Rigorous prescriptions of the customer’s corporate style did not stop T+T Architects from coming up with individual solutions for the Moscow office of the French company Orange Business Services.
Written by: Anna Starostina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
08 February 2017
At a first glance, the task of designing the new Moscow office of the international connection provider promised to be quite standard: two floors of a modern business center, a usual set of functional zones, and a classic open space that includes dedicated areas for communication and secluded work; the habitual European democracy of style, reserved and comfortable for employees of any age and lifestyle. The minutely detailed brand book left very little room for experiment. Nonetheless, the 5300 square meters of office premises turned out to be quite capable of housing a few custom-designed solutions, and the place took on a functional yet highly individual character.
For its new office, the management of Orange Business Services picked the 10th and 11th floors of Mercury City Tower in “Moscow City” business center. On the plan, each of them remotely resembles a sketchy drawing of a rocket. The resulting striking-looking chamfers became one of the most important elements of the entire inside space but achieving the maximum planning efficiency in such conditions was by no means an easy task. The architects chose a habitual and, given the circumstances, the only possible option: a massive nucleus with all expected engineering lines is surrounded by a single-chunk open space stretching along the entire light front. Due to the fact that the customer, while still at the initial specifications stage, had a very clear vision of the way different subdivisions and departments of the company would interact with one another, they all are aligned into a single chain, so that, upon entering the office, any task is promptly routed through the necessary solution stages, smoothly flowing from one department to another. At the same time, each of these departments remains quite a self-sufficient operating unit with its own zones for communication, brainstorming, recreation, and dedicated work.
However, what got in the way of the intended organization of the workflows was the absence of internal connection between the two floors: the public staircase and the overloaded elevators of the high-rise fell short of providing the necessary level of interaction between the divisions. “We at once thought of building an extra private staircase – shares the chief architect of the project Polina Voevodina – Luckily, the two floors had openings in the intermediate floor, and we were able to get the owners’ permission for the construction of a staircase. We considered many options and ultimately settled for a monolith chunk of concrete. From the very start, we planned to leave the material exposed, only covering it with a layer of protective varnish, and thus we paid a lot of attention to the quality of the material and execution. Our contractor stood by his performance, and we got it exactly the way we wanted it”. The architects turned the exposed concrete surfaces into an aesthetic stylistic device, adding a micro cement wall right behind the reception desk.
The metallic grid railings complete the “loft” image of the staircase. This device is also supported in the other areas of the office. As a result, the custom-designed object became the true meaningful center of the entire space – and it is deservedly surrounded by the main communication and recreation zone where all the employees and visitors can get together. The kitchen, the coffee point, and the conference hall are also located nearby.
The extended working areas (there is a total of some 500 employees working in the company’s Moscow office with no VIP area whatsoever for the top management) required special attention to the issues of soundproofing and acoustic comfort. In addition to the floor coverage and furniture screens, the architects actively used cloth-lined partitions, as well as special furniture. Tall “protected” armchairs and sofas are mostly installed along the window line, and, seated in one of them, one can get completely detached from what is going on in the office.
Quite expectedly, the decoration of all the zones uses the corporate orange color and the square logo. However, they are used in an unobtrusive way: stripes on the carpeting, the opaque pattern on the partitions, soft furniture panels, the storage locker doors, and, finally, a special construction mounted on the ceiling above the reception area. At the same time, in the recreation areas the architects introduced other colors as well. Combinations of orange not only with gray but also with violet, red, pale blue, and yellow, were also specified in the corporate brand book but for each of the zones the architects came up with a unique limited set of color combinations. And as for the abundance of squares, the architects set it off with circles of every possible kind. Besides the staircase, the soft rounded shapes were given to the colored inserts in the floor coverage, lights, and pieces of furniture. All this helped to liven up the all-too-reserved color range and the stiff orthogonality of the design solutions.
Yet another challenge was a very tight schedule of the project. Making it within the designated half-year term was possible thanks to the design&build plan that required close cooperation between the architects and the general designer and general contractor – the Pridex company. “Deciding to leave all the engineering lines exposed, we took a certain risk in terms of the quality of our performance – says Polina Voevodina – but thanks to our partners’ special attention to the appearance and the routing of the engineering lines, as well as some specific units and junctions, it all worked out really great!”
Inside of a Drawn Grid
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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
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This Beetle Has Flown
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The Childhood Territory
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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.
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The Red Building
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The Uplifting Effect
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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
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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
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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
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Polyphony of a Strict Style
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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
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