​The Rzhevsky Gate

For the competition for the best design of the new station or the Third Interchange Contour, Blank Architects came up with three proposals. Two of them were shortlisted, and one, containing the concept of the “Rzhevskaya” metro station, took the first place. Here we are to take a look at the winning project.

Written by:
Lilya Aronova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

07 August 2017

“Rzhevskaya” metro station that got its name from the nearby railroad station, will soon open on the Rizhskaya Square, between the railway station and the “Rizhskaya” metro station, with which it will be connected by an underpass. This place is historical and symbolic in a certain sense: a long time ago, this place, also known as Krestovskaya Zastava, was one of Moscow’s city entrances. Now, instead of the Kamer-Kollezhsky Val, the square is traversed by the Third Transport Ring but the difference between its inner and outer sides is still clearly visible: on the one side, there is the old Moscow as we know it: Marina Roshcha, Sushchevsky Val, and Gilyarovskogo Street; on the other side, there are railroad tracks, industrial buildings, and the outbound highway of the Mira Avenue that eventually turns into the Yaroslavl Highway. Long gone are the red-brick water towers that stood here until the 1930’s, designed by the architect Maxim Geppner with an exquisite bridge between them, but even today the entrance to the “inner city” section of the Mira Avenue is framed by the towers of Stalin buildings on either side of the street. Thus, the “city gate” concept chosen by Blank Architects makes perfect sense both geographically and historically.

The material implementation of this concept took the form of one of the most ancient architectural archetypes, unique and perfect in its simplicity – an arch. Even The Arch: in reference to the project by Blank Architects, one indeed wants to write this word with a capital “A”. A welcoming symbol of entrance and invitation, this element is many times repeated in the interiors of the platforms and lobbies, gives a rhythmic feeling to the space and closes a lion’s share of the interior design. Its section view clearly shows that the architects chose for the arch a rather sophisticated curvilinear shape. “On the one hand, we wanted to make it tall and dramatic – explains one of the authors of the project, Tatyana Leontyeva – On the other hand, we had to make it all fit in with the existing construction elements: the height of the passage between the platforms cannot exceed 2.5 meters”. Because of this, the arches are turned to the platforms with their monumental portals – the higher one to the central, the lower one to the lateral platforms – and between them there is a smooth curve, the dramatic expressiveness of which the people can only appreciate from the outside where the same shape is encased in a glass box of the overland pavilion like a museum exhibit or a city sculpture which in fact it is.

Designing things sixty meters underground, just like the very genre of transportation architecture, was something that Blank Architects handled for the first time. And this became a serious challenge and an interesting experience for them. “This is what we love competitions for – says the partner of the firm and one of the authors of the project Magda Kmita – They give you an opportunity to try your hand in entirely new architectural formats – we already designed hotels, schools, museums, and now we got our hands on a metro station”. The architects approached the task with all due seriousness – they read a lot of special literature, rode the Moscow metro and visited nearly its every station, and also did quite a bit of research on the world expertise. From the technology standpoint, the architects were able to master and come to grips with some things, some of the challenges – for example, the above-mentioned height restriction of the passage between the platforms – inspired unconventional solutions, and some were to remain bothersome limitations. For example, the authors of the project still lament the fact that, because of the operational complexities, they were unable to apply at least some minimal decoration to the walls and ceilings of the escalator groups, although in terms of a passenger’s average staying time this zone has a huge potential. As far as the general interior design is concerned, it was decided very early on to make it minimalist, without any unnecessary decorations. If we are to speak about some sources of inspiration in this case, Magda Kmita’s favorite station of Moscow metro is Kropotkinskaya – with its monumental “ancient Egypt” colonnade, while Tatyana Leontyeva add “Sokol” and “Airport” to her hit parade. “What these stations have in common is very simple design without any excessive and unnecessary decorative techniques but with a repetition and amplification of one single architectural element, beautifully backlit and setting the rhythm – she explains – And this was the effect that we looked to achieve in our project”.

