​House on an Island

Made of stone yet transparent, boasting columns yet of modern design – Anatoly Stolyarchuk designed this unusual house for Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Island.

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:
Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

13 July 2017

The Krestovsky Island is a point of attraction for Saint Petersburg’s developers and architects. Not so long ago it was a “park” island, still a little bit later on – a “stadium” one. Today, this is arguably the island of the city’s most expensive real estate. The west side retained its democratic quality: its amusement parks, greenery, and finally-opened “Zenith-Arena” continue to draw crowds. The east side is strikingly different: uncommonly deserted quiet streets, closed yards, and low-rise houses with dramatic architecture.

Over the last decade, this place has seen works by many popular architectural companies, and one will have a hard time finding a house that did not win an award of some kind at one point in time. If not unlimited, the budget allows for a lot of things: top-quality materials of the gigantic griffins, glass-covered “greenhouse” boulevards, and marinas placed right next to hallways. In addition, the Krestovsky Island is not encumbered by the architectural context – there are few housing projects here, most of the buildings standing independently, surrounded by greenery. So it comes all the more surprising that the new houses that appear here are not at all on the fancy side. At the same time, taking a walk here is quite an interesting thing to do: you will see a living study of contemporary architectural techniques and experiments.

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau
Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

The quiet Esperova Street, upon which the house designed by Anatoly Stolyarchuk is situated, is tucked away into the east side of the island. The trapeze-shaped land side is situated on the “second line’ away from the water, immediately behind the “Venetia” house designed by Eugene Gerasimov, and is shared by the house designed by the architectural bureau of Anatoly Stolyarchuk and the Esper Club residential complex built upon the project of Intercolomnium. Together, they form a closed square that will provide for the perimeter housing of the land site. Other neighbors: the club complex “Diadema Club House” built upon the project of “Zemtsov, Kondiayn & Partners” villas built for the judges of the Constitutional Courst, and the “Spartacus” swimming complex built back in 1972, now turned into a dolphinarium.

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

Placed in such surroundings, the architects of Anatoly Stolyarchuk bureau set for themselves a task of building a house looking different from its neighbors. “Trying to imitate any architectural styles or the architectural language of the surrounding houses would get us nowhere – says Anatoly Stolyarchuk – the end result of taking this path in most cases will look rather pathetic”. The client did not try to force any stylistic solutions upon the architects either, which ultimately allowed them to create this simple yet graceful house.

According to the architect, its façade is “a totally monochromatic wall, very much like a backdrop devoid of any accents, perforated with windows”. Nevertheless, the wall looks anything but monotonous: the wide backfalls of the French balconies, alternating in a staggered order with regular windows in the frames of the large squares of the façade grid, make the plastique of the building rather active and sophisticated. It even seems at first that the rhythm of the wall is somewhat chaotic, and only later it curiously dawns on you that this is not the case. The predominant material of the façade is light-colored stone but the inserts of terra-cotta panels form an elaborate response to the brick surface of the neighboring “Venice”, while the thin ribs of the façade grid echo the vertical thrusts and neo-gothic cantilevered structures of the Evgeny Podgornov house.

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

The two right angles of the house are rounded with wide arcs: here the balconies disappear, and the tall floor-to-ceiling windows get backfalls, their rhythm becoming denser. Set in one direction, the откосы accentuate the turnaround very much like the teeth of a giant gear - and the house looks as if it was made of plasticine. The third broad angle of about 120 degrees is set by the turn of the Esperova Street. Here the street meets the alley of the same name, leading towards the river; at the junction of the three streets, a mini-square appears. It is here that the building’s main entrance situated, commanding a view of the Neva; the entrance provides access to the inner yard, and is marked on the level of the first floor by a recessed balcony resting on two pillars. Higher up, the windows are designed in the same way as on the other two turns, only here, instead of uniting them into groups of three, the architects united five vertical rows - the wall is ostentatiously “stretched out” at the bend.

Residential house on the Esperova Street. Development drawing along the Esperova Street, view from the northwest side © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

Residential house on the Esperova Street. Top: Development drawing along the Esperova Street, view from the northeast Bottom: Development drawing along the Esperova and Solnechnaya streets, view from the northwest side © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural

The house is of a totally residential kind; it consists of four six-floor sections with one tier of an underground parking garage that occupies the whole of the construction blueprint, the inside yard being its roof. Stretching along the Vakulenchuk Street, the western section of the building is occupied by apartments, and the rest of it is occupied by smaller flats, with 2 to 4 of them on each floor, from 50 to 220 square meters.

On the Esperova Street, the first floor is on the brink of the building red line; it is slit with comparatively small windows, and can be perceived as a basement floor. The grand entrance, as we remember, is designed as a large cantilevered cutaway resting on two pillars. On the northeast side, the only one where the house doesn't have either building front or a red line, adjoining a natural green zone, the architects turned the first floor into a gallery: broad stained window glasses hide here behind an array of coupled round-section supports, which immediately puts one in the mind of “red dorika” by Ivan Fomin.

