In Saint Petersburg's Moscow District, not far away from the Constitution Square, appeared a new high-rise built upon the project of "A.Len" Studio - named "Klever" ("Clover").
Written by: Irina Bembel Translated by: Anton Mizonov
11 November 2015
Well, as a matter of fact, the Russian for "clover" is "klever" which sounds almost exactly like "clever". Considering the fact that most Russians know the basics of English, some of the people perceive this name as "clover", and some - as "clever". Whichever.
The genre of a multi-apartment building by default sets rather rigid limits for creative work. The modular cells almost inevitably come together to make a tall prism whose image is to a large degree defined by the configuration of the land site and the multitude of mandatory rules and regulations. As a result, the architect's job is pretty much as good as done rather early on: now he has only to fiddle with the pilasters a little bit, play around with the basement floor, and try to conceal as much as possible the endless monotony of the modular facade. This last task is usually assisted by the graphic and color solutions. In this case, the authors, according to their own author note, used the motifs of the icons of suprematism Malevich and Suetin, as well as the co-founder of neoplasticism Pete Mondrian.
Already a common standard in the fashion and fragrance industries, the multicolored Mondrian cell grid seems to lend itself to the multistory facades. So it is all the more surprising that the architects did not pay attention to it a lot earlier. In Saint Petersburg, the precedent occurred in 2009: "imitation Mondrian" design was used to decorate the soviet-origin kindergarten building at 102, Moika. And now, the grid of multicolored rectangles has started covering the new buildings designed by "A.Len".
The leader of "A.Len" Sergey Oreshkin openly admits and even airs his orientation to avant-garde and its related western sub genres. At the same time, the Russian avant-garde still holds the leading positions here. While the rectangular Mondrian grid makes a perfect match for the facade surfaces, for organizing the space the architects drew inspiration from the ideas of constructivism and suprematism, predominantly not any specific suprematism techniques being borrowed but its basic principles: the dynamics, the openness, the geometric abruptness of gesture, and the consistent denial of the principles of the classical composition - characteristic for "A.Len" projects.
In the case of "Clever", exploring all these qualities to the fullest was made impossible, as was already said, by the strict boundaries of the genre, and even the rigid Mondrian grid looks softened and tamed on the facade of this house. Its colors are lightened, softened, and at places they indeed look like the tone of clover - which, together with the purple haze, endows the 25-story giant with an unobtrusive and even welcoming appearance.
Besides the "summer" palette, the overall visual lightness of the building is enhanced by the liberally glazed bottom floor with pilasters between the tall shop windows. Here the spacious entrance lobby with a concierge is situated, as well as the service and shopping premises.
While the facade and its main entrance, as well as the two side walls are designed as more or less free combinations of rectangles, the fourth facade sports a distinct symmetry axis. It is shown by a vertical row of balconies with unusual decorative links executed in the form of slender stripes that connect different levels at arbitrary angles. From a distance, these "staggering" stripes looks as if they were made of opaque glass, but upon a closer examination they turn out to be filled with mesh playing obviously a purely decorative part meant to defeat the downright logic of the right angle. Crossing freely in the objectless space, such "flying sticks" were a favorite technique with Malevich and Suetin, but in this case their streaming flow is channeled down a dedicated lane of its own.
Generally, for all the stuffiness of the genre limits, the architects were able to come up with some interesting "technique" the essence of which is "playing inconsistent" where every logic order immediately meets with its controversy. Here is the thing: it is Mondrian - yet not quite, Malevich and Suetin - but strictly along a symmetry axis, a highlighted center - but of irregular outlines and uncertain colors; a vague hint at pilasters and rock face in the bottom floor - and the multicolored modern structural elements in the main part of the facades. All this surprisingly puts one in the mind of the double meaning of "Klever" that we wrote about in the very beginning of this article and its mysterious connection to Mondrian, Malevich, and Suetin. Put together, these things give the building a slight relativistic postmodernist flavor.
The new high-rise rather tactfully entered the already formed urban matter of Moscow District finding support in the blue silhouette of "Leader Tower" business center and other modern buildings surrounding the Constitution Square. The building is perfectly "readable" from the Krasnoputilovskaya Street as yet another tower standing amidst the soviet-era "ship" houses.
