Designed by Sergey Oreshkin, the terminals of Saint Petersburg's passenger port live up to their status of the city's "sea façade". And, while from the city side the guests are met by the facades that are dynamic, "soaring", and hi-tech, the passengers of the cruising liners are met be the port's artistically elaborate roofs.
Written by: Lilya Aronova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The architectural bureau "A.Len" was building the Sea Passenger Port in the Neva Bay for seven years: the design work started back in 2004, and it was in 2011 that the last terminal was handed over to the city and launched into operation. Each of the four terminals was launched once in a year or a year and a half, the designing was done parallel to the construction work and was accompanied by the inevitable consultations from experts in different fields, so, according to Sergey Oreshkin, the architects neither had to work on a balls-to-the-wall schedule nor felt any particular pressure of extra responsibility. Nevertheless, the end result of this work is nothing more nor less than building and subsequent putting into operation one of the largest in Europe, according to the official reports, cruising ports.
Of course, cruise liners would come to Saint Petersburg before. Entering Neva's estuary, they would moor practically in the city's center, at Morskoy Vokzal: the tourists would get the city's sights within a walking distance, and the city people would get the sight of magnificent liners. The border control and the customs services, however, for this same reason, would run into heaps of difficulties, down to the sheer impossibility of normal work. Furthermore, the Morskoy Vokzal was incapable of accepting ships over 200 meters long, and they had to be forwarded to the commercial sea port that is totally unfit for these purposes.
The decision (made in 2005) to build a dedicated passenger port named "Sea Façade" - also on the Vasilyevsky Island, only more to the west - turned out to be the optimum solution that satisfied all the parties. Furthermore, this port was to become a part of a grand-scale strategic project of developing the city that provides for forming more than 476 hectares of new raised beaches, construction of new residential areas, a university, and a new metro station. The seven terminals of "Sea Façade" are capable of taking in cruising liners and ferries up to 330 meters long. The first vessel moored here in 2008; now the port is working to capacity.
Today, the architecture of cruising terminals is a genre as hot and intriguing as designing airports. In Shanghai, Taiwan, Sidney, and Cartagena, the passenger terminals are designed by world-class architects, win professional awards, and get extensive coverage in the industry media. Thus, over the years, considerable experience has been accumulated in this field, both from the architectural and from the purely technological standpoint. As Sergey Oreshkin shares, "A.Len" got this job after the company, almost on a gratis basis, conducted a few consultations with the experts on the technologies of cruising port construction in Europe and the USA (the company actually also contributed to preparing the technical specifications to the project but that's a different story). And, by the way, "A.Len" agreed to take the job subject to the condition that the appropriate experts must be included into the team: the scientific part was done by an American company, while the chief technologist came from Finland.
Sergey Oreshkin's original project is significantly different from what ultimately got implemented. When the whole story was just beginning ten years ago, the architectural world's hottest thing was the "rolling" or "band" architecture - when a building, like New York's museum of Eyebeam built upon the project of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, or the HQ of Vacheron Constantin designed by Bernard Tschumi in Geneva, looks as if it was casually rolled up from a giant band - flexible but at the same time capable of holding the shape that the architects intended it to have. Similarly, Sergey Oreshkin came up with a building looking like a "bolt of tarpaper" sliced, like a loaf of bread, into individual terminals and also bringing up associations with a tidal wave. True, the idea is dramatic and expressive but, regretfully, Tschumi's "deconstruction" principles that are all about separating the form from the content do not really go well together with the real-life practice of building transport facilities, at least, in this country. If we are to draw more parallels with the world's top projects, then we must admit that the "airport - railway station - sea port" typology in its classic form is more about Santiago Calatrava with his laid-bare, sometimes even skeleton-like structures or Richard Rogers and other pioneers of architectural hi-tech that consistently accentuated the aesthetics of the functionality of their projects. Furthermore, apart from being different from its archetype, the original "A.Len" proposal was fraught with serious difficulties in servicing the roof, particularly in the wintertime. And so it turned out that the "bolt of tarpaper" turned into a "modular object with dramatically expressed techno design" - Sergey Oreshkin shares.
All the four terminals - three cruising ones and one for ferries connected by common above-ground galleries - have a single architectural and engineering solution and are only different in their size: the three-story ferry terminal separates the pedestrian and the automotive flows, the length of the cruising ones being defined by the number of the quays that they serve. Essentially, these are pavilions designed to quickly carry aboard huge numbers of people - within a 30-minute span, under the guidance of tourist agents, about two thousand people can board the ships. The functionality is accentuated by the laconic architectural style. Just like in the "textbook" case of Pompidou Center designed by Renzo Piano and the works by already-mentioned Richard Rogers, the multiple rod construction is carried over to the outside and accentuated. The panoramic glazing of the front and most of the side facades dissected by the grid of the metallic framework makes the inside bearing columns plainly viewable. The bases of the rectangular tetrahedron of the metallic rods that support the marquee above the entrance also support the overhanging awning of the roof. All this put together forms a complex geometric pattern that goes a long way to bring out the best in the building's dynamics that grows half again as high from the back façade to the front one, if we are to consider the marquee. Alternating with the monumental prismatic pilasters, the portals of the pullout doors are limited on top by a cornice of a complex profile, broken down into individual fragments and bringing up associations with an airplane wing.