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

The top sixth floor recedes from the red line but from the rear side this recession is smaller, and is covered by a thin array of pylons supporting the rhythm of the façade, while from the river side, upon the demand by the Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks, the stained glass band recedes deep inside, about five meters, and forms a wide terrace commanding fine river views for three penthouses on the north part of the building. On this side, the house got a moderately profiled cornice protruding outwards – what it does is it simultaneously “stops” the height of the building, concealing the sixth floor, and continues, though not literally, the cornice line of the Evgeny Podgornov house. The height of the Anatoly Stolyarchuk house up to the cornice is 18 meters; the total height (including the utility floors) is 23 meters.

Residential house on the Esperova Street. Development drawing along the Vakulenchuka Street, view from the southwest side © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

The side walls of the two houses are joined together – which is a rare construction practice in general but a typical type of Saint Petersburg. In its adjacent or “bridging” places, the house, designed by Anatoly Stolyarchuk, gives up its agility, opting for marking the transition in a more laconic way: namely, with a stained glass window that articulates and at the same time softens the joints between the houses of fundamentally different architecture. On the Esperova Street, the stained glass overhangs above the drive-through arch; on the side of the dead-end Vakenchuk Street, the end-to-end glass surface is only slit by a cornice that makes one recall textbook examples of postmodernism. The laconism of the “bridging” fragments spills over into the yard: the giant surfaces of the stained glasses are framed with flat frames and separated by towers of the stairway and elevator units, and are only livened up by a row of vertical “portholes” – the windows of the first floor and a gallery, now resting on single round supports that mirror on the inside the outside gallery of the northeast façade.

Residential house on the Esperova Street © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

“The architectural solution that we found will only be effective on one condition – high-quality expensive materials and flawless execution” – Anatoly Stolyarchuk stresses. Indeed, this house seems like a result of a combination of conditions that are relatively rare by today’s standards: the comparatively favorable realtor situation of the Krestovsky Island, a low-rise height, the existing restrictions, and the over-saturated surroundings – all this is conducive to working with details. This house is of the “ambient” type, yet its details have been carefully worked out. It is the instant of contextual modernism that requires too-quality execution and expensive details –the French windows or the natural stone. This genre was highly developed in the 2000’s, and then it died away together with the market demand; indeed, from the social standpoint, it cannot draw much sympathy, but from the aesthetic standpoint it can – one can watch such houses on and on looking for new combinations of well-known techniques. So, one way or another, one would like to see this genre develop and grow.
Residential house on the Esperova Street. Plan of the 1st floor © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau
Residential house on the Esperova Street. Plan of the 2nd floor © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau
Residential house on the Esperova Street. Section view 1-1 © Anatoly Stolyarchuk architectural bureau

13 July 2017

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:

Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
The Chinese Symphony
The construction of the Chinese center “Huaming Park” has been a long story that came to fruition relatively recently. The building is adjacent to a traditional Chinese garden, but it is very modern, laconic and technological, and the simple-in-form, yet spectacular, white lamellae promise to someday be incorporated as a media facade. This complex is also truly multifunctional: it contains different types of living spaces, offices, a large fitness center, conference halls and restaurants – all wrapped in one volume. You can comfortably hold international forums in it, having everything you may possibly need at your fingertips, and going outside only to take a walk. In this article, we are examining this complex in detail.
Ensemble of Individualities
Construction of the first phase of the INDY Towers multifunctional complex on Kuusinen Street, designed by Ostozhenka, has started. The project opens new angles of similarity between the column and the skyscraper, and we examine the nuances and parallels.
Black and Red
Kazakov Grand Loft received its name for a reason: responding to the client’s brief and proceeding from the historical industrial architecture of its immediate surroundings, Valery Kanyashin and Ostozhenka architects proposed a new version of a modern house designed in the fashionable “loft” style. What makes this building different is the fact that the bricks here are dark gray, and the facades of the romantic “fortress” towers blossom with magnificent glazing of the windows in the upper part. The main highlight of the complex, however, is the multiple open air terraces situated on different levels.
Icy Hospitality
Mezonproject has won the national architectural and town planning competition for designing a hotel and a water recreation center in the city of Irkutsk. The architects chose hummocks of Baikal ice as a visual image.
The Mastery of Counterpoint
In the sculpture of Classical Greece, counterpoint was first invented: the ability to position the human body as if it were about to take a step, imbuing it with a hint of the energy of future movement, and with hidden dynamics. For architecture, especially in the 20th century and now, this is also one of the main techniques, and the ATRIUM architects implement it diligently, consistently – and always slightly differently. The new residential complex “Richard” is a good example of such exploration, based on the understanding of contrasts in the urban environment, which was fused into the semblance of a living being.
Countryside Avant-Garde
The project of the museum of Aleksey Gastev, the ideologist of scientific organization of work, located in his hometown of Suzdal, is inscribed in multiple contexts: the contest of a small town, the context of avant-garde design, the context of “lean production”, and the context of the creative quest of Nikolai Lyzlov’s minimalist architecture – and it seems to us that this project even reveals a distant memory of the fact that Aleksey Gastev learned his craft in France.
On the Hills
In the project by Studio 44, the “distributed” IT campus of Nizhny Novgorod is based on well-balanced contracts. Sometimes it is hovering, sometimes undulating, sometimes towering over a rock. For every task, the architects found appropriate form and logic: the hotels are based on a square module, the academic buildings are based on a “flying” one, and so on. Modernist prototypes, specifically, Convent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, stand next to references to the antique Forum and the tower of a medieval university – as well as next to contextual allusions that help inscribe the buildings of the future campus into the landscape of the city hills with their dominants, high slopes, breathtaking river views, the historical city center, and the Nizhny Novgorod University.
The Magic Carpet
The anniversary exhibition of Totan Kuzembaev’s drawings named “Event Horizons” shows both very old drawings made by the architect in the formative 1980’s, and now extracted from the Museum of Architecture, as well as quite a few pictures from the “Weightlessness” series that Totan Kuzembaev drew specifically for this exhibition in 2023. It seemed to us that the architect represented reality from the point of view of someone levitating in space, and sometimes even upside down, like a magic carpet with multiple layers.
​A Copper Step
Block 5, designed by ASADOV architects as part of the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex, is at the same time grand-scale, conspicuous thanks to its central location – and contextual. It does not “outshout” the solutions used in the neighboring buildings, but rather gives a very balanced implementation of the design code: combining brick and metal in light and dark shades and large copper surfaces, orthogonal geometry on the outside and flexible lines in the courtyard.
The Light for the Island
For the first time around, we are examining a lighting project designed for a housing complex; but then again, the authors of the nighttime lighting of the Ostrov housing complex, UNK lighting, proudly admit that this project is not just the largest in their portfolio, but also the largest in this country. They describe their approach as a European one, its chief principles being smoothness of transitions, comfort to the eye, and the concentration of most of the light at the “bottom” level – meaning, it “works” first of all for pedestrians.
Spots of Light
A new housing complex in Tyumen designed by Aukett Swanke is a very eye-pleasing example of mid-rise construction: using simple means of architectural expression, such as stucco, pitched roofs, and height changes, the architects achieve a “human-friendly” environment, which becomes a significant addition to the nearby park and forest.
Ledges and Swirls
The housing complex “Novaya Zarya” (“New Dawn”) designed by ASADOV Architects will become one of the examples of integrated land development in Vladivostok. The residential area will be characterized by various typologies of its housing sections, and a multitude of functions – in addition to the social infrastructure, the complex will include pedestrian promenades, shopping malls, office buildings, and recreational facilities. The complex is “inscribed” in a relief with a whopping 40-meter height difference, and overlooks the Amur Bay.
Agglomeration on an Island
Recently, an approval came for the master plan of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration, which was developed by a consortium headed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow. The document provides for the creation of 12 clusters, the totality of which will give the region a qualitative leap in development and make the island more self-sufficient, more accessible, and less dependent on the mainland. We are inviting you to examine the details.
Ivan Grekov: “A client that wants to make a building that is “about architecture” is...
In this article, we are talking to Ivan Grekov, the leader of the architectural company KAMEN (translates as “stone”), the author of many high-profile projects that have been built in Moscow in the recent years, about the history of his company, about different approaches to form making, about different meanings of volume and facade, and about “layers” in working with the environment – at the example of two projects by Osnova Group. These are the MIRAPOLIS complex on the Mira Avenue in Rostokino, whose construction began at the end of last year, and the multifunctional complex in the 2nd Silikatny Proezd on the Zvenigorodsky Highway; recently, it received all the required approvals.
