Sergey Skuratov has suggested Kazan an architectural concept of a residential district that is not only filled with multiple cultural meanings and provided with public functions, but also suited for panel construction.
Written by: Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
“Euroquarter” or the M-8 micro district forms a part of a residential district “Sky Seven” – one of the ambitious projects of a large Tatarstan development company “Ak Bars Development”. For quite a long time now architects have been working on the design concepts for “Sky Seven”, whose territory surrounds the new hippodrome of Kazan on three sides; Asadov Architectural Bureau and a number of other workshops worked on the district in 2008; the before-crisis ideas were left on paper. Now “Ak Bars Development” is building a second stage of the micro district “Kazan XXI Vek” in the Eastern part of “Sky Seven”: twenty eight-storey buildings out of panels of the KDSK, former KPD-3 – the plant bought out and modernized by the developer was inaugurated in July.
The territory of “Euroquarter” is situated on the other, Western side of the hippodrome, in place of the old airport – whose building of the Stalin period is planned to be preserved, and near as of yet the only skyscraper in Kazan – the tower “Azure Skies” (460ft high). “Euroquarter” will also be built using the resources of KDSK but architecturally – let’s say – more personified. In 2014 “Ak Bars Develpment” considered holding an international tender, but having dropped this idea it decided in favour of Sergey Skuratov’s bureau upon the recommendation of the adviser of the company on architecture and urban planning – Dmitriy Puzyryov; and so the architects received an order for a design concept of the new district M-8. The work was done by the beginning of 2005. Now the concept has been seen and approved by the Chief Architect of Kazan – Tatyana Prokofyeva, the mayor and the interim president of Tatarstan; the project has also been shown to the Minister of Construction of the Russian Federation, Michael Men.
It is planned that during two years the architects will be thoroughly working with the project for launching several new production lines at the plant – so that when the construction begins it goes fast: as Head of “Ak Bars Development” says, this way the company wants to “reach the western practice”. At the moment the facades are not yet elaborated, but in the future Sergey Skuratov plans to expand the number of individual variants up to a hundred. “We are planning to offer a kind of LEGO, – says the architect. – A construction set that could develop afterwards”. The new production lines, more precisely – the new type of production and relationship between an architect and a house-building plant established by the project – could trigger a development of a completely different kind of panel construction in Kazan: flexibly variable and suited for multiple architectural choices. Since the project suggested by Sergey Skuratov is by no means a “typical” one in the traditional sense.
The main theme of “Euroquarter” is the image of the Volga and in general contemplation about the bordering location of Kazan between East and West. The lengthwise park located almost at the spot of the former takeoff strip, with a small man-made winding river has become the axis of the district. The water will be taken from an artesian well and “wound up” in a closed cycle: the river comes out under the office tower (somewhat taller than its former neighbor – 492ft), runs along the site following the variation of the relief (82ft), then goes under the ground where the pumps bring it back. The banks are cut in some places and low in the others, the river flows from North to South winding and forming a couple of small islands. In a word, this little “Volga” divides the assumed West and East that in the mind of Sergey Skuratov associate with two basic materials: brick and stone respectively. In the presentation sketch-book of the concept the figural poles are defined with two towers of Kazan Kremlin: the white Spasskaya Tower and Söyembikä Tower. The division is evident but conditional: the white-stone of the Spasskaya Tower actually refers only to its lower part, built under Ivan the Terrible (was he a man of the East or the West? He did not know it for sure himself. Probably, a man of West at the beginning of his reign, when he conquered Kazan). The same in the residential complex of Sergey Skuratov – the banks are not divided literally, white and brick facades are mixing, meeting and facing each other. Only the embankments are defined literally: the western is made of brick and the eastern is white-stone, and their “meeting” takes place on a footbridge in the form of a striped gradient with stone transiting into brick. In other words, the inexhaustible topic of East vs. West is shown but not imposed: one may contemplate it or not, being limited to observing the curious plastic effects of juxtaposing brick and stone. Apparently, the stone in the lower floors of the houses will be natural, and in the upper floors – concrete, man-made; the authors are considering adding oriental ornaments into the décor, that will emphasize the cultural difference between the houses and accent the intrigue of the project.
And in truth, it is not so much about the Volga and the formal division of Europe and Asia. The whole Russia is made up of the transfusion of East and West, the idea that has been frequently put in words but never actually found its bottom line. This transfusion becomes noticeable suddenly, sometimes as something beautiful, inexplicable. Such is the “national” Russian architecture of the 17th century, as defined by the late romanticists, and it includes the Söyembikä Tower, the belltower of the Spasskaya – its stem is western and it looks curious, oriental, but the mixture of red and white is attractive. This is the way Sergey Skuratov mixes white and red houses: both for the sake of the idea and beauty. On the other hand, in our time Kazan managed to implement the western idea of an innovation centre earlier than Moscow, and so a European residential district with all the features of modern planning can appear in the near future.
