The first place for the best contest proposal for Radisson Blue hotel complex was won by Saint Petersburg's "A.Len" with a project of an ensemble of two contrasting volumes vividly demonstrating the dialectical principle of unity and struggle of opposites.
Written by: Lilya Aronova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The future hotel complex Radisson Blu whose best proposal contest results were announced on the 20th of August, found itself in the focus of several highly vital vectors of today's urban development: first of all, it is about a waterfront territory, second of all, about converting a former industrial park (in this case - the territory of Moscow plant of building materials), third - the very location of the land site imposes high obligations on the architects: at the cape of the Moskva and the Skhodnya rivers, surrounded by the picturesque scenery with really few buildings around. With regard to all of the above, Moskomarchitecture advised the customer to "use the most effective tool - the open contest". Out of the 70 works submitted by 36 creative teams, three projects were ultimately shortlisted. Then the judging panel awarded the first place to the concept by Sergey Oreshkin.
Just as the majority of the Saint Petersburg architects, the team of "A.Len" has been through the "toughening course" of designing under the most rigorous town planning restrictions one could possibly think of - when each and every project of a more or less significant height is thoroughly analyzed in terms of its superposition on the city's every axis and distant panorama. This is why they like nobody else work with perspectives - long and very long, five to seven kilometers long. In this case, this ability came in particularly handy (and, quite possibly, became one of the corner stones of the project's success) due to the fact that this particular hotel complex of Radisson Blu must become the tallest building for miles around and it's going to be seen from some really distant points including such busy highways as Volokolamsk Highway and Moscow Ring Road. At such distances, it is basically only the silhouette that works, or, two silhouettes, to be more exact, one taller and one longer that interact with one another in a complex way: depending on a specific viewing point, they overlap in different ways forming a new picture each time.
As one gets closer to it, the building "grows"; its details start showing through, and at middle distances it is the facades that are the main heroes of the play, these facade being something that the authors paid particular attention to while they were working on the project. As the main idea, the architects use the effect of optical illusion - because of the virtually invisible change of the width of the spaces between the windows, and thanks to the combination of differently darkened materials, a "vibrating" effect is created, a feeling that the air "congeals" around the building in a mother-of-pearl gradient. First time around, A.Len tried and tested these "parametric" technologies in their recent project of an elite residential quarter in the city of Ufa: just as here, the "vibrant" facade with pylons of varying height - of one or two floors - upon a rough, to the point of brutal, volume. In the project of Radisson Blu Moscow Riverside this effect is still more strengthened by the color solution of the facades: when an imposing mass of mother-of-pearl whiteness competes with its black counterpart, and the whole thing glitters, moves, and breathes - this looks really beautiful.
There is yet another construction element that is designed to work for the middle perspective in both of the buildings, although at different levels: the horizontal rectangular cutaways that from a distance look like windows in the stone wall. In the black building this cutaway will be white, and in the white building it will be black, as if the antagonist volumes are catching reflections of one another, thus demonstrating that they are of the same flesh and blood. And, while in the squatting dark building this "light window" is situated closer to the upper part, the soaring white volume looks indeed like it is "taking off" it's stylobate thanks to the cut away quadrant, easing the visual tension in the point of the junction of the vertical and horizontal volumes.
The roof of the stylobate supports two volumes and can be accessed by a ramp - a bus of tourists can easily drive in here, for example - as well as by a long diagonal stairway designed in such a way that an impatient guest can, directly from the driving entrance, have the opportunity to ascend directly to the "cleavage" between the two volumes commanding the view of the cape between the Moskva and the Skhodnya - meaning, to the main vantage point of the ensemble. Along the entire perimeter of the stylobate, Sergey Oreshkin designed a lobby gallery that provides access to all the major zones of the complex: the hotel part, the apartments, the business center, the restaurant (also two-level, and, of course, with panoramic views), and the spa. And the guests are met downstairs, on the first floor, where, besides the reception area, there are also cafes and a lounge.
On the plan, both volumes are irregular polygons, one elongated, and the other having almost a trapeze shape. Together with the different height (the height difference between the units is about twenty meters) and contrasting colors, such solution accentuates the separation of the functions: it is planned that the dark building will contain the long-stay apartments, while the white one will consist of regular hotel rooms. The diagonal corridor between these two - the visual axis of the ensemble - completes this dichotomous picture. As Sergey Oreshkin shares, the only thing that came as a surprise to the hotel operator was the proposal to place the long-stay unit closer to the river - i.e. in the more prestigious location. The architects were able, however, to persuade the customer that it made more sense positioning the apartments in this place, more secluded. As far as the hotel block is concerned, it does not lose anything in terms of its sightseeing properties: thanks to the well though-out plans and specially designed visual axis, almost 100% of the premises (it is only the elevator chutes that look away from the river) command the view of the water. However, even considering this circumstance, it will make sense for the future guests of the hotel to go up on the roof that the authors of the project are planning to encircle with a parapet of "breathing" height: at some places it is as low as a railing and at some places it turns into a tall "mini-Stonehenge", putting the landscape into a rectangular frame, each time, according to Sergey Oreshkin, slightly different. Of course, such parapets also work great with the perspective adding extra intrigue to the silhouette of the complex.
The "A.Len" are experienced "hotel builders": the bureau's portfolio has in it about a dozen hotels, three of them - the ones in Yaroslavl, Novosibirsk, and Kazan - belonging to the brand Park Inn that is run by the same operator as Radisson Blu. So, nothing in this project is accidental, and the separating the functions in the two major units is conditioned by the architects' knowledge of the specifics of the object: because in the case of hotels vertical communications are generally more effective than the vertical ones, the hotel room stock, proceeding from the optimum values of the length of the corridor for the work of the hotel staff, will be housed in the taller and narrower building, while the apartment zone (that requires less service maintenance) allows for a longer path from the elevator to the apartment door. Furthermore, it turned out that all the proposals on arranging the driving entrances and the internal communications that are there in the "A.Len" project, are really close to what the customer had in mind so these parts of the project will require the least possible fine-tuning. Which, of course, could not help but win the judging panel over and - together with the dramatic architectural image - brought the project the ultimate victory in the contest.
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.