Ekaterinburg’s high-rise residential complex “Malevich” forms around itself a semblance of a comfortable oasis amidst a harsh industrial city. Viewable from virtually every conceivable angle, the self-sufficient architecture designed by “OSA” was able to tackle all the hereditary problems of this place and make a huge deal of positive difference.
Written by: Anna Starostina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
26 October 2017
The land site which was hitherto occupied by a bus storage facility was far from being the perfect place for residential construction for a number of reasons: its surroundings include the local railroad station, the Transsib pipeline, a large tram hub with a depot, and the traffic-overloaded Kosmonavtov Avenue that connects Ekaterinburg’s downtown area with the Uralmash district. All around, there are industrial parks, warehouses, and a water main that runs through the whole area from end to end. It seemed at first that meeting all the noise requirements and creating a comfortable lining environment in such surroundings was downright impossible. However, the proximity to the historical center of the city and the developed transportation infrastructure were enough to make the developer go through with the project and look for ways to solve the multiple issues. “Initially, we were very surprised ourselves just why our client would want to build a housing complex in such a place – it seemed to us that nobody would want to live here – shares the leader of the project, Evgeny Volkov – And now this place really came alive and even many of the employees of our firm bought apartments in the “Malevic” complex. And we would like to believe that to a large extent we deserve some credit for that”.
In order to address all the challenges, the architects quite unexpectedly refrained from implementing the closed-circuit layout, which almost became a cliché nowadays, and designed four “pencil” towers (one of them 33 stories high, the other 26 each), placing them in a loose manner in respect to one another. By doing that, the architects were able to solve the insolation issues, and avoid the impression of a “closed circuit” – the sky can be now seen from virtually any vantage point. At the same time, from the side of the railroad, the territory is fenced off by two parking lots. Plus – the broad podiums of the towers, which house the public spaces, shops, a fitness center, and even the office of the PRINZIP developers – all this put together helps to form a cozy vehicle-free yard, with greenery and a modern children’s playground.
The contrastive and bright color solution based on alternation of white and colored façades sets the complex apart against the background of its rather bleak surroundings, and turns it into a town-planning accent clearly viewable from the railroad station side. The colored facets, turned differently in respect to the cardinal points, help to better perceive each of the volumes and make the composition more dynamic because it constantly changes depending on the position of the sun, ambient light, and the weather. The plastique of the façades is also created by the play of colors: at the red, yellow, green, and orange sides, some of the window apertures are grouped in twos and are highlighted in white; on the white sides it’s the other way around. Picturesquely scattered, there vertical and horizontal ledges and cutaways bring maximum diversity to the image of the complex, supporting the freedom of the overall composition and really put one in the mind of suprematist paintings. And even the balconies (and here each apartment has one) avoided the fate of being placed in a vertical row like the habitual boring “thermometer” pattern on the façade. At some places they turn out to be on a level with the main surface of the wall, and are virtually invisible from the outside, in some places they are sunken in, and at some places they actively protrude, enhancing the plastique play. And only the open overpass stanzas set the rigorous verticals on the north façades.
“Malevich” from the very start was marketed as a relatively inexpensive and accessible housing complex, hence the choice of the cost-efficient technology of a “wet façade” and smart slicing of the floors into relatively small apartments. On the plan, every tower is essentially an equilateral square, which, as the architects share, is rather an exception than a rule by Ekaterinburg’s standards. “For some reason, this city has always been fond of round houses, and, even if the house did have a square plan, it inevitably had rounded corners, balconies, or something like that – Evgeny Volkov explains – The thing is that in such “pinpoint” buildings as ours, when you have to slice the floor into small-sized apartments, you often run into difficulties with making your corner rooms accessible: in order to get to one, you need either a long corridor or a pass-through room. Either of the two solutions is unpopular with the customers, and this is why the designers usually try to increase the area of the lateral apartments and decrease the area of the corner ones, hence the “melted” rounded plan of the building. Our four “pencils”, however, do not have a single curve in them – only straight lines and right angles – and all the planning issues are solved by more subtle “nonlinear” planning ideas and smart inside zoning”. Meanwhile, the layout of the standard floor is truly effective: a compressed stairway nucleus, small corridors left and right of the elevator with emergency evacuation through the elevator hall, and the smartly configured residential cells, which, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, come together to form the desired perfect square.
“We were simultaneously working on two similar-type housing complexes “Kamenny Ruchei” (“Stone Creek”) and “Malevich” – says the managing director of “OSA”, Stanislav Belykh – But the similar tasks that we had were handled by us in completely different manners: in the former case we did it by using a rigid orthogonal composition and a maximally reserved color solution, while in the latter case we did it in a more dramatic manner, with “scattered” high-rise volumes, and color as the key player in the composition. Such a versatile approach to one and the same problem is often applied in our company because it allows us to delve deeper into the situation and better satisfy the needs of the developer and the end consumer”.
