issue (the house made the nominee list of "ArchiWOOD" whose winners were announced late in May at ArchMoscow). Incidentally, one of the interesting features of this house is the virtuoso combination of different construction materials. When viewed from the outside, the metal cornices look metallic, while the concrete parts of the ground floor are coated with wood panels of a cold water-resembling shade. Together, this produces a really surprising effect - at a first glance one cannot tell just what this thing is exactly made of. Besides, the very materials behave in an unconventional way: the wood, normally meant to look like shafts and beams, gets bent beyond recognition here, while the concrete that by default is meant to be poured into just about any shape humbly sticks to being a flat surface; even the arrogant stones are tucked away in the cavities between the "sails".
The interior design of the house is quite logic and includes a lot different things, from the spacious bedrooms on the second floor to the master's studio under the bent wooden beams on the third, and the exposition space, a mini exhibition in the double-height hall with a stairway. Quite expectedly, there is also a spa, a gym, and a dancing hall next to the dining room on the first floor; from the dining room, one can enter the "minor sail" which is in fact a sunlit terrace glazed from three sides, and from there - go out to the open balcony on the roof of a broad П-shaped marquee that serves as the awning for the guest parking lot. The underground tier has in it the maintenance rooms; an individual block next to the main entrance having in it the living premises for the service personnel and the garage. The architects carefully thought out the vicinity of the rooms inside the house and arranged them in such a way as to provide access from each one of them onto the balcony or the terrace.
The diversity of the forms and functions is offset by the somewhat ascetic quality of the interior design in which the main part is played by the daylight that easily permeates the house through the transparent walls. Apart from that, the house is oriented in exact accordance with the cardinal points: the sun goes round, lights up some rooms, then others, and plays on the bends of the walls, the furniture, and the ceiling. Leaving as many as possible flat and smooth surfaces, the authors use for decoration the most simple materials: light-colored stone, wood, concrete, and stucco. At some spots, metal, glass, and leather appear. The absence of color "en masse " is compensated by unexpected local "flashes" in the form of bright furniture or multicolored textured fabrics.
The main facade is turned to the water, as well as most of the open balconies and terraces. The landscaped yard gradually bleeds into the lake shore with the cobweb of its trails - later on, this place will get a grain garden and a lawn of bright flowers.
This house is far from "simple", it contains a tense "inner dialogue" - suffice it to take the two arcs that support the energy of the main theme: instead of comfortably snuggling together, the main volume and the adjoining terrace turn away from each other, arching their backs, although still keeping an obvious resemblance. An argument instead of a hierarchy, a depression where you might be expecting a smooth descent, and the play of textures and the habitual roles of different materials that supports this "vocal harmony": the metal-sheathed bent wood, and the plain concrete masked to imitate the wood - the house looks as if it were taking itself apart - and then puts itself back together again, being the perfect master of the language of deconstruction: the manifestation inside this tense shape of attraction and repulsion is akin to the atomic kind, like the alternation of volumes and rests. Meanwhile, in spite of this tense animated plastic dialogue, Roman Leonidov was able to avoid overloading his author gesture with excessive detail but subject it to the meditation of the landscape. But then again, while sharing about his project, the architect stresses that he was only able to achieve the desired result through the joint creative work and mutual understanding with his customer who was always open to experiment.
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.
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.
The Outer Space
Honoring the 300th anniversary of the Kuznetsk coal fields in 2021, a new passenger terminal of the Aleksey Leonov Airport in the city of Kemerovo will be built, designed by GK Spectrum and ASADOV Architectural Bureau.
The Pivot of Narkomfin Building
Ginzburg Architects finished the restoration of the Narkomfin Building’s laundry unit – one of the most important elements of the famous monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture.
The housing complex “Respublika” is so large that it can be arguably called a micro-town, yet, at the same time, it easily overcomes most of the problems that usually arise with mass housing construction. How could Archimatika achieve that? We are examining that on the example of the first stage of the complex.
The Flowing Lines
The five houses of the “Svoboda” block belonging to the “Simvol” residential complex present a vivid example of all-rounded work performed by the architects on an integral fragment of the city, which became the embodiment of the approach to architecture that hitherto was not to be seen anywhere in Moscow: everything is subjected to the flow of lines – something like a stream, enhanced by the powerful pattern of the facades akin to “super-graphics”.
A City by the Water
The concept of a large-scale housing development at the edge of Voronezh, near the city reservoir, or “the sea”, as it is locally called, uses the waterside height difference to create a sophisticated public space, paying a lot of attention to the distribution of masses that determine the look of the future complex if viewed from the opposite bank of the river.
A Journey to the Country of Art Deco
The “Little France” residential complex on the 20th line of the Vasilyevsky Island presents an interesting make-believe dialogue between its architect, Stepan Liphart, the architect of the New Hermitage, masters of the Silver Age, and Soviet Art Deco, about interesting professional topics, such as a house with a courtyard in the historical center of Saint Petersburg, and the balance between the wall and the stained glass in the architectonics of the facade. Here are the results of this make-believe conversation.