The main theme of the project is echoed by the intertwined motif of a travel that was inspired by the railway station standing on the square. As for the walls standing along the tracks, the architects plan to paint them with landscapes, but of a somewhat blurred quality – the way that they look from a window of a speeding train car. The traveling theme is supported by the lines on the lobby floors, reminding one of railroad tracks and also serving as a navigation instrument. A convenient navigation system is something that the Moscow metro still lacks – claim the authors of “Rzhevskaya”. In their project, they paid special attention to this issue, alongside the conventional things – such as LED screens, signs, and info points – a large role being given to intuitive navigation. For this reason, for example, the exits from the main platform are designed differently. The western one, through which one exits into the city, meaning, towards the railway station, is marked by a large wall-size interactive multimedia screen that shows the train schedule. As for the opposite exit, it all shines a yellow light – this is a transfer to the “Rizhskaya” metro station with its “amber” pylons (in addition, “Rizhskaya” is situated on the “orange” line of the Moscow metro).

With all the program laconism of the decor, special role is given to the lighting design, including the functional aspect. Again, the architects place their bet on a person’s intuitive reactions: for example, the authors of the project propose to vary the intensity of light in the arches as the train enters the station. Thanks to this, a person, while still on the escalator, will understand that he had better hurry up – the way that we have already learn to get our bearings from the swelling sound of the oncoming train, only now it will be more reliable because it will be clear from which direction the train is approaching. And as for the passengers moving up the escalator, they will gradually find themselves in an ever-lighter environment: this technique will mark that we are moving outdoors, towards the light. In the underground lobbies, the direction of the passenger flows will be prompted by the turning angle of the arches, through which the passengers exit the station, in respect to the direction of movement of those who enter: thanks to this, the flows will be clearly separated.

Having a broad experience of designing shopping centers, Blank Architects know how to attract people to their projects and arouse their interest in order to make them stay longer. Of course, a metro station has a different purpose, not to say a diametrically opposite one – here what you need to do is optimize the traffic as much as you can. Nevertheless, the authors of the project did everything to make the few minutes that a person is going to spend at the “Rzhevskaya” metro station not only comfortable but emotionally satisfying. Examining the blurred landscapes behind the “arch” windows, tracing the junctions of the railroad lines on the floor, and following the change of the digits on the media screen, even the ever-busy morning passenger will be able to get distracted from his worries for a little while. According to Magda Kmita, it was important for the architect to create an environment where even a person that uses this station every day could always discover something new do that his metro ride would become a little trip for him.

The basis of the color set of the station is the exquisite combination of gray marble of the walls and stainless steel adorning the arches, with the warm shade of “rose ash” in the granite covering of the floor. According to the specifications, the decoration materials were to be of Russian origin. Initially, this presented a minor challenge but eventually the architects were able to use this condition to their advantage – they got acquainted with new companies and studied new possibilities of the stone in order to ultimately choose the sturdy and vandal-proof materials that are an absolute must in the conditions of the busy traffic of the metro station.

The overland pavilion of the station which is situated on the territory of a small park squeezed between two automobile roads is inscribed in a small rectangle three by six meters. “We decided to make the walls completely transparent – explains Magda Kmita – We have so much different architecture around – the Rizhsky railway station, the rotunda of the “Rizhskaya” metro station, and the Stalin buildings on the Mira Avenue – hat we decided not to add another landmark. This is why we sort of “dissolved” the pavilion in space, only highlighting our arch”. The authors of the project would want to make the little park, currently all but unused, busier – in their project they propose a landscaping plan that provides for new benches, street lights, and greenery added along the park’s perimeter. Although it must be said that neither the technical specifications nor the budget of the future station provide for any improvement of the adjacent territory but Blank Architects always try to see the project as a whole, not limiting themselves to the dry specifications.

Recently it was announced that the project of “Rzhevskaya” metro station by Blank Architects, just as the project proposal for “Sheremetyevskaya”, made the shortlist or World Architecture Festival 2017 (for readers of Russian). We are still waiting for the results but what is more important is the fact that the implementation of the project is actually coming soon: if everything goes to plan, the first trains will pass through the “Rzhevskaya” metro station as early as in the beginning of 2020.
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station. Axonometric drawing © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects
"Rzhevskaya" metro station © Blank Architects

07 August 2017

Written by:

Lilya Aronova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
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!
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.
Gustave Falconnier
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.
Maximum Flexibility
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.
Parametric Waves
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 Multitone
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.