The Possibility of Flight
The project of the airport, which ASADOV Architects developed for the city of Tobolsk, and which won in the architectural competition, was not implemented. However, it is interesting as an example of designing an airport building of a very small scale, where the main challenge is the optimal organization of space and infrastructure without compromising the imagery component.
Built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow area, the “Turgeneva 13” housing complex, while fitting in with the surrounding context, differs from it with the rhythmic austerity of its dual composition, a slight wave of the façade, and the color design, in which one can see two images, winter and summer, both “growing” from the specifics of the place.
A Shell by the Sea
Designing the Sports Palace that will determine the development of the entire northern part of Derbent, ASADOV Architects turned to the architectural legacy of Dagestan, local lore, and ancient layers of history.
Karen Saprichyan is wishing everyone a merry Christmas, presenting a series of letter-shaped skyscrapers. The architect has long since been working on this theme, and has calendars of various years in stock. His latest development is a group of towers designed for the city of NEOM, which will be built in Saudi Arabia.
The three brick blocks of the “River Park” housing complex gaze at the water with their terraces. Each block forms a backdrop and two wings, while the residents-only yards turn into “stages” perceived from the river. The landscaped embankment, accessible to all the city people, complements the hierarchy of private, semi-private and public city life that is formed here.
Pompidou Inside Out
Renzo Piano and his GES-2 have already been compared to Ridolfo Aristotele Fioravanti and his Cathedral of the Assumption. And for a good reason: GES-2 also stuns you with its grace and loftiness, but ultimately turns out to be the richest collection of recognizable motifs from an early masterpiece by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the George Pompidou Center in Paris. These motifs are fused into the grid of Shukhov-esque structures, painted white, and they create a dialogue between 1910, 1971, and 2021, built on references (not devoid of a poster-like quality) to the main masterpiece. The basilica-shaped space of the former power station is taken apart virtually just like the museum, in accordance with the concept by Teresa Mavica.
Next to Lidval and Nobel
The housing complex designed by Anatoly Stolyarchuk in Neishlotsky Alley: tactful change of scale, tribute to the memory of the place, Finnish additions to the functional typology – specifically, saunas in the apartments – and plans for receiving a BREEAM certificate.
And stabbed it with a knife
The leader of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix, presented three projects that he is currently doing in Russia: a complex in Sevastopol, Crimea, which, as it turned out, a western architect could build bypassing the sanctions, because this is a cultural project; a museum and theater center in Kemerovo, and the “SKA Arena”, which is built in the stead of the destroyed Sports and Concert Complex in St. Petersburg – during the presentation the latter was symbolized by a round cake that the architect eventually cut.
The Thin Matter
The house named “Medny 3.14” (“Copper 3.14”) is composed of two textures, each of which resembles in its own way some kind of precious fabric, and of three units, each of which is oriented towards one cardinal point. The architecture of the house absorbs the nuances of the context, summing them up and turning them into a single rhythmic structure. In this article, we are examining the new, just-completed, house designed by Sergey Skuratov in Donskaya Street.
The new business center built in Moscow’s district of Presnya in the 1st Zemelny Lane is all about technology and sustainability. Its streamlined shapes and white facade grid are combined with a new version of vertical greenery: the green of wild grapes, placed at a distance from the facade, instead of arguing with the “pergola” grid, sets it off by contrast.
Lightness of Being
Blooming Sakura, a campfire party, kids splashing in a swimming pool – no, these are not pictures from a vacation, but everyday life going on in the yards of Kiev’s housing complex “Fayna Town”. In this issue, we are examining how the utopia designed by the architects is wired, and what they did to make it a reality.
A Triangular Folded Structure
The project of the new terminal of the Muraviev-Amursky airport in Blagoveshchensk offers architecture based on a modular form – endowed with a special imagery, it becomes the basis both for the carrying structures of the building and the plastique of the facade, at the same time reverberating in the interior design.
The Breath of the East
Designing a residential complex for Tashkent, GENPRO is turning to traditional architecture and modern trends, aiming at emotionality and efficiency: the panjar window lattices and mishrabias are neighboring on vertical greenery and parametric ornaments, while the theme buildings do on a cotton alley and an oriental bazaar.
The Openwork XX-Construction Set
The yard of the Architecture Museum on Moscow’s Vozdvizhenka hosts an installation by DNK ag. It is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the company, and was originally presented at Arch Moscow. The art object is expected to stay in the yard of the museum for one year and set a new tradition – a regularly renewed exhibition project called “Modern Architecture in the yard of MUAR”.
