The pavilion representing Russia at EXPO 2015 is located in the western part of the mile-long axis of the world exposition, which the organizers called in the spirit of antiquity: decamanus. It is rather far, about a thirty minutes walk, from the main entrance, back from the main square of the exposition. However, the pavilions of Japan, Turkey, and the USA are also situated nearby, and the territory was evidently divided by way of lottery – there is no logic to be seen in their mutual alignment – it seems to be quite random. The sections of the national pavilions are densely collected around the main axis and are cut up in three different ways. Middle-sized sections – narrow lines, bigger sections that have a P-shape in plan: a narrow arm leads to the decamanus and the wide convenient rectangle is placed deeper; a corner cut on the side of the main street forms another small lot of the next pavilion. The section of the Russian pavilion is one of the large P-shaped ones. The project by Sergey Choban, Alexey Ilyin and Marina Kuznetskaya was selected at a closed selection organized by the selection committee of the Russian section in February 2014. According to Sergey Choban, the result was in particular determined by the right choice of the high-rise accent in the context of a dense development, limited viewing angles and exact height restrictions. It was also important that SPEECH was able to offer a bright, distinctive volume, that develops the traditions of the Soviet and Russian buildings at world expositions in the previous years and, what also matters, a volume that could be built within a limited time and budget.
So the densely cut master plan of the exposition set a tough task before the architects: how to make the entrance noticeable if it faces the main street only with its narrow fore part? EXPO offers plenty of answers to this question: ramparts, amusement arcades, maze gardens… The version introduced by Sergey Choban is one of the most architectural ones - his pavilion falls into line with the well-defined plastic gesture: the long canopy of almost extreme proportions. Its sharp peak with a slightly bowed mirror backing strip easily soars up over the narrow square paved with wood attracting the visitors with the wholeness of its shape and the clarity of its image – particularly attractive in the background of the prevailing complicated solutions. A lot of other pavilions for some reason preferred to hide their entrances by placing it in some unusual spot: on a side of the building, behind it, or even by “protecting” it with a maze – which turned the exposition into a challenging quest with long runs that are not always entertaining for the visitor. The Russian pavilion is one of the lucky exceptions – its entrance is not only easy to find but it also becomes the central architectural attraction. The authors underline: the mirror allows for making selfies quite conveniently – and indeed, already on the opening day, despite the unpleasant drizzle, few would walk past it, everyone went onto the wooden platform with interest, threw their heads back, and, yes – took their photos in the giant mirror.
One must say that mirror surfaces are one of the favorite themes of Sergey Choban and SPEECH architects in general. It is enough to recall the NHow hotel in Berlin and the Russian pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015, where the dome – like in a pantheon – reflected itself placing the spectator into the center of the imaginary sphere. Renaissance patios of the Milan University is currently hosting an exposition by Interni magazine, where an installation by Sergey Choban, Sergey Kusnetsov and Agniya Sterligova makes its centerpiece – and it as well is completely glassy, so as to dissolve in the surroundings at times.
The foundation of the soaring, smoothly curved canopy is supported by four large mirror columns inside of a transparent glass tambour: thin joints of the glass slabs make the entrance area of the pavilion completely see-through. The cantilever seems to be lying on the glass. The image is completed by the hatch of the wooden lamellas that visually extend the line of the canopy where it is practically no longer there – on the facades of the volume of the main exposition that, as opposed to the tambour, are made of black glass. The canopy visually rises from the volume and seems even longer because of that – the idea can be best appreciated looking from south-east: the view point that Sergey Choban calls the main one, is located in the way of the main flow of the visitors, so the majority of the spectators will not miss this perspective anyway.
The black volume with the exposition itself is built in the deep of the lot and following its contours spreads eastwards. Its upper part is on all sides finished with wooden lamellas which, according to Sergey Choban’s idea, are supposed to remind the traditional Russian building material. The oval reception stand inside of the glass vestibule is decorated with similar ribs. There is not that much wood however, and it only slightly masks the glass-metal volumes.
