Not far from Shukhov Tower, amid the already built new housing estates, the Sky House Towers – covered partly with transparent and partly with vivid autumn-colored pixel skin – has reached its final stage of construction.
Written by: Alla Pavlikova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The area north of Shukhov Tower and the working-class districts surrounding it has recently been significantly expanded with new large housing estates. In mid-2000’s, at Shabolovka Street 23, the architects of “Ostozhenka” built five towers of “Capital-1 Constellation”. About the same time, construction of “English Quarter” upon the project of Mikhail Belov was finished further east, on Mytnaya Street. The area where the construction of a multi-functional (but mostly residential) Sky House complex is now reaching completion is situated between two housing estates, on the right side of Mytnaya Street. The houses are erected in place of several buildings of “Red Proletarian” factory (half-ruined by that time), around “Trud” Stadium – once part of the factory. So it is also an example of reorganization of an industrial zone. By early 2000s the stadium had been fully neglected, covered with weeds and with an aboveground heating duct lying across the field.
The work on designing started more than ten years ago, in 2003 and the stadium was not planned for preserving then. Having an opportunity to use the whole site the architects have suggested connecting low-rise houses (up to 9 floors) into a closed composition, akin to a Roman arena built along the perimeter of the inner courtyard. In order to compensate for the football ground the architects proposed to create a sporting cluster inside the stylobate, with a mini-football field, fitness-club, universal gym and a pool. Besides, offices were included into the housing estate – an innovational idea for that time that became widely popular in Moscow only later.
The project was welcomed both by the client, and the city. But after some time, the city government decided to save “Trud”, one of the oldest Moscow stadiums, to modernize it and make it a training football field. Surely, the whole project had to be completely reviewed – within other limits, sizes and sites. Having lost a considerable part of the construction site, the estate has immediately grown vertically – from nine to almost thirteen floors – and shifted deeper into the site. One of the architects – Valeriy Kanyashin – says that first the authors wanted to restore the building line with eliminating the “bay” of the stadium by construction of a low-rise office building along the frontage line. Later on, when the architects got into the spirit of the local history, they decided that the city has gotten used to this court of honor with a small park behind an old pre-war fence. To build a house here means to deprive the place of its history. As a result, the park has been preserved together with the stadium and the fence – renovated. The office center has been attached to the high residential towers of the complex at the back of the site.
And it was the stadium with its grandstands that became the core of the final composition of the complex; it has become a bit smaller and is surrounded with buildings of varying heights. The long office center – rising higher as it approaches the tower buildings – is situated deep in the site, along its extended border. Four residential towers are densely composed in the northern part of the lot, taking up only about a hectare – a third of the territory. The similar towers, trapezoidal in plan, are placed evenly but broadly on the stylobate, whose “horseshoe” form opens towards Mytnaya Street. Yet months of work lie beyond the seemingly unobtrusive lightness of this picturesque arrangement. Valeriy Kanyashin explains that besides the challenges connected with providing comfortable insolation on a rather limited lot the architects had to consider all possible scenery spots, even the most distant ones. For instance, from a view on Vavilova Street, located rather far from Mytnaya, the towers were not supposed to screen the domes of Donskoy Monastery. And this is only one example. The authors turned the towers around, moved them, changed places, made them lower or higher. The final version satisfied everyone, including the future residents, since the visual deficiency in “air” and open spaces outside is not felt inside the apartments. The discovered configuration of houses and masterful planning of apartments provide the residents with views of the city. You can hardly see the neighboring buildings out of the windows.
Despite the fact that in its foundation the complex steps back from the frontage line of the street, the tower tops fix this line anyway, forming a corridor of façade walls. The bend of the massive houses turning towards Mytnaya Street and reminding pillars of some gigantic bridge, reveals the authors’ wish to restore the city-planning justice. Of course, they had to preserve history and delicately step away. Such approach is typical for “Ostozhenka”. But we must not forget their skill of working with context, their fine sense of the city and ability to find the right architectural solutions. The slanting waving “flags” of the tower tops create a special intensity during movement along the street. The “cesure” of the stadium is not that obvious in the perspective.
