Within a contest project of the Creative Union “Reserve” the gold for victories is almost literally represented – it turns into a shiny ingot enclosed into orderly grate of bright stone. It is however just one of the many themes that the architecture of the building contains.
Written by: Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
At the end of July, the Creative Union “Reserve” was declared winner of the contest on the concept of the new Russian Olympic Committee building. Seven workshops took part in the contest (see projects of other participants here).
The new building is planned to be built in place of the old one, constructed for the 1980 Olympics – its low-rise block is now stretched along Novoluzhnetskiy proyezd, from the flyover of the Komsomolsky avenue towards the river. The new ROC building will take up the whole rectangular lot but will be taller than its predecessor: ten floors instead of four, the total area of 860 000 square feet. The building is planned to be paid for by an investor who will obtain half of the working premises, that is why it has been logically divided into two parts, which has determined at least two distinctive features. First – its plan: the Committee prefers a corridor-office-type arrangement, so according to the design assignment the architects have divided the spaces into rather spacious rooms – 193 sq. ft. each; and the plan of investor’s area has been inspired by the popular “open space”. Yet the design assignment required the committee and the investor’s blocks “equal but separate”, on the one hand, and on the other – combined in “a single building with a common space”. Having justly estimated the task as contradictive (see author’s description), the architects, however, fulfilled it quite successfully.
Both blocks are inscribed into the contours of a simple figure, close to a parallelepiped, and are divided with a spacious yard area, the wide funnel-shaped golden opening of which faces the Moskva river and the MSU high-rise on Sparrow Hills – the authors have thoroughly designed the asymmetrically slanted walls to achieve the best possible panorama. The yard both divides and unites the blocks, and coherence and unity of the volume altogether are emphasized by the grid signboard-roof: five rings built in its surface will light up at night.
The module of the thin white net of the facades is expressly simple: the checks on the end walls are square, and vertically split in half on the longtitudinal walls – the result is rather fractionary, but even and calm, as a tribute to classical modernism and hence – to the memory of the old building. Strangely enough, the clear floor by floor check looks fresh in its simplicity: in recent years it has become popular in Moscow to hide the sizes of the buildings combining two or three floors in one, but here it is unexpectedly straight forward, like a notebook sheet. Although there is still one optical trick: the vertical division of checks in two parts makes our eyes see as if there are twice as many module pitches, and that the “parallelepiped” of the building is longer and thinner than it really is.
All of this together forms a simple and airy image with several ideas. The first one is easy and clear to make out: we see an ingot of Olympic gold enclosed in a structured material of white facades like an amethyst cluster inside a lime stone carcass. Simple and practical from the outside, and intriguingly shining inside, revealing the preciousness of the content. The grate of the facades can be seen as a visual expression of the administrative work of the committee: papers, offices, accounting, a routine but strictly organized process. The golden yard cut out in the checked volume reflects its essence and the goal alluding to the winners’ victories. It should be, however, mentioned that it would not be Vladimir Plotkin, if the gold of the yard looked like a melted ingot – its shine is composed of separate lamellas beaded on the vertical axes and turned like figuratively drawn medal-flags at different angles. In close-up it forms a tridimensional hatch, a pictural image of plastic gold: light, glitter and shades; and from afar, for example if you look through binoculars from the View point, it will fuse into a golden cave. But the building is meant to be transparent, permeable, with practically no weight; like a complex but rationally planned dimentional drawing – this structural lightness, that makes the building look almost like molecular structure with scarce inclusions of mass, is one of Vladimir Plotkin’s signature characteristics.
The second theme is contextual. Looking forward along Novoluzhnetskiy proyezd one can see the high-rise of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences constructed by Yuriy Platonov in the 70s: a white tower with a golden top, clearly noticeable in the landscape. The building of ROC in the project of Vladimir Plotkin echoes to the Academy, enters into a dialog creating, according to the authors’ words, “a golden massif of similar sizes”, in a way, however, alternative – a horizontal instead of a vertical, a cavity instead of a volume. A longitudinal, reasonable architectural axis has appeared between the buildings – and the distance between them is a long one.
