"Superblock" on the Waterfront
- contemporary architecture
The multifunctional housing project "Megalit" in Saint Petersburg's Nevsky District - designed by "Eugene Gerasimov and Partners".
The housing project "Megalit" is situated on a high-profile land site: its main façade is turned on the Obukhovdkoy Oborony Avenue that plays the role of a waterfront in this area. Thus, the new building is taking part in forming the image of the city if one is to look at it from the Neva River, earlier on this function having been performed by the building of "Rechnoy Vokzal" ("Riverboat Station") and the accompanying "Rechnaya" Hotel.
The 23-story volume of "Megalit" is seen from far away. Eugene Gerasimov comments on his solution in this way: "The configuration of the project was conditioned by the form of the land site it was to be built on, and by the stipulated figures of the resulting useful floor space. In accordance with the traditional Neva panoramas, this is a big house with an elongated façade that overlooks the river. Its height is supported by the nearby soviet-era high-rises. Obviously, we had to fracture this enormous surface somehow - but the insolation regulations did not let us make ledges on the building's façade. In such a situation, as is often the case, the difficulties prompted us the right solution, and this is how the technique of "cyclopean brickwork" with giant openings in it came about. This move was also unexpectedly suggested by the very name of the developer company - "Megalit". I usually tend to take notice of such "signs" because I consider them to be sort of beacons for one's creative intuition. The role of the openings is played by the deep vertical recessions between the main blocks. To achieve this, we had to "cut away" the front part of the apartments down to the state of a corridor, and our customer went for it in order to achieve the desired artistic effect. Thanks to the fact that these recessions are "looking" into the corridors, and not into the residential premises, they take on the desired unity of form, specifically, the lights come on and go out in them simultaneously. Generally, I can say that, having rather modest resources at our disposal, we search for the best possible solution to the task that we had to handle".
The resulting "superblock" built from smaller blocks of warm shades of color reminds of not only the soviet modernist tradition but also of today's trends in the European housing construction. Such play of volumes that allows for making large-scale structures come alive by adding extra movement to them is characteristic, for example, of the Dutch company MVRDV: it designed similar multi-apartment residential buildings in various parts of Europe. Just as is the case with the foreign examples, "Megalit" boasts a spacious inner yard inscribed into the double-L-shaped plan of the building. This solution (more on the classical side if compared with the Dutch who tend to design their yards sometimes at a considerable height between the apartments) also doubtlessly falls in with Saint Petersburg's architectural tradition.
What also brings up associations with the classical architecture is a terrace that belts the building at a height of 1.7 meters above the ground level. This terrace is open to the entrances of the offices that occupy the ground public floor: it includes a nursery school for sixty children, offices for rent, and the HQ of the management company of the owners of the residential property. Its grand appearance, enhanced by the coating of natural stone, can be read as a reference to the waterfronts of the Russian cities of the mid-20th century. The terrace reflects the building's structure, highlighting the stylobate that "Megalit" rests upon. Inside of the stylobate, there is a parking garage and engineering facilities.
In addition to the aforementioned natural stone that is used for decorating the building in its bottom part, the outside façades sport ceramic granite, and the yard façades - colored stucco applied on top of the wall insulate. The "sun tube" recessions and the window apertures of the first floor are glazed; glass is also used for the marquees above the entrances to the ground-floor premises. The railings of the stylobate terrace, as well as the railings of the stairways and ramps are made from stainless steel. The yard is designed as a cascade of different-level terraces that have in them green plants, playgrounds, recreation areas, and the territory of the nursery school.
Wrapping up our story of the building, we cannot omit mentioning the fact that it is not only connected with water - definitely an asset for a housing project - but with woodland as well: quite near, "Kurakina Dacha" park is situated, the territory of the former manor estate of the Kurakin Princes. The location of "Megalit" is also noteworthy for its transportation accessibility: it is but a ten minutes' walk away from the Proletarskaya metro station.
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