SPEECH bureau designed the architecture of the pavilion and the reception stand inside the tambour. The exposition “Growing for the World. Cultivating for the Future” was made by another team. Right after the entrance, in the lobby, the visitors face a painting by Vinogradov-Dubosarsky named “Rye”, then, behind the transparent lobby, it gets dark. The walls in the first hall are covered with pictures of plants from Vavilov’s seed collection, and in the second hall – with Mendeleev’s Table interlaced with scripts about elements valuable for nutrition. The concept of the exposition was based on an idea of a recipe catalog suggested by Yuriy Avakumov, but was later transformed. The book of recipes however was published specially for EXPO. The first hall meets the visitors with a glowing model of a distillation still, the visitors are treated to alcohol-free drinks; in the second hall, they can take part in food tasting; at the back, there is a restaurant. The halls of the first floor are arranged along the perimeter of the technical rooms located in the middle, and all together it reminds a styled letter P. There is a boardroom and a VIP-stanza on the second floor, and the roof, built in a form of a smoothly rising rampart is made green and, according to the architects, will soon be open for the visitors.
Back to the canopy: the mirror surface of its cantolever reflects not only the people taking photographs on the square in front of the pavilion, but also the glass tambour, and, when viewed from afar, it is even misleading: it seems that the lobby with the red letters “RUSSIA” above the entrance extends upwards, curving, growing into the surface of the canopy, there seems to be twice as many people coming in and it forms a kind of a swirl – only in a couple of seconds the illusion is unveiled and you start to understand what is real and what is a reflection. It is also a part of the idea, and unlike many other mirror attractions that are more often hidden inside the pavilions of EXPO, here the plot is brought outside. Architecture has become a significant part of the exposition, besides in a way it summarizes the many years of Russian participation in previous world expositions, calling on the historic pavilions and summing up their methods.
Of course, first of all, I asked Sergey Choban why his project remind Mikhail Posokhin’s Montreal pavilion at EXPO’67 so much – the likeness is obvious, in both cases there is a soaring canopy placed upon a glass volume emphasizing the effect of a levitating roof line. In response the architect suggested me to recollect a wider historical context. According to Choban, the Montreal pavilion is simply the most famous example of a general tendency connecting a whole series of other soviet pavilions at world expositions. In particular, Sergey Choban reminded a project that Konstantin Melnikov drew in 1962 for a world exposition in New York, 1964 (the project remained on paper, the USSR did not take part in the exposition). Opinions concerning the connection between the Montreal pavilion and the unimplemented Melnikov’s project have been already aired (for example, see here).
You can learn more about the the sequence of the Soviet pavilions at world expositions from a recent review made by archspeech website. Part of them really does follow the “up and ahead” urge, like “The Worker and Kolkhoz Woman”; others are more pompous, but also fly to somewhere, maybe into space. The flying theme does not go down to world expositions – the titanium monument of the “To the Conquerors of the Space” is just as energetic.
In other words, the project of Sergey Choban not only continues the line famous due to the Montreal pavilion, but to some extent restores historic justice, returning both to Mikhail Posokhin and to Konstantin Melnikov. It is interesting that Melnikov planned to execute his pavilion “at the end of tether” – and Sergey Choban speaks practically the same words about the canopy built in Milan. The overhang of the cantilever is 98 feet – the maximum possible for such a construction. The rise in the highest point – 55 feet, which is 15 feet more than the height of the main building, subdued to the 40 feet of height restrictions set in the master-plan of the exposition. At that, according to Sergey Choban, the rise of the console could start only outside of the main volume, in the glass vestibule. It gives a feeling that the architect aims to use up this theme completely, develop it up to the limit of technical and emotional possibilities. The pavilion in Milan is more scaled-down than the Montreal one, but its long narrow console flies up more energetically and the mirror adds to the effect giving staginess of the exposition installation to the architectural solution. The impression really is closer to Melnikov’s draft where the console aims towards stars and visually, and symbolically – there is even a cosmic drawing on it, and the project description, in keeping with the best traditions of the 60s, tells about the “hidden power of celestial mechanics”. It reminds both of the first satellite and the passion for the starry sky – zodiac and astrological – of the Renaissance architects, and the scientific, astronomical interest in it of the Empire. And here we probably reach the essence of the plot: Sergey Choban’s mirror console makes us look up at the sky – to see ourselves in it. There is something special in it. But on the other hand what difference does it make, for what reason exactly we looked at the sky – even seldom? Even for the sake of a making a selfie today? The mere fact of us looking up is great!
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.