The level of landscaping of the adjacent territory deserves a special mention. At the expense of the underground parking garage, the building has a fully-pedestrian green adjacent territory with a children's playground. The mirror-glazed ground floor with expensive-looking rhythmic "pilasters" significantly widens the territory, lightens the multistory mass, and adds to this new part of city environment a glossy finish pleasant to the eye.
The Strategy of Transformation
In this article, we are publishing eight projects of reconstructing postwar Art Nouveau buildings that have been implemented by Tchoban Voss Architekten and showcased in the AEDES gallery at the recent Re-Use exhibition. Parallel to that, we are meditating on the demonstrated approaches and the preservation of things that architectural legislation does not require to preserve.
Five Nonlinear Ones
Recently, at the Moscow Urban Forum, they announced a large-scale project that Zaha Hadid Architects would do for Moscow – the multifunctional housing complex Union Towers designed for Quarter 82 of Khoroshevo-Mnevniki at the commission of KROST development.
Etudes in Glass
The housing complex, located not far away from the Paveletskaya Railway Station, as a symbol of a sweeping transformation of this area: a composition of towers of different height, ingenious detailing of stained glass windows, and a green lawn in the yard.
A Flyover in Watercolor
For the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Vasilkovsky, the architectural office of Evgeny Gerasimov is reflecting on the Ushakov Flyover, which was designed with input from this artist and architect. In this article, we are showing its watercolors and sketches, including the preliminary ones that were not included in the final project, as well as speaking about the importance of architectural drawing.
Transformation with Multiplication
The Palace of Water Sports in Luzhniki is one of the high-profile and nontrivial reconstructions of recent years, and a project that won one of the first competitions, initiated by Sergey Kuznetsov as the main architect of Moscow. The complex opened 2 years ago; this article about it comes out at the start of the bathing season.
Sergey Tchoban: “I believe it’s very important to preserve this city as a record...
Although originally we planned to speak in this interview with Sergey Tchoban about high-rise construction, the conversation turned out to be 70% about meditation on the ways of regenerating the historical city and about the role of the city fabric as the most objective and unbiased historical record. And, as for the towers, which manifest social contrasts and leave a lot of junk when torn down, the conversation was about the expected construction norms and regulations. We took this interview one day before the Lakhta-2 project was announced, and this is why this newsbreak is not commented upon in any way in this article.
Courtyards and Constructivism
In this issue, we are examining the second major block of the “city within a city” Ligovsky City complex, designed and built by A-Len, and combining several trends characteristic of modern urban architecture.
Inside of a Drawn Grid
Designing the apartment complex PLAY in Danilovskaya Sloboda, ADM architects placed their bet on the imagery of construction. The area where it manifested itself the most vividly was the sophisticated grid of the facades.
Headquarters of the Future
The project by “Arena Group”, which won in an open competition of ideas for the headquarters of the Italian company FITT, combines futuristic forms, an interesting set of functions, energy efficiency, and subtle references to the archetypes of Italian architecture. Particularly beautiful is the “continuous” fountain. In this issue, we are sharing about the three winners of the competition.
The Yard Aesthetics
Organizing the yard of a premium-class housing complex, GAFA architects took care not just about the image that matches the project’s high status, but also about simple human joys, masterfully overcoming the construction regulations.
MasterMind: a Neural Network for Developers and Architects
Created by Genpro, this software allows you to generate within half an hour dozens of development and construction options in accordance with the set parameters. At the same time, however, being more focused on the technical aspects, the program does not exclude creative work, and can be used by architects for preparing projects with a subsequent data export to AutoCAD, Revit, and ArchiCAD.
This Beetle Has Flown
The story of designing a business center in the Zhukov (“Beetle”) Drive: a number of attempts to preserve a hundred-year-old cold storage facility, at the same time introducing modern buildings interpreting the industrial theme. The project remained on paper, but the story behind it seems to be worth our attention.
The Childhood Territory
The project of the educational complex within the second stage of “Spanish Quarters” was developed by ASADOV Architects. The project is all about creating a friendly and transparent environment that in itself educates and forms the personality of a child.