A House in a Port
This housing complex on the Dvinskaya Street is the first case of modern architecture on the Gutuevsky Island. The architectural bureau “A-Len” thoroughly explores the context and creates a landmark for further transformations of this area of Saint Petersburg.
Balance of Infill Development
Anatoly Stolyarchuk Architectural Studio is designing a house that inadvertently prevails over the surrounding buildings, yet still tries to peacefully coexist with the surrounding environment, taking it to a next level.
The Precious Space
Evolution Design and T+T Architects reported about the completion of the interior design project of Sberbank headquarters on the Kutuzovsky Avenue. In the center of the atrium, hovers the “Diamant” meeting room; everything looks like a chest full of treasures, including the ones of a hi-tech kind.
Big Little Victory
In a small-sized school located in Domodedovo in Moscow metropolitan area, ASADOV_ architects did a skillful job of tackling the constraints presented by the modest budget and strict spatial limitations – they designed sunlit classrooms, comfortable lounges, and even a multi-height atrium with an amphitheater, which became the center of school life.
The Social Biology of Landscape
The list of new typologies of public spaces and public projects has been expanded yet again — thanks to Wowhaus. This time around, this company came up with a groundbreaking by Russian standards approach to creating a place where people and animals can communicate.
Watched by the Angels from up Above
Held in the General Staff building of the Hermitage Museum, the anniversary exhibition of “Studio 44” is ambitious and diverse. The exhibition was designed to give a comprehensive showcase of the company’s architecture in a whole number of ways: through video, models, drawings, installations, and finally, through a real-life project, the Enfilade, which the exhibition opens up, intensifies, and makes work the way it was originally intended.
A New Version of the Old City
The house at Malaya Ordynka, 19, fits in perfectly with the lineup of the street, looking even as if it straightened the street up a little, setting a new tone for it – a tone of texture, glitter, “sunny” warmth, and, at the same time, reserved balance of everything that makes the architecture of an expensive modern house.
Stepan Liphart: “Standing your ground is the right thing to do”
A descendant of German industrialists, “Jophan’s son”, and an architect, speaks about how studying architectural orders tempers one’s character, and how a team of just a few people can design grand-scale housing projects to be built in the center of Saint Petersburg. Also: Santa Claus appearing in a Stalin high-rise, an arch portal to the outer space, mannerism painting, and the palaces of Paris – all covered in an interview with Stepan Liphart.
Honey and Copper
In the Moscow area, the architect Roman Leonidov designed the “Cool House” residence, very much in the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, spreading it parallel to the ground, and accentuating the horizontal lines in it. The color composition is based on juxtaposition of warm wood of a honey hue and cold copper blue.
The Ring on the Saisara Lake
The building of the Philharmonic Hall and the Theater of Yakut Epos, standing on the shore of the sacred lake, is inscribed into an epic circle and contains three volumes, reminiscent of the traditional national housing. The roof is akin to the Alaas – a Yakut village standing around a lake. In spite of its rich conceptual agenda, the project remains volumetrically abstract, and keeps up a light form, making the most of its transparency, multiple layers, and reflections.
Architecture of Evanescence
On the Vernadskogo Avenue, next to the metro station, appeared a high-rise landmark that transformed the entire area: designed by UNK Project, the “Academic” business center uncovered, in the form of its architecture, the meanings of the local place names.
The Theater and Music Circles
The contest-winning ambitious grand-scale project of the main theater and concert complex of the Moscow area includes three auditoriums, a yard – a public area – a higher school of music, and a few hotels. It promises to become a high-profile center for the classical music festivals on a national scale.
The Line of a Hardened Breakthrough
Designed by Stepan Liphart, the housing complex “Renaissance” continues the line of the historical center of Saint Petersburg, reinterpreting the Leningrad Art Deco and the neoclassical architecture of the 1930-50’s in reference to the civilization challenges posed by our century.
The Regeneration Experience
The housing project “Metsenat”, which occupies the area next to the Resurrection Church in Moscow’s Kadashi, has a long and complicated history, full of protests, victories, and hopes. Now the project is complete: the architects were able to keep the views, the scale, and a few historical buildings; we can examine the end result now. The project was developed by Ilia Utkin.
The Terraces of the Crystal Cape
Proposed by Nikita Yavein, the concept of a museum, educational, and memorial complex to be built in the city of Sevastopol avoids straightforward accents and over-the-top dramatics, interpreting the history of this place along with the specifics of its landscape, and joining the public space of the operated stairway and amphitheaters with an imposing monument.
Evgeny Podgornov: “You need to make your projects visible”
The leader of Saint-Petersburg’s architectural company Intercolumnium explains why his company’s portfolio includes projects ranging from hi-tech to historicism, discourses upon high-rise landmarks, about the clients, and about the sources of the drive that the city needs.