Made of stone yet transparent, boasting columns yet of modern design – Anatoly Stolyarchuk designed this unusual house for Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Island.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
First among Equals
The building of a kindergarten in the town of Beloyarsky is more than just another example of a modern educational space. Its design began a long time ago; it is located in Russia’s Far North; it is also a state-owned facility that is subject to regulations, and had to cut costs during construction (as usual). However, the design is contemporary, the layout is modern, and the building feels very fresh. The project is planned to be replicated.
In the “ruin” wing of Moscow’s Museum of Architecture, an exhibition of “glass bricks” by Gustave Falconnier is open. These “bricks” are essentially the predecessors of glass blocks, but more complex and beautiful. The exhibition shows genuine “bricks”, buildings composed of them, the history of the destruction of Falconnier windows in the building of the State Archives, and it also became one of the reasons to revive this unique production technology.
Streamline for City Canyons
Stepan Liphart has designed two houses for two small land sites situated in the area surrounding the Varshavsky Railway Station, which is being intensively developed now. The sites are situated close but not next to each other, and they are different, yet similar: the theme is the same but it is interpreted in different ways. In this issue, we are examining and comparing both projects.
The Eastern Frontier
“The Eastern Arc” is one of the main land resources of Kazan’s development, concentrated in the hands of a single owner. The Genplan Institute of Moscow has developed a concept for the integrated development of this territory based on an analytical transport model that will create a comfortable living environment, new centers of attraction, and new workplaces as well.
A School of Our Time
On the eve of the presentation of the new book by ATRIUM, dedicated to the design of schools and other educational facilities, based on the architects’ considerable experience, as well as expert judgments, we are examining the Quantum STEM school building, constructed according to their project in Astana. Furthermore, this building is planned to be the first one to start a new chain. The architects designed it in full accordance with modern standards but sometimes they did break away from them – only to confirm the general development rules. For example, there are two amphitheaters in the atrium, and there is an artificial hill in the yard that is meant to make the flat terrain of the Kazakhstan steppe more eventful.
The Fluffy Space
Designing the passenger terminal of the Orenburg airport, ASADOV architects continue to explore the space theme that they first introduced in Saratov and Kemerovo airports. At the same time, the architects again combine the global and the local, reflecting topics inspired by the local conceptual context. In this case, the building is “covered” by an Orenburg downy shawl – an analogy that is recognizable enough, yet not literal; some will see the reference and some won’t.
The White Fitness Center
The white health and fitness center, designed by Futura Architects at the entrance to St. Petersburg’s New Piter residential complex, provides the developing area not only with functional but also with sculptural diversity, livening up the rows of the brick city blocks with the whiteness of its seamless facades, cantilevered structures, and dynamic inclined lines.
The New Dawn
In their project of a technology park to be built on the grounds of “Integrated Home-Building Factory 500” in Tyumen Oblast – the biggest in Russia – the HADAA architects preserve not just the industrial function of the giant hangar built in the late 1980s and 90% of its structures, but also respond to its imagery. They also propose a “gradient” approach to developing the available areas: from open public ones to staff-only professional spaces. The goal of this approach is to turn the technology park into the driver for developing the business function between the industrial zones and the future residential area in accordance with the Integrated Land Development program.
Tame Hills for New Residents
T+T Architects have reported that they have completed the landscaping project for the yard of the first stage of Alexandrovsky Garden housing complex in Ekaterinburg – the landscape complements the contextual architecture, tailored for the buyers’ preferences and downtown standards, with bold neo modernist master strokes and lush and diverse vegetation.
The Crystal of the City Block
The typology and plastique of large housing complexes move with the times, and you can sometimes find new subtleties in the scope of seemingly familiar solutions. The Sky Garden complex combines two well-known themes, forming a giant residential area consisting of tall slender towers, placed at the perimeter of a large yard, in which a crossroads of two pedestrian promenades is “dissolved”.
Sunshine, Air, and Water
The construction of the “Solnechny” (“Sunny”) summer camp, designed by ARENA project institute, has been completed, the largest summer camp within the legendary Artek seaside resort for children. It was conceived still in Soviet time, but it was not implemented. The modern version surprises you with sophisticated engineering solutions that are combined with a clear-cut structure: together, they generate Asher-esque spaces.
Art Deco at the Edge of Space
The competition project by Stepan Liphart – a high-end residential complex executed in a reserved classicist style in close proximity to the Kaluga Space Museum – responds equally well to the context and to the client’s brief. It is moderately respectable, moderately mobile and transparent, and it even digs a little into the ground to comply with strict height restrictions, without losing proportions and scale.