Man and the City
Designing this large-scale housing complex, GAFA architects accentuated two types of public spaces: bustling streets with shops and cafes – and a totally natural yard, visually separated as much as possible from the city. Making the most out of the contrast, both work together to make the life of the residents of EVER housing complex eventful and diverse.
Andy Snow: “I aim for an architecture which is rational and poetic”
The British architect Andy Snow has recently become the chief architect at GENPRO Architects & Engineers. Projects, which Andy Snow did in the UK in collaboration with world-famous architectural firms, scored numerous international awards. In Russia, the architect took part in designing Moscow’s Stanislavsky Factory business center, iLove housing complex, and AFI2B business center on the 2nd Brestskaya Street. In our interview, Andy Snow compared the construction realities in Russia and the UK, and also shared his vision of architectural prospects in Russia.
The Living Growth
The grand-scale housing complex AFI PARK Vorontsovsky in Moscow’s southwest consists of four towers, a “slab” house, and a kindergarten building. Interestingly, the plastique of the residential buildings is quite active – they seem to be growing before your eyes, responding to the natural context, and first of all opening the views of the nearby park. As for the kindergarten building, it is cute and lyrical, like a little sugar house.
Sergey Skuratov: “A skyscraper is a balance of technology, economic performance, and aesthetic...
In March, two buildings of the Capital Towers complex were built up to a 300-meter elevation mark. In this issue, we are speaking to the creator of Moscow’s cutting-edge skyscrapers: about heights and proportions, technologies and economics, laconicism and beauty of superslim houses, and about the boldest architectural proposal of recent years – the Le Corbusier Tower above the Tsentrosoyuz building.
The Red Building
The area of Novoslobodskaya has received Maison Rouge – an apartment complex designed by ADM, which continues the wave of renovation, started by the Atmosphere business center, from the side of the Palikha Street.
The Uplifting Effect
The project of Ostankino Business Park was developed for the land site lying between two metro stations (one operating and the other in construction), and because of that its public space is designed to equally cater for the city people and the office workers. The complex stands every chance of becoming the catalyst for development of the Butyrsky area.
In this article, we are examining a rather rare and interesting case – two projects by Evgeny Gerasimov situated on one street and completed with a five years’ difference, presenting the perfect example of example for analyzing the overall trends and approaches practiced by the architectural company.
Raising the Yard
The housing complex Renome consists of two buildings: a modern stone house and a red-brick factory building of the end of the XIX century, reconstructed by measurements and original drafts. The two buildings are connected by an “inclined” yard – a rare, by Moscow standards, version of geoplastics that smoothly ascends to the roof of the stores lined up along a pedestrian street.
Hearing the Tune of the Past
The Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist in the park near the Novodevichy Convent was conceived in 2012 in honor of the 200th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. However, instead of declamatory grandeur and “fanfare”, the architect Ilia Utkin presented a concentrated and prayerful mood, combined with a respectful attitude of this tent-shaped church, which also includes some elements of architecture of orders. The basement floor hosts a museum of excavations found on the site of the church.
The high-end residential complex STORY, situated near the Avtozavodskaya metro station and the former ZIL factory, is delicately inscribed in the contrastive context, while its shape, which combines a regular grid and a stunning “shift” of the main facade, seems to respond to the dramatic history of the place, at the same time, however, allowing for multiple interpretations.
Yards and Towers: the Samara Experiment
The project of “Samara Arena Park”, proposed by Sergey Skuratov, scored second place in the competition. The project is essentially based on experimenting with typology of residential buildings and gallery/corridor-type city blocks combined with towers – as well as on sensitive response to the context and the urge to turn the complex into a full-fledged urban space providing a wide range of functions and experiences.
The Fili Duo
The second phase of the Filicity housing complex, designed by ADM architects, is based on the contrast between a 57-story skyscraper 200 meters high and an 11-story brick house. The high-rise building sets a futuristic vector in Moscow housing architecture.
The Wall and the Tower
The OSA architects have been searching for solutions that could be opposed to the low-rise construction in the center of Khabarovsk, as well as an opportunity to say a new word in the discourse about mass housing.
An Office for Concentrating Ideas
T+T Architects have designed an office for a French IT company, where the employees in any point of the premises can discuss with their colleagues new ideas or even write them on the wall.