INION: the perfect library and a citadel for the lyrical and humanities-minded type
In connection with the current contest for the best project of restoring the INION building, we are publishing a chapter about it taken from an Anna Bronovitskaya and Nikolai Malinin book "Moscow: Architecture of the Soviet Modernism. 1955–1991" that is due to be published by "Garage" Museum in October 2016.
Written by: , Nikolai Malinin Translated by: Anton Mizonov
Right about this time, a contest is underway for the best concept proposal for reconstructing the INION building of the Russian Academy of Science. The contest has been organized by the winner of the tender for the survey and design work on restoring that building – OOO "Project Organization GIPROKON". The seven finalist contest projects were showcased until the 15th of August in the Museum of Architecture (Vozdvizhenka St, 5/25), in the Russian Academy of Science (Leninsky Avenue, 32a), in the building of Moscow State University of Civil Engineering, and in the building of Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (Solyanka St, 14). The winner was to be announced on the 16th of August.
In January 2015, a fine specimen of modernism – the building of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences – was severely damaged by a fire, and its further destiny causes great concern. In order to remind our readers why this building is ever so important for the history of Russian architecture, we are publishing a chapter about it taken from an Anna Bronovitskaya and Nikolai Malinin book "Moscow: Architecture of the Soviet Modernism. 1955–1991" which is due to be published by "Garage" Museum in October 2016.
The Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
Architects: Jacob Belopolsky, E.Vulykh, L.Misozhnikov
Nakhimovsky Avenue, 51/21, Profsoyuznaya Metro Station
The perfect library and a citadel for the lyrical and humanities-minded type - surrounded by institutes of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics…
At the final stage of the building of communism, humanity scholars were supposed to play a role just as important as the natural scientists: the mechanism of the future "perfect society" was to be thought out down to the last detail. The main library of the Department of Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was to significantly expand and update its reserves. In 1960, the design of this high-profile project was commissioned to Jacob Belopolsky whose architectural bureau was at that moment designing the master plan of Moscow's southwest area.
Jacob Belopolsky started with the master plan of the land site: placing the low-rise elongated library building closer to the crossroads, he flanked it with two multistory slabs of science and technology institutes well visible from a distance. The architectural jargon of those days called this technique of creating an architectural ensemble "complementing a bar with stumps". These three volumes, in full accordance with the Corbusier principles, were to be surrounded by a park. The park was separated from the traffic way of the Krasikova Street (Nakhimovsky Avenue) by a long rectangular reservoir. This reservoir performed three functions at once. First of all, it alleviated the height difference between the street and the lowered construction site. Second, its water was used in the building's air conditioning system. And, third, it was a very cool compositional element: the water surface reflected the architecture, and when the fountains were on, it looked like the top of the building was hovering above the ground.
According to the original design, the library's building had a quadratic plan, had a courtyard, and was resting on a broad platform that was thrown across the reservoir and the park's lowland. In reality, however, the platform shrank to the size of a small bridge leading to the main entrance, the reservoir got shorter, now falling short of reaching the foot of the neighboring Central Economic and Mathematical Institute, and, furthermore, only two sides of the quadrant were ultimately built - the corner they formed embraced the would-be courtyard. It was planned that the square would be completed in the second stage of the construction but that never came to pass.
Nevertheless, the authors were able to implement the main points of their concept. The archives and the storerooms are situated in the two bottom floors, while the third, the top one, is entirely occupied by newsrooms and study halls. Having visited a few newly built libraries abroad before getting down to designing his project, the architect hoped that this layout would provide the readers with an easy access to the bookshelves: from the newsroom, subdivided into subject zones, one could easily find his way around to the department he needed, descending the staircase. Alas, the soviet library regulations forbade letting unauthorized persons into the archives. On the other hand, a quick book delivery system was organized - the books were delivered to the librarians' counters by conveyor belts. The delivery process was further sped up by the electromagnetic mail. The manually filled out forms were rolled into tubes, confined into cylindrical containers, and placed into a slot of the corresponding department. The power went on, and, drawn by the electromagnetic field, the container instantly travelled to the required department where all that the employee had left to do was take the books off the shelf and put them on the conveyor belt. Some wizardry!