Having found the best composition choice, the architects of “Ostozhenka” decided to fill the estate with contrasting vivid colors, despite the sizes of it. It should be mentioned that in the original version the houses were designed in cool coloring with prevailing grey and blue tones, quite suited for its realtor name Sky House. But in the end, the rich, colorful “fall” palette replaced the sky colors. It is the sandy ochre, burgundy brown and black pixels of tinted glass. This solution, according to Valeriy Kanyashin, comes from the impossibility to unite the whole diverse street development in one architectural concept. The contradictory proximity of intact old houses and the new ones – among those the early complex of “Ostozhenka” and “English Quarter” of Mikhail Belov and the panel housing of “P-44” – did not allow to follow one design and not come into collision with the others. “So we decided not to look back on what stands around, and not to repeat anything. A new complex is a contrastive gesture. The towers look too high and outstanding anyway, we could not hide them because we made them completely different altogether”, – says Valeriy Kanyashin.
Nevertheless, the vertically-oriented pixel mosaic of the facades fits in the environment in its way, and reacts to it conceiving the city landscape from the point of view of a pointillist painting: the warm red and yellow panels crowd together closer to the neighboring houses and become rarer at the top, towards the sky. When the sun comes out and the sky is reflected in the glass, this attempt of the large towers to dissolve will become more convincing – although we know that it is impossible to camouflage such volumes completely with any visual effects. But besides dissolving, the pixel coloring serves for another purpose – it fully confuses the rhythm of the windows, and so turning the house into a sculptural volume from a rational checked block. The architects of “Ostozhenka” already have some experience with such artistic camouflaging: think of the housing complex “Vesna” on Kievskoye Highway, or even better the residential complex “Panorama” in Presnenskiy District – all made of complicate patchwork of differently toned glass reflecting and dividing the city views. There is a different history here – the houses are sooner variegated than united and the glass is unevenly transparent which adds tinges to the impressionist picture: it is one view in the morning and another in the evening. The architect as project manager of all the three complexes is Valeriy Kanyashin which leads to certain conclusions about the development of his style. Today, a pixel coloring is nothing new – and due to the house building company it is even getting boring – but think of the fact that this housing estate was started long ago, and looks fresh even now, as if cut out of some colorful latticed aluminum material.
The history of the project is a history of overcoming: the changing terms, requirements of the city and the clients that also kept changing – the project was started by “Capital Group” company and ended by MCG; the rejection of the sizes and colors by the citizens, the authors’ doubts and constant search of compromise. The design works and implementation were not done by “Ostozhenka”, but by “Mosproject”, although the authors tried to keep the task in sight. Despite all the challenges of the long process, the complex designed fifteen years ago meets all requirements of today. Maybe only apartments are much larger than today’s standard. The complex thoughtfully includes public functions and high-quality development of the adjacent area with a small park where cars can drive into only for passenger drop-off. In one of the towers there is a kindergarten connected by a bridge and a stylobate. There are playgrounds and sports areas on the green roof of the stylobate, inside it – there is a pool with a 25-meter bowl, a large multifunctional gym, shooting galleries, hobby groups, a mini-hotel, café, restaurant and shops. In a word – everything that ensures a comfortable life even inside a dense urbanized environment.
Dynamics of the Avenue
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Steamer at the Pier
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The Magic of Rhythm or Ornament as a Theme
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Walking on Water
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“Architectural Archaeology of the Narkomfin Building”: the Recap
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LIFE on the Setun River
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Clouds over the Railroad
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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”
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The Starting Point
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The Path to New Ornamentation
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Renovation: the Far East Style
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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
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...The Other Was Just Railroad Gin*
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Lions on Glass
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Park of Sentiments
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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