Based on the norms of insolation and the technical assignment, the architects of Sergey Estrin’s Architects have created an imagery and many-sided concept of a residential development in one of Moscow’s green areas.
Written by: Translated by: Anton Mizonov
23 June 2016
Difficulties stimulate creative thought, and the most interesting solutions are born in particularly difficult situations – probably every practicing architect is familiar with these postulates. A residential complex, designed by Sergey Estrin Architects within a closed competition for one of the quiet districts of Moscow, presents wonderful proof of these facts. The task was to build a block of flats to be populated rather densely, on a small lot of a bit less than half a hectare, densely surrounded on all sides with five-story buildings – the client expected to place 8 000 m2 of residential space here, plus rental areas on the ground floor. Perhaps, if it were to be implemented in the middle of nowhere, even on such a small land plot, the architects would “get off easy” by building a tower or a rectangular volume along the perimeter of the allotted land. But then there would be no unique sculpturesque image, developed by the project authors. It was not about the necessity of visual compliance with the context – it was the technical standards that made the authors go along the path of most resistance, and first of all provision of the necessary insolation level both for the new construction, and the neighboring houses, according to the current SanPiNs. Any building, which would rise higher, than three floors, would overshadow the existing houses around the lot. The client provided the authors with an insolation map, which they checked with while planning.
The way the volume was born can be seen in the infographics: having chosen the optimal height of the object as the starting point, the authors started changing the minimal height based on the shadow, cast by each separate segment on the near houses in different hours. The same applies to the insolation of the building itself. Calculations were made practically for every apartment during the planning process. What they achieved, was that during the daylight hours, at a certain time each apartment obtains maximum sunlight. Interchangeably, the house is lit from all the four sides as the sun moves. As a result, it formed a complex volume with multiple cuts along its height. It was divided into two buildings with a narrow street between them. Both buildings have special diagonal offshoots in plan – it can be seen clearly when looking at the complex from the height. The cut-offs are functional roofs with terraces.
Due to the fact that the insolation conditions turned out to be different for each of the four sides, the residential complex itself came off very diverse. It reminds a gigantic art-object: if you go round it, each step will open a new view. The smallest number of stories is two, the largest – ten. Interestingly, the inner facades of the complex – the facades of those very off-shoots – are placed at a shallow angle, in order to avoid a window-to-window look.
The final image of the house was created on the basis of Sergey Estrin’s graphic sketches. They remind the outlines of houses growing on the mountain slopes. Indeed, the uneven volumes, which the complex is formed of, could make such an impression. The cuts, shelves, multiple levels and terraces – all of them are attributes of compact settlements somewhere on the outskirts of Amalfi or on the Ligurian Coast. The author, however, assures that while planning the complex, he imagined a silhouette of a tiger, lying with its head up, and another, smaller tiger, lying at the feet of the first one – the cause for such associations was the embassy of one of the Far-Eastern countries near the construction site. For that matter, this complex is special exactly for that reason that its figurativeness has multiple meanings and can awaken all kinds of associations – from faint symbolic to very concrete ones. In the end, everyone chooses what is closer.
The buildings look especially dynamic thanks to the irregularly arranged, multiformat windows – mostly rather narrow and outstretched, but in some places – on the contrary – horizontally oriented, and in both cases reminding loopholes. An important accenting role is played by the large floor-to-ceiling screen windows, covering two floors at a time, sometimes with balconies (even though behind them are not duplexes, but ordinary apartments, separated with ceilings). Seaming randomness of placement and irregularity – these devices awaken various associations with a spontaneous, historically forming development, though at the same time we understand that the complex has been designed and built at one time. But the architects definitely managed to achieve an image of a psychologically and physically comfortable man-proportionate environment.
At the same time, the authors of the project did not want to exaggerate the effect of spontaneousness, and did not aim to create an impression, that the complex looks like a group of different volumes closely put together. That is why the architects underlined the unity of the elements: all the facades are faced with red brick. Suspended ventilated facades of solid brick fit wonderfully with the surrounding red-brick five-story houses. The complex is visually perceived as a whole, but does not seem a monolith, it does not suppress the view. It conveys the feeling of a comfortable urban environment, and not only in the yard, but also on the upper terraces of the apartments – they are small squares of a medieval city, surrounded by approaching three- and four-story houses, that are in fact – the walls of upper floors.
The authors have created a cozy environment on the inner territory. It was founded on the principles of space arrangement, applied in small European towns and proven over centuries. There is a winding narrow street here, passing among the sections, with planters, green lawns, trees, benches, places for rest and communication. There are also two small inner courtyards, connected with the narrow street and the outer streets-passages on the ground floor level. Basically, it is an urban mini-system made of cozy inner courtyards and a lane with roofed passages between them.
Besides the roofed passages to the inner territory, there are rental rooms for retail, services, a children’s club and a fitness center on the ground floor of both buildings. Underneath this territory is an underground garage with an entrance from the main street.
Both buildings are arranged according to a section-based principle: each section has its own entrance, bank of lifts and a minimum number of apartments per floor. According to the technical assignment, each floor has from 4 to 5 apartments. The floor plan consists of small units, as the market situation requires. Here are studio apartments of about 50 m2, two-room apartments of 65 – 70 m2 and three-room apartments of about 90 m2. Many apartments have exits to the functional roof with a terrace. Proportions of the rooms are about 1 to 1.5. There are duplexes on the top floors.
Any technical assignment is just a number of figures and technical data; and standards are also figures and requirements. So, by reading them, it is impossible to assume, what the creative solutions of the project authors would be. And even though the project of Sergey Estrin’s bureau did not win the contest, for the authors it has become an example to elaborate their approaches to planning in constrained conditions: a small land lot, surrounded with long formed dense development, is a place to expect the simplest and most plain answers, but the authors worked carefully with the volumes and architectural forms, and found an unusual image, however without overlooking the whole calculated background and the pragmatic side of the project.
The Strategy of Transformation
In this article, we are publishing eight projects of reconstructing postwar Modernist 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.
In the Rhythm of Block Construction
Last week, the housing complex “Ty i Ya” (“You and Me”) was presented, built in the northwest of Moscow. By a number of parameters, it exceeds the originally stated comfort-class format, and, on the other hand, fully meeting the city block construction paradigm, popular in Moscow, demonstrates a few interesting features, such as a new kind of public spaces for the residents, and high-ceilinged apartments on the first floors.
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.