A Hill behind the Wall
The master plan of a new residential area in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, developed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow with the participation of Kengo Kuma & Associates, is based on the complexities and advantages of the relief of the foothills: the houses are arranged in cascades, and multi-level improvement penetrates all the blocks, continuing in forest trails.
Going, Going, Gone!
The housing complex “Composers’ Residences” has been built in accordance with the project by Sergey Skuratov, who won the international competition back in 2011. It all began from the image search and “cutting off all spare”, and then implementing the recognizable Skuratov architecture. It all ended, however, in tearing down the buildings of the Schlichterman factory, whose conservation was stipulated by all the appropriate agencies prior to approving Skuratov’s project. This story seems to be educational and important for understanding the history of all the eleven years, during which the complex was designed and built.
The Life of Iron
The building of the Vyksa Metallurgy Museum, designed by Nikita Yavein and Sergey Padalko, provides for the natural aging of metal – it is planned that the iron will gradually rust – at the same time utilizing the advanced type of construction, based on metal’s ability to stretch. The building will be constructed from pipes and rolled steel supplied by OMK company, as well as from recycled bricks.
And the Brook is Flowing
ASADOV Architects have designed a master plan for developing a residential area at the outskirts of Kaliningrad: a regular grid of housing blocks is enriched by large-scale public facilities, the main “artery” of the new area being the fortification channel that regains its original function.
Off We Go!
The new terminal of the Tomsk airport is being designed by ASADOV bureau. The architects keep on developing its identity, building the imagery upon the inventions of Nikolai Kamov, whose name the airport bears. The result is laconic, light, and, as always, levitating.
The Multispace Dinamo, which recently opened within the Arena business center, is an example of a project that is entirely based upon cutting-edge approaches and technologies. It is managed via a mobile application, special software was created for it, and the spaces are not just multifunctional but carefully mixed up, like some kind of jigsaw puzzle that allows the office workers to mix their working routine for better efficiency.
A Factory’s Path
Last week, the new center for constructivist studies “Zotov” hosted its first exhibition named “1922. Constructivism. The Inception”. The idea of creating this center belongs to Sergey Tchoban, while the project of the nearest houses and adjusting the building of the bread factory for the new museum function was done by the architect in collaboration with his colleagues from SPEECH. We decided that such a complex project should be examined in its entirety – and this is how we came up with this long-read about constructivism on Presnya, conservation, innovation, multilayered approach, and hope.
The Savelovsky Axis
The business center, situated right in the middle of a large city junction next to the Savelovsky Railway Station takes on the role of a spatial axis, upon which the entire place hinges: it spins like a spiral, alternating perfect glass of the tiers and deep recessions of inter-tier floors that conceal little windows invented by the architects. It is sculptural, and it claims the role of a new city landmark, in spite of its relatively small height of nine floors.
In the housing complex Sydney City, which FSK Group is building in the area of Shelepikhinskaya Embankment, Genpro designed the central city block, combining parametric facades and modular technology within its architecture.
The new interior of the Action Development headquarters can be regarded as an attempt to design the perfect “home” for the company – not just comfortable but broadcasting the values of modern development. It responds to the context, yet it is built on contrast, it is fresh but cozy, it is dynamic, yet it invites you to relax – everything of this coexists here quite harmoniously, probably because the architects found an appropriate place for each of the themes.
Refinement No Longer Relevant
A few days ago journalists were shown the building of Bread Factory #5, renovated upon the project by Sergey Tchoban. In this issue, we are publishing Grigory Revzin’s thoughts about this project.
The Comb of Strelna
In this issue, we are taking a close look at the project that won the “Crystal Daedalus” award – the “Veren Village” housing complex in Strelna, designed by Ostozhenka. Its low-rise format became a trigger for typological and morphological experiments – seemingly, we are seeing recognizable trends, yet at the same time there are a multitude of subtleties that are a pleasure to go into. Having studied this project in detail, we think that the award is well-deserved.
A Tectonic Shift
For several years now, Futura Architects have been working with the “New Peter” residential area in the south of St. Petersburg. In this article, we are covering their most recent project – a house, in which the architects’ architectural ideas peacefully coexist with the limitations of comfort-class housing, producing a “multilayered” effect that looks very attractive for this typology.
Three “Green” Stories
In this issue, we are examining three environmental urban projects showcased by the Genplan Institute of Moscow at the Zodchestvo festival. The scale of the projects is really diverse: from gathering information and suggestions from the residents on a city scale to growing meadow grass between houses to paintings, which, as it turned out, possess power to cure trees, healing their wounded bark. + a list of kinds of plants natural for Moscow to help the developer.