Transformation of "Belgrade"

The project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel will turn it into a practical and fully-equipped facility, at the same time carefully preserving the recognizable style of the soviet modernism - and will even restore the symmetry of the Smolenskaya Square.

Written by:
Alla Pavlikova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

18 February 2016

The new year saw "Belgrade" Hotel, built back in 1976 in pair with its "twin" tower on the Smolenskaya Street, shut down for reconstruction with an accompanying closing ceremony. The very fact is a precedent in itself - because normally guests and reporters are invited to an opening ceremony of something. In this case, however, people were invited to close this facility, see one of its walls publicly torn down, walk around its now-deserted floors, peek into the soviet-era rooms with light bulbs screwed out and furniture partially taken out as well, but nonetheless commanding the same magnificent views of the Moskva River and the high-rise of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nearby. The hotel in its original condition - and it must be noted at this point that ever since it was built, the building was never remodeled - was seen by the crowd for the last time. On the 15th of January, the construction work began.

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Version 2 © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. In the panorama of the Smolenskaya Street. © T+T Architects

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Master plan © T+T Architects

The project of reconstructing and changing the plan of the hotel with regard to the requirements of the well-known Azimut Hotels chain was developed by the Russian company "T+T Architects". The first thing that the architects had to take into consideration was the importance and the very specifics of the hotel's location - on one of the city's main squares. The Smolenskaya Square was formed in the first half of the XX century, its main centerpiece being the high-rise of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Built in 1976 and 1973 respectively, and flanking the square from the west, the two identical towers of the hotels "Belgrade" and "Golden Ring" were meant to complete the architectural ensemble as two giant propylaea, a grand entrance to the Stalin high-rise.

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Current status © T+T Architects

The high degree of "involvement" of the building with the context made the architects refrain from the idea of making any radical changes to its architecture, even though some of the early versions of the project provided for significant changes. The long-term work inside the company and interacting with Moscow's numerous municipal agencies (the project, among other things, had to get the approval of Moscow's architectural board) helped find the best possible solution that was focused on the preservation of the historical look of the modernist high-rise. The rhythm, the texture, and the colors of the façades, the fenestration, and the integrity of the overall composition - the architects were to keep all of these intact, at the same time updating the building and breathing a new life into it. As for the "old" walls with their prominent vertical pattern and the signature "rib" feel, the architects decided to reconstruct them very delicately, changing all the old materials with the new ones, up-to-date and technology friendly. 

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Details of the facade © T+T Architects

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Details of the facade © T+T Architects

For example, the existing structure of aluminum cross-beams with multiple glass units will be changed to new glazing of varying transparency but of the color identical to the original. In the dull sections, the architects are planning to use blacked-out glass with a soft shimmer, while in the rooms it will be fully transparent high windows commanding panoramic views of the city. The piers between the windows will be coated with tinted glass panels that will also repeat the structure and the color of the finish of the building. In addition, by using extra decorative vertical lamellae, the architects proposed to give it a more slender and upright look. The first floor will be covered by new stained glass made from refined glass of particular transparency. Only the stone pylons that flank the bottom part of the building will be left in their places. They will be renovated, cleaned from the dirt and the streaks, and the cracks in them will be fixed. These massive, slightly concave pylons of natural stone will become one of the most palpable reminders of the authentic history of this building, its material fragment from the 1970's, clearly readable from a comparatively close range. 

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. The entrance group without the marquee © T+T Architects

The top part of the twenty-floor high parallelepiped will get a two-story glass buildup with an elliptical plan. This is the most noticeable addition of all that are made in the course of this reconstruction, and it is necessitated by the fact that the twin tower of "Golden Ring" hotel got such a buildup as early on as in 2003, and the new glass volume over "Belgrade" will only restore the symmetry of the architectural ensemble. But then again, the architects themselves confess that if they had not had to take into consideration the already existing buildup over the neighboring tower, they would have opted for a rectangular plan - such an option was even proposed in one of the early versions of the project. 

Inside the glass buildup, there will be a restaurant commanding panoramic views of the city and the Moskva River. The vacant part of the roof around the ellipsis will also be made usable - with the restaurant's summer terraces and sightseeing platforms. In addition, the buildup will include small stores, a fitness center, and a cafe.

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Version 2 © T+T Architects

Yet another important task for the designers was accentuating the grand entrance to the hotel. Today, finding it is no easy feat - there is neither marquee nor sign, the doors mixing in with the background of the first floor. In order to repair this significant omission, the authors proposed to mark the entrance with a broad black frame of the rectangular portal - such an accent would not go unnoticed against the backdrop of refined glass with minimal joints, opening up the view of the hotel lobby. The architects also proposed to cap the entrance with a semitransparent faceted marquee - although the implementation of this particular element is still to be discussed.

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. The entrance group with the marquee © T+T Architects

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. The entrance group with the marquee © T+T Architects

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. The entrance group with the marquee © T+T Architects

Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. The current status © T+T Architects

The inside space of the hotel that, when remodeled, will claim four stars instead of today's three, will also change significantly. The engineering lines will be all replaced with new ones. The basement will get a new parking garage. All the premises, including the entrance lobby with its grand staircase and the conference halls will be brought to meet the requirements of the new hotel chain operator. 

At the example of "Belgrade", the customer is looking to implement the concept of a smart-hotel, its priorities being functionality, laconism, and modern technologies. For this reason, the rooms will get equipped with new high-tech gadgets, the entrance lobby will turn into a co-working zone where one can enjoy a cup of coffee or organize business meetings 24/7. The second floor will be occupied by retail stores. At the expense of developing the floors that are unused today, the architects will be able to boost the number of hotel rooms from 236 to 474. One of the floors will be exclusively occupied by six large conference halls. In a word, keeping the recognizable features of the building's historic identity of classic modernism, the renovated "Belgrade" promises to become a comfortable, state-of-the-art, and quite reasonably priced city hotel with an attractive location. The renewed building is expected to open by 2018.
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Version 4 © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Location plan © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Map of the territoriaal organization © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Development drawing © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Facade © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Facade © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Facade © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Facade © T+T Architects
Project of renovating "Belgrade" Hotel. Facade © T+T Architects

18 February 2016

Written by:

Alla Pavlikova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
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.
Health Constructor
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 Aperture Effect
For a housing complex built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow metropolitan area, KPLN Architects designed facades that adjust the stream of light by using the wall geometry.
​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.
Color and Line
The new successful techniques developed by A.Len for designing a kindergarten under budget constraints: the mosaic of irregular windows and working with color.
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 Countdown
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.
White Town
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.
Pedagogical Architecture
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.
​Rational Arrangement
In this article, we are examining a complex of buildings and interiors of the first stage of the project that has recently become extremely popular – the Kommunarka clinic.
​Parallel Universe
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.
​Waves of Sound
The conceptual design of a music school: proximity to an Alvar Aalto building, expressive organics, and an attempt to draw public attention to a “low-profile” competition.
​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.
​Wicker Vitality
Next to the Dubrovka metro station, ADM has designed a Vitality housing complex with a polychrome mixture of Klinker brick on its ridged facades.
​Freedom Factory
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.