The nation's main organization that gathered, systematized, and referenced the literature on social sciences was to be a library par excellence housed in a building of a world-class architecture. By the standards of 1960, this allowed for rather broad borrowings from different architectural styles. And, while the master plan and the overall appearance of the building obviously point to the fact that Jacob Belopolsky was influenced by the postwar works of Corbusier (the project of United Nations Headquarters in New York City, 1947, plan of the reconstruction of Saint Dieu, 1945, La Tourette Monastery, 1953–1960), in the interior design he was obviously inspired by the example of Alvar Aalto. Just as was the case with the Vyborg library (1935), the newsrooms are lit by upper lights through circular light bulbs, the only difference being that in the Aalto project there were 57 of them, and Belopolsky had a cool number of 264 – feel the magnitude of the nation's main library!
The architects were able to make both the outside walls and the partitions of the third floor completely glass, thus visually creating a single space. All the furniture in the newsrooms and study halls was low so that nothing would obscure the magnificent sight of ceiling covered in arrays of circular lucarnes. Life, however, immediately made its corrections: the librarians insisted on placing bookshelves with the new publications along the glass walls trying to form a more habitual enclosed working environment.
The authorities' hopes were not justified either. Created on the basis of the library, the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences became not so much the center of achieving the communist dream as the breeding ground for liberal freethinking. But then again, the fresh foreign literature and the coveted "Proceedings of the University of Tartu" were only accessible to the selected few: INION would only serve the members of the Academy. But this circumstance only added to the attractiveness of the library's image as the nursery of the highbrow humanitarian knowledge.
The deplorable state in which the soviet Academy found itself, never being able to adapt itself to the realities of the post-soviet world, lead INION to a tragic end. The worn-out wiring, the malfunctioning fire alarms and firefighting systems lead to a fire that in February of 2015 destroyed most of the unique book stock and did a considerable damage to the building. The city has made a decision to restore it but who exactly will do it, when, and for whose money, is still unclear.
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.
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.
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.
An Office for Concentrating Ideas
T+T Architects have designed an office for a French IT company, where the employees in any point of the premises can discuss with their colleagues new ideas or even write them on the wall.
The Energy Family
The housing complex Symphony 34 will be built in Moscow’s Savelovsky district; it will consist of four towers from 36 to 54 stories high. Each of the towers has an image of its own, but they all are gathered into a single architectural ensemble – a fragment of a new high-rise urban space lying outside the Third Transport Ring.
The Fifth Element
The high-end residential development in the Vsevolozhsky Lane features a combination of expensive stone and metal textures, immersing them into a feast of ornaments. The house looks like a fantasy inspired by the theater of the Art Nouveau and Symbolism era; a kind of oriental fairy tale, which paradoxically allows it to avoid direct stylization and become a reflection of one of the aspects of modern Moscow life.
Springboards and Patios
The central element of the manor house in the village of Antonovka, designed by Roman Leonidov, is the inner yard with pergolas, meant to remind its owner about his vacations in exotic countries. The exposed wooden structures emphasize the soaring diagonals of single-pitched roofs.
Adding Up a Growing City
The housing quarter “1147” is located at the border between the old “Stalin” district in the north and the actively developing territories in the south. Its image responds to a difficult task: the compound brick facades of the neighboring sections are different, their height varying from 9 to 22 floors, and, if we are look from the street, it seems as though the front of the city development, consisting from long narrow elements, is forming some sophisticated array at this very moment in front of our eyes.
Agility of the Modular
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
Polyphony of a Strict Style
The “ID Moskovskiy” housing project on St. Petersburg’s Moscow Avenue was designed by the team of Stepan Liphart in the past 2020. The ensemble of two buildings, joined by a colonnade, is executed in a generalized neoclassical style with elements of Art Deco.
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.
In the Space of Pobedy Park
In the project of a housing complex designed by Sergey Skuratov, which is now being built near the park of the Poklonnaya Hill, a multifunctional stylobate is turned into a compound city space with intriguing “access” slopes that also take on the role of mini-plazas. The architecture of the residential buildings responds to the proximity of the Pobedy Park, on the one hand, “dissolving in the air”, and, on the other hand, supporting the memorial complex rhythmically and color-wise.
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.