The voluminous construction of this residential complex reacts to the structure of the city fabric, while the geometry of its facades - to the creative search of mature modernism, although the allusions are presented in a contemporary way, with keen attention to detail.
Written by: Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The Grishina Street is comparatively narrow, and its surroundings are overgrown with trees. The "red line" is supported here by the Stalin-era houses, the later buildings trying frantically to break this red line but not quite succeeding - the typically Moscow, or, in a broader context, typically soviet "war of the worlds" stretches for miles here between the Mozhaisk Highway and Moscow Ring Road. The land site is located exactly between a 50's building of gray silicate brick holding the red line, with a gable, stuccoed pilasters and a cornice - and a few "slabs" of the early seventies that pretty much became the symbol of the late-soviet architecture. So, in spite of the fact that there are also panel houses in the neighborhood, and there is an array of five-story affairs right across from it, the immediate surroundings of the complex are made of bricks of various shades of color.
So it comes as no surprise that the main facade here is predominantly made of brick, a material that is contextually justified, popular in the contemporary architecture, and one that allows for keeping up the respectability of the traditional city, at the same time adding a modern twist to it.
But then again, the brick facades were not the stipulated specification but the architects' independent choice. The main task that was set before the authors of the project was squeezing a maximum of usable square meters, a parking lot, and a kindergarten into a small half-hectare land site with a six-meter relief drop (the slope starts off from the Grishina Street and goes further down eastward). Apart from that, there are future plans for building a driveway along the north border of the site.
Three fourths of the allotted construction blueprint are taken up by the stylobate of the building, only a small rectangle lying south (and thus getting most of the sunlight) remaining vacant. For this reason, it will be occupied by the children's playground. The two-volume story of the kindergarten, again, for insolation reasons, the architects placed on the south side - it stands catching the sunlight with its large windows but, being in fact a low-rise structure, does not block the "top-quality" southeast sunlight to the residential units. There are two such units: one, seven stories high, stretches along the street's red line and continues the theme of the Stalin five-story building; the other, fourteen stories high, is inscribed into the scale of the later-built houses of the immediate surroundings standing at different angles at the back of the site. As we can see, the project is not devoid of reflective meditation on the properties of the urban environment: the complex so much as "holds" the street and opens up to the nature of the innermost part of this area; not only does it reconcile the two types of city within itself but it also lives on its borderline situation.
The tall ground floors are designed to include public premises. Besides the "ground" yard, the architects provided two more: one on the flat roof of the kindergarten for the toddlers to take walks on, and the main "car-free" yard on the roof of the underground parking garage. From the Grishina Street, the yard can be accessed through the tall rectangular "arch" opening in the left part of the seven-floor slab. The landscaping inside is laconic but still provides for special paving and artificial terrain. The lowest level can be accessed from both yards - the major and the minor (kindergarten) one - by open air staircases. They descend from two sides along the eastern border of the stylobate and, if one is to look from the inside "wilderness", the profiles of the staircases may look like some sort of park decoration, although they sport a pretty austere look: this, of course, not Palazzo Pitti, but a simple city house of comfort class.
And, still, the main means of architectural expression here is the design of the facades. Their composition is designed to match the slim ivory crossbars and is remarkable in the balance of all of its constituent parts. The floors are grouped in twos but each pair is dissected in the middle by a thin horizontal stripe. The breadth of the windows and the bay windows alternate in a rhythmic and moderate way. But then again, the bay windows are highly contextual here and resemble the glazed balconies of the neighboring Stalin-era building. The depth of the walls varies significantly: from large a-meter-and-a-half stanza balconies to the slim, one brick deep, French ceiling-to-floor windows. The black metal of the balcony railings, the black inserts in the upper part part of the windows, the light-colored bricks and the glass of the windows are complemented by inserts that imitate dark-brown wood which enhances the effect of the walls being "deep" and multilayered.
The wall here is not at all a plane but an organized array of cavities and ledges inscribed into the brick grid of the facades with its clear-cut system of joints. The wide horizontal pulls are executed in the pure stretcher bond, and are framed with edgings of garden-wall bonds, and all this, lying in one plane, looks really graphic. The vertical pulls, on the other hand, sport a relief: the lines of running bond brickwork alternate with a drop half the width of the brick. The result looks very much like pixelated cannelures, the horizontals being the friezes, and the ribbed verticals being the blades that carry them.
Geometric yet still subtle in its details, this play looks rather like the creative search of the late modernism where architects sometimes would strength the construction bands, pushing the window pillars into the background and sometimes would let loose the vertical pulls, making open references to order or even a portico. In this part of the city, such kind of reference to seventies and eighties is not only appropriate but also can be considered as the author's understanding of the context. One must note, however, that in spite of the significantly greater complexity, the sheer number of constituent parts, and the refined texture as compared to that of the 80's, the architects were able to set off the vertical and the horizontal without giving preference to either of the two. All the lines are well-calculated, not a single one is crossed.
The Gallery Approach
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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.
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
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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.
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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
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Stairway to Heaven
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Cape of Good Hope
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The Outer Space
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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
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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
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Watched by the Angels from up Above
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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
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The Theater and Music Circles
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The Line of a Hardened Breakthrough
Designed by Stepan Liphart, the housing complex “Renaissance” continues the line of the historical center of Saint Petersburg, reinterpreting the Leningrad Art Deco and the neoclassical architecture of the 1930-50’s in reference to the civilization challenges posed by our century.
The Regeneration Experience
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The Terraces of the Crystal Cape
Proposed by Nikita Yavein, the concept of a museum, educational, and memorial complex to be built in the city of Sevastopol avoids straightforward accents and over-the-top dramatics, interpreting the history of this place along with the specifics of its landscape, and joining the public space of the operated stairway and amphitheaters with an imposing monument.
Evgeny Podgornov: “You need to make your projects visible”
The leader of Saint-Petersburg’s architectural company Intercolumnium explains why his company’s portfolio includes projects ranging from hi-tech to historicism, discourses upon high-rise landmarks, about the clients, and about the sources of the drive that the city needs.