Eugene Gerasimov continues his "Italian series" on Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Island. Following the "Venice" house, the construction of "Verona" started that combines the features of a country residence and a city palace of the Renaissance epoch.
Written by: Lilya Aronova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
It is common knowledge that, until the late XIX century, the Krestovsky Island was considered the place where the lower classes came to have a rest, these swamps being unattractive for the more sophisticated people. Today, the people of Saint Petersburg take this fact as a historical anecdote: today, the island is getting overbuilt with residential complexes of premium class, the price of square meter in them being one of the highest in the city. Eugene Gerasimov is the pioneer of this process - his complex "Green Garden" was put into operation in the year of 2000, and, during the next decade, his studio implemented a number of other brilliant projects on this island. Today, the process of building the high-profile real property at the "green gem of Saint Petersburg" has slowed down a bit, there are almost no suitable land plots left anymore, so "Verona" designed by Eugene Gerasimov (its construction is now beginning on the Morskoy Avenue) has every chance of becoming the last new elite-class residential complexes to be built here, thus beautifully closing the historical circle.
The complex will be built at Morskoy Avenue 29, in the place of the recently-demolished constructivist building that consisted in fact of twelve units of the Krestovsky residential area. The land plot is handled by the corporation "Revival of Saint Petersburg" that, capitalizing on the success of the recently built neighboring "Venice", has continued the cooperation with the bureau "Eugene Gerasimov and Partners". This is not the only sign of the continuity: as the stylistic centerpiece, the architects again chose the image of Italian Renaissance palazzo, and, in their search of the selling name they did not even cross the border of the Veneto region - the future house got the name of "Verona". Incidentally, this complex will become a third "palazzo" in Eugene Gerasimov's portfolio: the first and the most high-profile one is the project of a hotel at the Ostrovsky Square, next to the "Alexandrinka". This is quite a natural archetype for Saint Petersburg, a city whose connection with the Italian architecture hardly needs any proof.
So, what is a Renaissance palazzo all about, or, in this particular case, its Roman variety? First of all, it is about a closed perimeter whose facades are notable for their austerity and laconism, while the main human activity is concentrated in the courtyard. From today's standpoint, such stuffiness would have probably felt inconvenient in the close-knit array of the houses adjoining to one another but, surrounded by the large and small parks of the Krestovsky Island - 60% of it is woodland - this separately standing building looks a bit different, pretty much like the outpost of the city. This effect is also strengthened by the design solution of the facade opened to the island's main thoroughfare - the Morskoy Avenue. The clearly expressed hierarchy of the main facade versus the side ones, built with the help of the classic architectural lexicon, is enhanced by the choice of the materials, so expressive that it alone would have sufficed to show who is the boss here. The Morskoy Avenue facade is completely coated with opaque light-beige plaster, while the sides of the building, on the other hand, are decorated with rather dull decoration bricks, only inheriting from the main façade's grandeur the exquisite (and at times not really exquisite) numerous details: the window casing moulds, the frontons, and the floor-to-floor pull rods. The combination of the red-brown brick and the light-colored natural stone again refers us to the epoch of the Italian Renaissance - in particular, to the belfry of the Venetian church San Giorgio in Maggiore, the one that Eugene himself names as his source of inspiration for this project.
This is here that some interesting nuances begin. The building, particularly when viewed from a distance, looks not so much as a belfry as the whole San Giorgio: a quick glance catches the magnitude, the contrast of brick and stone, as well as the large portico whose fluted Corinthian semi-columns unite four floors. When viewed from afar, it produces quite a Venetian, even Palladian, impression - it is this feeling that the light-colored stone façades of Andrea Palladio create being applied to the stone giants of those churches. But then again, not only its façades produce this impression: the representative plastic applied to the massive brick volume waiting for its hour, almost undecorated or but partially decorated, is the frequent impression that the Italian churches produce. And not only churches - a similar combination of some slightly inert brick and some ostentatiously organized stone i.e. subjected to some specific architectural order, is to be often encountered in the city gates that were "applied" in the XVI century to the earlier-built brick city walls. If, following the realtors' selling name, we are to take a look at Verona, we will find in it two similar gates built by Palladio's contemporary Michele San Michele.