The Spinning Vibe
The pavilion designed by Sergey Tchoban for the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai is a bright and integral architectural statement, whose imagery can be traced back to avant-garde graphic experiments by Jacob Chernikhov, but allows for multiple interpretations. The pavilion looks both like a dome temple, a spinning “Planet Russia”, and the head of a matryoshka doll. Still more interestingly, the core of the exposition is a “brain”. In this article, we take a closer look at the interpretations and the subtleties of the implementation.
Tolerant Aesthetics of Terraforming
The World Expo is a gigantic event; it is difficult to give it one definition or cover it at a glance. All the more so – such an ambitious and record-breaking fair as the one that is now open in Dubai despite all the pandemic restrictions. By no means claiming to present an all-rounded review, we are making an attempt to examine Expo 2020, where signs of aesthetic tolerance of a developer project begin to loom behind the imposing-looking “wings” of “star” architects and delights from space exploration.
The Town in the Snuff-box
The new academic building of Cooperation School in Moscow’s Taganka, designed and built by ASADOV Architects, is a compact volume, at the same time filled with functions and impressions. It easily combines classrooms, a theater, a cafeteria, a gym, and a double-height atrium with an open library and an exit to the terrace – virtually everything that you expect to see in a modern school.
The Northern Versailles
On the bank of the magnificent Vychegda River, in a picturesque location six kilometers away from Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi republic, the renowned neoclassical architect Mikhail Filippov has designed the town of Yugyd-Choi in the traditional aesthetics inspired by the center of St. Petersburg. The customer Elena Soboleva, the head of the Syktyvkar Housing Construction Fund, sees her mission in making Yugyd-Choi the hallmark of the republic.
Analysis and Synthesis
The project of the housing complex “Krasin”, designed for the historical center of St. Petersburg, and situated in a very obliging place – next to the Mining University designed by Voronikhin, yet bordering on an industrial area – became the result of a thorough analysis of the specifics of historical construction on the Vasilyevsky Island, and a subsequent synthesis with avoidance of direct stylization, yet forming a recognizable silhouette, resonant with the “old town”.
Tatiana Guk: “A document that determines the development of the city has to be flexible”
In this issue, we are talking to the director of the Genplan Institute of Moscow about trends that determine the future, about the 70-year history of the Institute, which is celebrating an anniversary this year, about electronic computing in the field of urban planning and about international experience accumulated in this area, as well as about how the Institute is involved with other cities, and about the perfect document for the city development, which has to be flexible and strategic.
The high-rise housing complex MOD, whose construction has begun in Moscow’s district of Maryina Roshcha next to the site, on which the new Russian Railways headquarters will be built, is responding to the “central” context of the future city surroundings, and at the same time is positioned by the architects as a “manifesto of Modernist minimalist principles in architecture”.
A project by DNK ag won in a competition for the science campus of the National Center for Physics and Mathematics in the city of Sarov, conducted by ROSATOM corporation in collaboration with the Moscow State University, Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Kurchatov Institute.
The new terminal of the Leonov Airport in Kemerovo was built in record-breaking time, despite the pandemic. It became one of the important factors for the rapid development of the city, visually reflecting its dedication to the first spacewalk, both in the interiors and on the facades. Its main features are the “starry sky” effect and overall openness.
The Spiral Approach
The school building in the city of Nur-Sultan, designed by Vera Budko and Anton Nadtochiy from beginning to end – from concept to working documentation – became the embodiment of the architects’ method for creating a modern educational environment, which the ATRIUM architects have been developing for years. Its fundamentals include creating an inspiring environment that motivates you to create. This is why the new school received a shape of an ornamental golden spiral that symbolizes ascension to knowledge; on the inside, the building is a compound and multifunctional “city within a city” with multilevel atriums, amphitheaters, and varying routes.
Stream and Lines
Stepan Liphart’s projects of Art Deco villas demonstrate technical symbolism in combination with a subtle reference to the 1930s. One of the projects is a “paper” one; the others are designed for real customers: a top manager, an art collector, and a developer.
On the Bank of a Very Quiet River
The project of landscaping the territory of the residential complex NOW in Moscow’s Nagatinskaya Valley goes beyond the limits of its task and looks more like a modern park: with viewing platforms, an embankment, spaces different in their moods, and thought-out scenarios for visitors aged between 0 and 80.
The Strategy of Transformation
In this article, we are publishing eight projects of reconstructing postwar Modernist buildings that have been implemented by Tchoban Voss Architekten and showcased in the AEDES gallery at the recent Re-Use exhibition. Parallel to that, we are meditating on the demonstrated approaches and the preservation of things that architectural legislation does not require to preserve.