However, the game of cultural East-West contraposition was basically invented by the European culture. In this project Sergey Skuratov stays more than a European – rational, subtle and aware of the latest trends. The network of the quarters is an orthogonal gridiron plan, strictly oriented to cardinal points. The authors suggest their own module for the quarter – twice as shorter than in Manhattan, but not as squared as in Barcelona, to be exact – 3261x2181 feet. Skuratov explains that this size is a result of calculations and is accounted for by a number of causes. The houses are not too high: the average number of floors is 8 or 9 – something in between the houses of Stalin’s time and commercial apartment buildings of the 19th century; closer to the 490 feet high office tower the height of buildings increases up to 12 floors. The yards are shut off from cars (gathered in the underground parking lot), lifted above the pavement, quiet and green. The ground floors are allocated for cafes and shops – coming out by the river they turn into galleries similar to Rue de Rivoli.
One of the characteristic features of the “Euroquarter” is the large area allocated for various, including public, infrastructure. It is a complete little town, much like an ancient middle-sized polis – it is to be populated by about five thousand people. No wonder that the authors intend to make a theatre with an attached outdoor performance stage here, as well as an amphitheater in the river bend, a small museum and a shopping and sporting centre with a square – “agora” in front of them. Two rectangles of the quarter amid the residential development are allocated for kindergartens, and two more kindergartens are built into residential houses.
But the most impressive thing is the school: its gigantic volume spread along the ground – bionic and calligraphic at the same time – reminds the twirls of the Arabic script. Covered with an ornament of triangular street lamps and flexible, it develops the “oriental theme” (the school is white), and begins a new line of thoughts – about the incursion of modern architecture into the relatively conservative quarter development and their coexistence. According to the rules of the popular nowadays architectural game of historical reconstruction of the city, we see a small, sooner a European, or bordering (we shall not forget the main theme) town with all the components: with small, rationally planned and conservative quarters of the “new urbanism”, with inserts of bionic plastics, with its “City” – the office tower, with a river, etc.
On the other hand, and especially looking at the school – one may say that the little town also becomes similar to an ancient polis: it also contains everything, or almost everything, considered essential in these in its way perfect cities. For example, the school – that with a gentle motion inarms the stadium with lines of benches – does not at all look like a box from the Stalin period or, for instance, a Victorian educational institution. But it does remind an ancient gymnasium, a place where people with strong spirits and bodies were raised – an inherent part of Roman and Greek cities. This excellently goes into resonance with the neighboring city hippodrome, the street network and the amphitheater. The theme is emphasized by the small motifs of thin Chipperfield porches glimpsing amid the temporary facades: the white-stone air of the East is shifted somewhere towards Asia Minor, building a bridge back to about two thousand years ago and indicating the relation of modern care for public areas with its original. Which is also subtle: you can count the semantic levels, or you can just stay by the one you like – for example, the European quality of life promised by the project.
Among the facades suggested by Sergey Skuratov at the stage of designing, and according to the author – subject to further development and individualization, there are many examples that give away his master touch: asymmetric slants of windows, thin network, various textures, bold consoles. There are also some fresh ideas that – as you may assume – will stay. For instance, knowing that there is still one of Shukhov Towers remaining on the Volga, Skuratov suggests his interpretation of this motif – a diagonal net of the truss supporting the façade is decorated with brick. “There have been similar solutions in metal and wood, but not yet in brick, as far as I know” – says the author. This Shukhov truss spread along the facades becomes another contextual “Volga” accent, and on the other hand – an engineering one, very Europe-like, it does not appear in the brick part for nothing.
There are many subtle details and apparently not quite polished ideas in this developing project. And yet the most interesting fact is that it is planned to be built with panel technology. In this case the merger of East and West looks like a cultural dressing to the other, more important process: having made manifold, artistic architecture of residential houses his specialization – few architects work with residential buildings so artistically – Sergey Skuratov applies his experience to prefabricated architecture, factory-built housing, vaccinating the renewed Kazan plant. This is not the first experience of Russian architects working with panel constructing, but each following example gives hope for gradual change of typical panel construction – so boring for everyone now – towards individual, reasonable and, on the other hand – relatively cheap. This process is akin to evolution of species – the architect must get inside the area of responsibility of the plant, put the production under his control and transform it, so that it does not repeat the history of the 70s – the other way around.
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.
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.
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.
The Outer Space
Honoring the 300th anniversary of the Kuznetsk coal fields in 2021, a new passenger terminal of the Aleksey Leonov Airport in the city of Kemerovo will be built, designed by GK Spectrum and ASADOV Architectural Bureau.
The Pivot of Narkomfin Building
Ginzburg Architects finished the restoration of the Narkomfin Building’s laundry unit – one of the most important elements of the famous monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture.
