Julius Borisov: “We worked on this project at a highest – you may say finest level”
On the outskirts of Ivanteevka, the construction of a low-rise housing estate is reaching completion: it is low-cost but attractive, thoroughly elaborated by the architects, and implemented practically exactly as the authors planned.
Written by: Anna Starostina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
Two years ago, we described in detail the project of the housing estate “Dutch Quarter” in Ivanteevka near Moscow – an example of a low budget, low-rise ribbon development that the architects managed to make manifold plastically and in design – within the allocated budget. Now, “the Dutch Quarter” is finished. The first stage is already put in operation: one of these days, the apartment owners are to receive the keys. Works on the second stage will be finished by the end of this year. The architects claim that practically all the ideas of the project have been implemented exactly as it was planned. And as we know, it is a rather rare thing.
The estate has at once become the winner of the urban residential property prize Urban Award 2015 in the nomination “Complex of the Year with the Best Architecture”.
Besides, the “Quarter” is an example of search for an actual alternative of panel dormitory districts that in recent years has finally become one of the main topics for consideration among the Russian architects. Julius Borisov, the co-founder of UNK project bureau and the chief architect of the project, told us about the solution found for this case.
Archi.ru: What in your opinion is the key to success of such bold but low-cost projects?
Julius Borisov: Although the complex is positioned as “comfort class” the participants of the project did everything at a highest – you may say “finest” level. Both the clients, and the consultants, as well as our architects worked exactly in the same way as with the expensive individual orders. It applies equally to the facade, planning, structural, architectural and engineering components of the project. As a rule, we have to deal with very low budget for designing; in this situation, even the most excellent architect cannot do much more than replicate a single designed section. In this case, we had to engage in earnest already on the stage of elaboration, and efficiently organize the process. In the end, the right “message” set originally by the client played the key role.
So, do the wish and awareness of the client play a crucial role?
Julius Borisov: Of course! There are enough four-five-storey complexes in Podmoskovye that have similar characteristics with “The Dutch Quarter”, but they all look like one-type barracks. It is a good thing if they have an inclined roof, other than that – they are just the well-known Khrushchev-era apartment blocks. In our case, the big experience of the client and his orientation towards the most advanced solutions, including those from abroad, played a significant role. Already on the planning stage, it was clear: we have to offer the best possible variant to the market. Curiously enough, severe city-planning limitations (we were allowed to build no higher than a four-storey complex) have also played a positive role. But for them, maybe our well-informed client would have also taken the easier way, and would have simply built twelve-storey houses on the site – they are economically much more efficient. But the monitoring bodies stood their ground, which was not taken by the client as an unfortunate obstacle, but as an additional challenge to create an unusual interesting product. And our merit is that we could design it.
There are also some obviously parallel features in the solutions suggested by UNK project for the tenth residential quarter in Skolkovo innovation center and for “The Dutch Quarter”: interchange of driveways and pedestrian walkways, fractionality of the volumes, different solutions for the composition, planning and the facades of each section, with the common typology and so on. Can it be defined as common trends?
Julius Borisov: The difference between an economy- and premium-classes must not affect the basic characteristic of the accommodation, such as comfort and safety. Many large architecture firms turn cheap accommodation into a sort of ghetto. But why should the residents feel like second-class people if they cannot afford expensive apartments? We are convinced that there are some basic principles that must be applied to any type of accommodation. Children must no case get ran over by cars when getting out of their homes or playing on playgrounds, that is why we separate driveways and public areas. Everyone needs communication – that is why we provide special places where people of different ages can get together, that is, we found and form public life already on the project stage. In any case, people need shops and at least a minimal set of services; and since the complex is located on the outskirts of the city, we had to create the whole infrastructure. Yes, we did all that in Skolkovo too. And finally, people must not have a hard time thinking where to park their car. Even if we are not making underground parking-lots but just surface parkings, we are guided by people’s needs, rather than by the standards. Yes, in low-cost projects, the cars will just stand on the street, not in garages, but there will be enough space. Obviously, architectural solutions affect the psychological comfort of people.
In Skolkovo, in order to diversify the environment, we used a play of volumes and materials, and in “The Dutch Quarter” we developed about 17 different types of houses. Such site development does not feel monotonous and boring: different textures and colors of the façade finish, interchanging height of the sections and irregular rhythm of the windows allow the residents to easily find their section. The functional comfort is also elaborated: for example, we went away from the central cold supply system, but provided everything necessary for installation of ACs beforehand. If the decide to get one installed, the outside units hidden behind special panels will not interfere with the look of the building; and thanks to the sound-subduing screens, will not be too noisy. By the way, when working on low-cost accommodation, one must not only consider the cost the project itself, but also of home ownership. It was hard for us to drop the idea of lifts, but both the machines themselves and their maintenance are expensive. Basically, it is not such a big problem to go up the stairs to the fourth floor, only if you are not with a baby stroller: so, in order to reduce the negative consequences of such economy, we have provided special areas for baby strollers on the ground floor.
And still, what are the exact methods for achieving the required visual comfort?
Julius Borisov: We tried to give the residents an impression that they live in a complex of a higher class, and for that reason we used expensive finishing materials. For example, Flemish brick, which was formerly often used in the elite Ostozhenka. To be more exact, we have two types of brick and two types of plaster that form the decorative “pattern” of the development. Ochre and white colors of the plastered facades create bright accents and remotely remind Holland. The brick facades are meant to graphically demonstrate the quality of the created environment. There are also some important details: for example, the spaces between the windows are in some places filled with HPL-panels which makes the pattern even more manifold, the stair flights and conditioning packs are “protected” with special colored aluminum battens that “catch” the textured pilaster-side lines at the corners of both plastered and brick buildings. Besides, instead of the standard glass units, we used ones of a higher quality and more presentable appearance, with dark, laminated profile. Well, and the sections themselves sooner remind European townhouses, rather than multicompartment buildings, that they actually are.
Have you used any elements of green construction, some technological novelties, or is there no place for them in a low-cost project?
Julius Borisov: I guess I cannot name any unique solutions, like pneumatically operated garbage chute in Skolkovo. However, there are some important details. First of all, we have installed a double-pressure boiler in every apartment, like they do in Germany. This solution allows us to use the natural resources effectively and significantly reduce utility charges: when they leave, the residents can set the minimal temperature and not heat the rooms in vain. The user can personally regulate the heat – which is a great advantage. We used efficient LEDs in the landscape illumination and lights of public areas, so the energy consumption for the light of the whole settlement is relatively low. We thought of placing lower lamps that are more effective and efficient, instead of the standard city lights. This solution turned out to be very important also from the point of view of general comfort, since we managed to fully eliminate the bothering blinding lights in the windows. And finally, the high-quality winterization of the facades allowed the architects to reduce the consumption of heat in winter and conditioning in summer. It is also important to mention the thorough program of landscaping of the territory, developed by Swiss specialists engaged in the project.
“The Dutch Quarter” is not located in the center, but on the outskirts of Ivanteevka, on the borderline with the forest. Nevertheless, how does it interact with the environment and the city?
Julius Borisov: Indeed, all the main boulevards here lead from the entrance to the forest. Obeying the natural rhythm of life, people can leave home and go for a walk. On the other side of the site, there is a low-rise district; we placed low buildings with the cheapest studio-apartments there – they form a certain “buffer”. Of course, we took the surrounding development into consideration, but since it is completely commonplace, it is our quarter that must become “the driver of growth” of the whole district in the near future. Further development will be guided by this quarter.
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.