So, the effect of a Renaissance facade applied to the building, is captured rather accurately here. Later on, however, we notice that the proportions are significantly stretched here, the frieze between the capitals and the fronton has grown to the size of a whole floor, and the rock face basement floor consists in fact of two levels. The space between the columns got a semicircular "thermal window", the sign of architecture of the times of Napoleon wars and of even later days, while the gusts of the columns are fluted, which we will not find in Palladio's architecture, this also being a feature of a later architecture, on the one side, still more oriented on the antique examples, and, on the other hand, "burdened" by the new scale and magnitude... Further on, we notice that the façade has in it yet another theme, namely, that of Saint Petersburg, given to it by the "flattened" background - it is through this very theme that the portico grows forward. The rock-face that unites the third and fourth floors is not of the Renaissance type, but rather, of the local Saint Petersburg kind; it looks more reminiscent of the "Twelve Collegia" building (correction: this does not make it any less Italian because "Twelve Collegia" was built by Trezzini, an Italian architect). Higher up, the flat pilasters unite not four but three floors, thus missing a beat and highlighting the mutual shift of the basis and the center. And, finally, the small entrance stanza, framed by the close-knit array of columns of the Tuscan order, definitely reminds us of the northern Saint Petersburg Art Nouveau: at this point we notice that the vertical composition of triple windows built on top of it belongs to the Silver Age alone, while the empire thermal window was probably inspired by the passéisme of the early XX century. This is a tribute to the context: maybe not the best, not the kind that there is at the Kamenny Island, but a few samples of Art Nouveau are still to be found here on the Krestovsky Island. So the façade is pretty sophisticated - at least three themes are superimposed on one another both geometrically and in space; on the periphery of one's mind, there is also a lurking thought of the Celsus Library, and the shadow of the Stalin architecture, the almost inevitable companion of any Russian experiments with the classics, is also persistently there, although it is not really strong in this project - for the exception of some influences of Mussolini experiments that one can discern on the side facades, still softened by the "medieval" mullioned windows.
The house also got a not really important but a very curious town-planning role. The buildings of the Krestovsky Island that surround it, are predominantly of the "Moscow style" type, spaced out rather freely and at some places even haphazardly. The two houses designed by Eugene Gerasimov - "Venice" and "Verona" - look quite aristocratic among these no-ceremony things. "We deliberately placed the main facade parallel to the thoroughfare's red line: thanks to this solution, the building turned into a small "quarter" building that enhances the planning structure of this area" - explains the chief architect of the project Oleg Kaverin. Indeed, both houses "hold the line", one of the avenue, the other of the embankment, and signify the lines of the streets. It is really a treat to watch just how uptight these two houses are while all the others are just taking a stroll. Besides, in spite of the earlier mentioned presence of several conceptual and plastic layers, both houses are notable for the palpable cohesiveness of their composition and graceful and certain proportions - this is a whole new level of treating the traditions of classical architecture. The two houses rhyme and echo one another, and even look like the "agents of influence" of the urban culture of the new type in the "country-club" atmosphere of the elite Krestovsky Island.
It is planned that the inside yard will be tile-paved and places will be found for the lawn and the small architectural forms; the yard facades will be decorated with large slabs of ceramic granite of the same light-beige tone as the coating stone of the main facade. The theme of the Italian classics will be supported by the decoration of the entrance lobby: the architects plan to install here the same kind of columns as near the entrance on the outside - they will highlight the direction of the building's main axis. The color palette will be reigned by the exquisite tone of the light plaster (all the floors and walls are exclusively decorated with natural stone).
Eugene Gerasimov is an exceptionally versatile architect. He is not really comfortable within the rigid limits of one specific style, and he has equal interest for today's architecture, and for the new interpretation of the classic traditions. As far as architectural historicism is concerned, Eugene Gerasimov's attitude to it is respectful but not doting: "The time of joking around on the historical subjects is gone" - he says. The clear-cut and laconic project of the building on the Morskoy Avenue is a great example of the modern interpretation of the classical tradition. With no hidden irony, quite serious.
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.