And finally the triangular yard between the blocks not only plays a role of a spectacular frame for viewing the Sparrow Hills, but also creates another perpendicular axis, parallel to the Komsomolsky avenue: a narrow gorge formed by the funnel-shaped yard on the North-East will become a passway towards the territory that will soon become a new construction site in the place of the Institute of Helium – so the new district will gain access to the Luzhniki Stadium.
“The Golden Square” is to become a public urban space: the authors have planned to place shops and cafes on the ground floor. More than that, appealing to the open, uniting role of the Olympic movement itself, the architects have suggested connecting the two blocks with a “footpath” made up of a line of rampants: it runs along the street façade on the ground floor of the investor’s part, turns right, crosses the yard and gradually rising continues along the ROC facades on the first floor level and winds up as a small platform – a kind of viewing point facing the Luzhniki Stadium. The footpath is the author’s plot addition, it can become a way for a tour devoted to the committee activity.
The viewing platform on the end façade is echoed by the golden exedra – a setback as a pendant to a projection, it emphasizes once again that any cut-out from the grate volume reveals a golden filling. The North-West façade – is the second main one. It is the nearest entrance to a subway station and it leads into the ROC meeting room. It is also a place where light accents and elegant details have been collected: the platform, the exedra and four thin rainbow-colored columns. It means that the best view of the building – from the Komsomolsky avenue and Novoluzhnetskiy proyezd – allows to see the two main facades in one time.
On the inside, the blocks are filled with atriums – however, it has not yet been decided whether they should be glazed or stay open. The central part of the ROC block is occupied by a large congress hall – its roof is planned to be all green with a large inner yard placed on it; a rhombic atrium is arranged behind the stage, and then comes a triangular one with lifts. The multilayered space with multiple scales is filled with hanging bridges; on the other hand, the atrium of the investor’s part is furnished with a wide entrance lobby facing the “Golden Square” and a stairs – not exactly spiral but it does turn twisting the yard around itself. The atriums of the blocks, same as the laconic grate of the facades, remind of the old ROC building: a simple parallelepiped with two square yards – and consequently build up another level of meanings, putting the building not only into the architectural, but also into the historical context. However, if we compare idea of “Reserve” with the plain ordered yards of the older building it will become clear, that even though modern architecture has inherited the inevitable atriums from the 70s modernism, the direction of the interior plastic has become much more complex, emotional and flexible. This inner spatial layer of the project is filled with architectural scenography, starting from the excursion path up to the clerks path in the multilayer yards. In contrast with the graphic facades and picturesque gold, it is plastic and nimble: for someone moving around the inner area of the blocks with their bridges, stairs and voids inside - here vertical and there spacious, alternating all kinds of angles – it must seem dynamic and theatrical.
Yet the described layering of architectural ideas and impressions is supposed to be implemented by modest means. “Realizing the economic difficulties of our time we have scrutinized the topic of imports phase-out, - sais Vladimir Plotkin, - in particular, we have found a number of Russian manufacturers of stone that could be suitable for façade cladding”.
As a result, the project fits the context exactly, and this most globally speaking: from the economic context, with consideration of the crisis, to historic and urban contexts, appealing to the former ROC building of the 70s, to the Presidium of Yuriy Platonov’s Academy, and up to the very main context, more specifically – the building’s office function: the Olympic movement is reminded by the almost tangible gold of victories hanging like flags in front of the entrance; but there are some more abstract allusions, such as the public, uniting, peace-bringing role of the movement. The main “golden” Olympic theme – tricky in itself by its obviousness – has been brought to the edge plastic purity and lightness where its clarity is not frightening, but joyous, and the whole building becomes its own signboard when you look at it from afar. If the construction is successful, then in a couple of years standing on the viewing point one could say: there is the Academy, and here, on the right from the Big Sporting Arena, shines the Olympic Committee. It could be a nice company.
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
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.
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“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
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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
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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
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...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
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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.
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.