Grasping and Formulating
The special project “Tezisy” (“Abstracts”), showcased at Arch Moscow exhibition in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, brought together eight young “rock stars of architecture”, the headliner being Vladislav Kirpichev, founder of the EDAS school. In this article, we share our impressions of the installations and the perspectives of the new generation of architects.
The White Tulip
Currently, there are two relevant projects for the Great Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, which was transferred to a land site in Admiralteiskaya Sloboda in February. One of them, designed by TsLP, was recently showcased at Arch Moscow. In this article, we are covering another project, which was proposed during the same period for the same land site. Its author is Aleksey Ginzburg, the winner of the 2022 competition, but now the project is completely different. Today, it is a sculptural “flower” dome symbolizing a white tulip.
ATRIUM’s Metaverse
The architectural company ATRIUM opened a gallery of its own in a metaverse. Inside, one can examine the company’s approach and main achievements, as well as get some emotional experience. The gallery is already hosting cyberspace business meetings and corporate events.
​From Darkness to Light
Responding to a lengthy list of limitations and a lengthy – by the standards of a small building – list of functions, Vladimir Plotkin turned the project of the Novodevichy Monastery into a light, yet dynamic statement of modern interpretation of historical context, or, perhaps, even interpretation of light and darkness.
Modernism in Avant-Garde
The contest proposal that Studio 44 made for the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater is bright in all senses, and in many ways even provocative – just like a modern theater performance should be. Being in context with modern culture, it even shocks you in some respects. At first, you are amazed at the red color that is present all around, and then you gradually make sense of the picturesque congregation of volumes that share a multitude of functions. And it’s only later that you realize that this conglomerate conceals a modernist building, most of which the architects save intact.
The Black Mountain
The project of reconstructing the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet theater developed by Wowhaus, which won the competition, proposed a total demolition and new construction, as well as considerable expansion (up to 8 floors) – and transformable multifunctional spaces. The new project, however, does retain the recognizable elements and the image of the old theater. As for the main spectator hall, it is turned – figuratively speaking, of course – into a semblance of a black volcano.
Recently, Moscow saw the presentation of a project by Yuri Grigoryan, devoted to turning the truck garage on Novoryazanskaya Street, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, into the Museum of Moscow Transport. The project involves restoring the monument of architecture, adding a new underground floor and a new entrance, as well as a whole park. The implementation is already underway.
Houses by the Lakeside
Approvals came for the project of a housing complex that DNK ag designed in Kazan. The complex is low-rise; its sections are designed as separate volumes united by a common podium. Everything is very much like DNK: delicate and sometimes even lyrical, especially where the yard meets the lakeshore.
Exemplary Adaptation
In Novosibirsk, the construction of a school has been completed, whose project is standing every chance to set a new standard for the nation’s educational institutions. SVESMI Architects and Brusnika company started by developing the brief that would answer the modern teaching practices, and then they proposed the optimum plan, versatile classrooms, and reserved, yet expressive, image in the spirit of this Amsterdam alliance.
Terra Incognita
An 800-room hotel complex, designed by Ginzburg Architects, offers the seaside city of Anapa a fragment of well-organized urban environment that keeps up the cultural spirit of the place. The architects break away from traditional white facades, turning to the antique and even archaic periods of the history of this land, and drawing inspiration in the color of red clay and simple, yet lightweight, shapes.
In Plumage Colors
Working on the facades of a mid-rise residential area in Odintsovsky district, GENPRO architects “adjusted” a number of features of the volumetric composition, which they received without the right to make any changes to, by purely “decorative” means, such as ornamental brickwork, including glazed bricks and the rhythm of the windows. Interestingly, the starting point in the search for the color code was the plumage of birds that are found in the Moscow region.
Julius Borisov: “The “Island” housing complex is a unique project – we took it on with...
One of the largest housing projects of today’s Moscow – the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex built by Donstroy – is now being actively built in the Mnevniky Floodplain. They are planning to build about 1.5M square meters of housing on an area of almost 40 hectares. We are beginning to examine this project– first of all, we are talking to Julius Borisov, the head of the architectural company UNK, which works with most of the residential blocks in this grand-scale project, as well as with the landscaping part; the company even proposed a single design code for the entire territory.
A Balanced Solution
The residential complex “Balance” on Moscow’s Ryazansky Prospekt is one of the large-scale, and relatively economical (again, by Moscow standards) housing projects. Its first phase has already been built and landscaped; the work on the others is in progress. Nevertheless, it has an integral internal logic, which is based on the balance of functions, height, and even image and space composition. The proposed solutions are recognizable and laconic, so that each of them was reduced by the authors to a graphic “logo”. To see everything, you have to flip through the pages and look through to the end.
Horror Vacui
In the city of Omsk, ASADOV architects took on a very challenging task: they are developing a concept of a public and residential complex, which involves reconstructing the city’s first thermal power station standing right next to Omsk’s first fortress. This territory has already seen a lot of projects designed for it, and the residential function of this land site has been the subject of heated debate. In this article, we are examining the project in question, aimed at developing a mid-scale city fabric suited for the historical center. We also examine the above-mentioned debate. Seriously, will this project save this place or will it bring it to ruin?
A Multi-Faced Grotto
This building, seemingly small, unremarkable, semi-ruined, and not even very ancient – the Grotto in the Bauman Garden – was restored by the “People’s Architect” architectural company with all the care applicable to a heritage monument. They preserved the romantic appeal of the ruins, added multimedia content, and explored the cascading fountain, which, as it turned out, was completely preserved. Brace yourself for a long story!