While from the sea side the height of the pavilions is made as low as possible - standing up to the sheer bulk of the sea giants is not realistic anyway - the facades turned to the city look as if they are three or even four stories high, even though in actuality their inside space remains double-height. For all its effectiveness and quite a few practical benefits (decreasing the wind load, to name but one), this solution brought a lot of challenges to the architects: the premises in the center of the terminal turned out to be too high in fact, they lacked the necessary amount of light, and, in order to let the sunlight in, the architects had to provide for special "sun tubes" in the roof. As is often the case in this life, the architects were really able to make a virtue out of necessity: just like all the other construction elements, these "tubes" are also fitted with LED's - in the evening, the purple and green lights sparkle not only on the facades but also on the roofs of the terminals.
The roofs of the terminals are a whole separate story and a special creative project in themselves. Due to the fact that the main decks of the ships that come into the port are in fact situated significantly higher than the rooftop level, the "A.Len" architects wanted the terminals' "fifth façade" stand up to meeting the guests of the city. They considered these questions still while they were designing the water park in "Pribaltiyskaya" Hotel where the park was designed with consideration to the views from the hotel rooms. Similarly, on the roofs of the ferry and cruising terminals, the sun tubes, the air ducts, and all the technical contents assembled into blocks - all of this, at the architects' will, makes a magnificent graphic picture sparkling with multicolored lights in the nighttime and pleasing the eye with its harmonious pattern by daylight. The chief engineer Alexander Weiner considers these "artistic" roofs to be the main "distinctive feature" of this project, and we cannot but agree with him.
A cruising terminal is a very special building: it has nothing more nor less than a state border running through it. A similar principle is applied in the construction of international airports - they also have in them the state and the extraterritorial areas separated by the line of the customs and the state border control. Hence the inside architecture of the pavilions: the huge open spaces (in the case of cruising terminals, with as few shopping and entertainment premises as possible - the passengers are not supposed to stay here for long), galleries, stairways, and overpasses.
Designing the interiors of the pavilions in the same key of techno design, Sergey Oreshkin could not, of course, overlook the naval theme altogether. The associations that we see here, though, are pretty complex and not of the face-value type: while in the massive "pencil" columns one can still see the features of the ship's chimneys, the rounded surfaces of the color of noble wood that are to be seen on the façade, and on the marquees are but a subtle hint at ships' lines; as for the fact that the designed of the latticed openings was inspired by the image of a boat's bottom - this can only be figured out with Sergey giving you the clue. The architect, incidentally, reminded us that a similar technique was used by Nicolas Grimshaw when the latter designed the new terminal of Pulkovo Airport: in the folded-plate structure of the vaults one can see both the proverbial golden domes of the Orthodox churches, and the boats sailing the Baltic Sea. And, as for high-tech, it is really abundant and quite unambiguous in all the terminals of "Sea Façade": it is all about metal (or, rather, its imitation), and industrial-shape lights, and stairways and galleries of glass and steel that dissect this huge airy space. Even the benches here sport a maximally ergonomic and industrial look.
Besides the four terminals, "A.Len" bureau built in the passenger port a few auxiliary buildings: the management center of the port (also rather stylish and modernist with horizontal windows - Sergey Oreshkin comments), and automotive checkpoint and bus stops. The work goes on even now: new you duty-free shops are being completed, and the architects are considering building a new fitness center. Besides - a rare case - according to Alexander Weiner, the management company has drawn up with "A.Len" a ten-year contract on technical supervision and operation of the terminals. This is important because it is all about the raised beaches, although the buildings of the terminals rest upon pales and there is little risk of serious sagging. So, "A.Len" is not letting go of "Sea Façade".
Sergey Oreshkin is quite modest in his evaluating the terminal: nothing out of the ordinary, four objects 10 000 square meters each, a magnitude comparable to a regular residential building - but some certain pride for the implemented project, of course, is felt in his words. The recognition of his colleagues was also quick to come, as they were launched into operation, each terminal was winning these or those industry awards. Now the architects have a pleasant opportunity to admire their work from a close range - from the side of their yet another object under construction: on the first line of the raised land, "A.Len" is building the residential area under the poetic name of "Me, Romantic". The windows of the apartments will command a magnificent view of the passenger port terminals, quite small against the background of the steel ships but still plainly visible by day and night.
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.
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.