The housing complex “Respublika” is so large that it can be arguably called a micro-town, yet, at the same time, it easily overcomes most of the problems that usually arise with mass housing construction. How could Archimatika achieve that? We are examining that on the example of the first stage of the complex.
The Flowing Lines
The five houses of the “Svoboda” block belonging to the “Simvol” residential complex present a vivid example of all-rounded work performed by the architects on an integral fragment of the city, which became the embodiment of the approach to architecture that hitherto was not to be seen anywhere in Moscow: everything is subjected to the flow of lines – something like a stream, enhanced by the powerful pattern of the facades akin to “super-graphics”.
A City by the Water
The concept of a large-scale housing development at the edge of Voronezh, near the city reservoir, or “the sea”, as it is locally called, uses the waterside height difference to create a sophisticated public space, paying a lot of attention to the distribution of masses that determine the look of the future complex if viewed from the opposite bank of the river.
A Journey to the Country of Art Deco
The “Little France” residential complex on the 20th line of the Vasilyevsky Island presents an interesting make-believe dialogue between its architect, Stepan Liphart, the architect of the New Hermitage, masters of the Silver Age, and Soviet Art Deco, about interesting professional topics, such as a house with a courtyard in the historical center of Saint Petersburg, and the balance between the wall and the stained glass in the architectonics of the facade. Here are the results of this make-believe conversation.
A House in a Port
This housing complex on the Dvinskaya Street is the first case of modern architecture on the Gutuevsky Island. The architectural bureau “A-Len” thoroughly explores the context and creates a landmark for further transformations of this area of Saint Petersburg.
Balance of Infill Development
Anatoly Stolyarchuk Architectural Studio is designing a house that inadvertently prevails over the surrounding buildings, yet still tries to peacefully coexist with the surrounding environment, taking it to a next level.
The Precious Space
Evolution Design and T+T Architects reported about the completion of the interior design project of Sberbank headquarters on the Kutuzovsky Avenue. In the center of the atrium, hovers the “Diamant” meeting room; everything looks like a chest full of treasures, including the ones of a hi-tech kind.
Big Little Victory
In a small-sized school located in Domodedovo in Moscow metropolitan area, ASADOV_ architects did a skillful job of tackling the constraints presented by the modest budget and strict spatial limitations – they designed sunlit classrooms, comfortable lounges, and even a multi-height atrium with an amphitheater, which became the center of school life.
The Social Biology of Landscape
The list of new typologies of public spaces and public projects has been expanded yet again — thanks to Wowhaus. This time around, this company came up with a groundbreaking by Russian standards approach to creating a place where people and animals can communicate.
Watched by the Angels from up Above
Held in the General Staff building of the Hermitage Museum, the anniversary exhibition of “Studio 44” is ambitious and diverse. The exhibition was designed to give a comprehensive showcase of the company’s architecture in a whole number of ways: through video, models, drawings, installations, and finally, through a real-life project, the Enfilade, which the exhibition opens up, intensifies, and makes work the way it was originally intended.
A New Version of the Old City
The house at Malaya Ordynka, 19, fits in perfectly with the lineup of the street, looking even as if it straightened the street up a little, setting a new tone for it – a tone of texture, glitter, “sunny” warmth, and, at the same time, reserved balance of everything that makes the architecture of an expensive modern house.
Stepan Liphart: “Standing your ground is the right thing to do”
A descendant of German industrialists, “Jophan’s son”, and an architect, speaks about how studying architectural orders tempers one’s character, and how a team of just a few people can design grand-scale housing projects to be built in the center of Saint Petersburg. Also: Santa Claus appearing in a Stalin high-rise, an arch portal to the outer space, mannerism painting, and the palaces of Paris – all covered in an interview with Stepan Liphart.
Honey and Copper
In the Moscow area, the architect Roman Leonidov designed the “Cool House” residence, very much in the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, spreading it parallel to the ground, and accentuating the horizontal lines in it. The color composition is based on juxtaposition of warm wood of a honey hue and cold copper blue.
The Ring on the Saisara Lake
The building of the Philharmonic Hall and the Theater of Yakut Epos, standing on the shore of the sacred lake, is inscribed into an epic circle and contains three volumes, reminiscent of the traditional national housing. The roof is akin to the Alaas – a Yakut village standing around a lake. In spite of its rich conceptual agenda, the project remains volumetrically abstract, and keeps up a light form, making the most of its transparency, multiple layers, and reflections.
Architecture of Evanescence
On the Vernadskogo Avenue, next to the metro station, appeared a high-rise landmark that transformed the entire area: designed by UNK Project, the “Academic” business center uncovered, in the form of its architecture, the meanings of the local place names.
The Theater and Music Circles
The contest-winning ambitious grand-scale project of the main theater and concert complex of the Moscow area includes three auditoriums, a yard – a public area – a higher school of music, and a few hotels. It promises to become a high-profile center for the classical music festivals on a national scale.