In today's Russian town planning, there is hardly a more controversial notion than that of the "spirit of old Moscow". Whether this "spirit" actually exists or not, where to look for it, whether it is possible to keep it alive, whether it is worth restoring at all, "who is to blame", and "what to do" - all these eternal questions get different answers from the architects and municipality officials, from the journalists and the active citizens, from the Muscovites and visitors of the city - few people remain indifferent. The leaders of "Arch Group" Mikhail Krymov and Aleksey Goryainov are, of course, no exception. Aleksey Goryainov is absolutely positive that no genius loci (in the classic sense of the term) has been left in Moscow for years now, and it is not worth it deluding oneself; Mikhail Krymov is less categoric - "true, there are still a couple of nice little streets at the "Kitay-Gorod" area - but when answering the main question "what to do" they, just as co-authors should be, unanimous: "In Moscow's historical center we must build noninvasive projects but do this by modern means and make them speak the modern language".
This is why when the architects were offered to take part in the closed contest for the reconstruction of a historical building in the vicinity of the Petrovsky Boulevard, they perceived this task, among other things, as an opportunity to express their moral position. Besides, reconstruction is generally their "cup of tea" - the do a lot of successful and interesting rebuilding. Although, most often it is about renovating production facilities or office buildings that are as such of neither architectural nor cultural value. Here, however, the picture is quite different. The contest project - the two-story house with a courtyard in the neighborhood of the Petrovsky Boulevard - has long since been in a pre-emergency condition. It has been many times rebuilt and built over, so reconstructing it truly to the original is hardly realistic. But then again, if there had been such a task, Aleksey Goryainov and Mikhail Krymov would never have undertaken to do it: scientific restoration is not their thing. However, the idea initially announced by the customer sounded very attractive: in the environment of the historical buildings (with Despre wine cellars nearby and the house where Sophia Kovalevskaya was born), they were to build something modern but at the same time respecting the existing context. The task controversial and exciting. It is a time-proven rule that you cannot create something old anew: you will get yet another "still-born" simulacrum, one of those that the leaders of "Arch Group" derisively call "zombie" or "mutants". But been something old and irretrievably lost can be remembered and revoked from the nonexistence - recreated not literally but graphically and transparently. And, probably, the best material for such "materialization of ideas" is glass - a material that is creatively active, abstract, multi -option, and at the same time impeccably modern.
Thus, the main story that defined both the visual imagery and the cultural message of the project got represented by the original (seriously, this solution does not seen to have any parallels in the Russian architecture as yet) double facade. On both sides of the building, in front of the existing facade (it is planned that it will also be renovated but without the historical "immersion" - the architects simply will bring to order what is already there), a glass screen will appear. Upon this screen, the architects propose to apply the images of the monuments of architecture destroyed over the last several decades - a conceptual masterstroke that has no chances of being read by the general public but one that is pleasing to the authors. Besides, it is not just any flat images that would go onto the facade: the architects planned to select the photos of the buildings that would fit the project from the stylistic standpoint and with their graphic parameters, find the original drawings, make 3D models, render them realistically and then emboss into the glass. Meaning - they still got down to the restoration work, though virtual, but still raised to high art. "It a rather laconic but still an honest story" - says Mikhail Krymov.
We will add at this point: pretty expensive (which is normal for the unconventional high-quality architecture) and difficult to implement and operate. Still, however, according to Aleksey Goryainov, they generally like to choose the road less travelled: "Our projects have never been noted for directness or simplicity but we are not in the least intimidated by that - we are capable of handling the challenging tasks". The planar frameless facade is mounted on the spider fittings, the ages are embossed between two layers of glass, and that means that it will not get dirty or fade away with time; as for the problem of caring for the inside of the screen, the authors propose to solve it rather radically: create an airtight contour along the perimeter so that the dust and dirt could not physically get in. At the same time, the system of the second facade has an indisputable advantage: it regulates the temperature drop, and provides protection from the noise, the dust, and the wind. As far as the visual effect is concerned, it is well worth it. The openwork semitransparent pattern subtly interacts with the curves of the original inner facade (the window frames and the cornices are not much to look at but they are still there); the third constituent part of the picture, as is always the case with the glass surfaces, being the very surroundings, the sky, the sun, and the clouds. It is one picture by day and another by night: the backlit background becomes "the main hero", the pattern of the glass screen does not disappear altogether but become takes on an even more ghost-like quality.
According to the architectural and planning solution, the first floor of the building will be occupied by cafés and shops, and the second - by apartments (in addition to the existing ones, the authors propose to make extra windows); besides, there will be yet another top floor with two-level apartments in it. As for the mansards, the authors say that their relationship with them is complicated - they downright dislike the jagged roof silhouette that is typical for such buildings. So, setting the task of doing away with the "mansard quality", the architects found an elegant solution that consists in dissecting the usual gable roof with the intercepts of terraces. Thanks to this, when viewed from the street, the top floor takes on a "rhythmic" quality, at the same time luckily avoiding falling into different segments because of the noise and dust protecting glass screen that holds it all together. And the plants that will be there on the terraces will enrich the visual image of the house even more.
The closed yard of the house is, though shallow, still a courtyard; because of that, in order to avoid making the future inhabitants look into each other's windows, the architects run along the perimeter of the second floor a warm glazed gallery, from which, after exiting the elevator , one can ultimately access the apartments' doors. This move aimed at embellishing the vertical surfaces, is echoed by the same-kind terraces of the mansard apartments plus the glass blocks connected to them. This solution allows for the architects to solve the problem of the gable ceilings overhanging at the second level of the apartments. As for the inner courtyard itself, the architects turn it into a cozy recreation area with lawns, trees, and terraces on wooden floors. Thanks to the broad arch (according to the project, the pedestrian entrance is situated next to the ramp that leads to the underground garage) the yard is viewable from the street - a nice little detail that adds to the image of the house a feeling a cozy and yet contemporary living environment.
Selecting the name for their project, Aleksey Goryainov and Mikhail Krymov opted for "Architectural Spiritism". Well, such reincarnation of the "spirit of old Moscow" has quite the right to exist.
Agility of the Modular
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
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.