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
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”.
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.
The Red Building
The area of Novoslobodskaya has received Maison Rouge – an apartment complex designed by ADM, which continues the wave of renovation, started by the Atmosphere business center, from the side of the Palikha Street.
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
The housing complex Renome consists of two buildings: a modern stone house and a red-brick factory building of the end of the XIX century, reconstructed by measurements and original drafts. The two buildings are connected by an “inclined” yard – a rare, by Moscow standards, version of geoplastics that smoothly ascends to the roof of the stores lined up along a pedestrian street.
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
T+T Architects have designed an office for a French IT company, where the employees in any point of the premises can discuss with their colleagues new ideas or even write them on the wall.
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
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
Polyphony of a Strict Style
The “ID Moskovskiy” housing project on St. Petersburg’s Moscow Avenue was designed by the team of Stepan Liphart in the past 2020. The ensemble of two buildings, joined by a colonnade, is executed in a generalized neoclassical style with elements of Art Deco.
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
An apartment hotel that looks like a ship with wide decks has been designed for a land plot on a lake shore in Moscow’s South Tushino. This “steamer” house, overlooking the lake and the river port, does indeed look as if it were ready to sail away.
The Magic of Rhythm or Ornament as a Theme
Designed by Sergey Tchoban, the housing complex Veren Place in St. Petersburg is the perfect example of inserting a new building into a historical city, and one the cases of implementing the strategy that the architect presented a few years ago in the book, which he coauthored with Vladimir Sedov, called “30:70. Architecture as a Balance of Forces”.
Walking on Water
In the nearest future, the Marc Chagall Embankment will be turned into Moscow’s largest riverside park with green promenades, cycling and jogging trails, a spa center on water, a water garden, and sculptural pavilions designed in the spirit of the Russian avant-garde artists of the 1920, and, first of all, Chagall himself. In this issue, we are covering the second-stage project.
A-Len has developed and patented the “Perfect Apartments” program, which totally eliminates “bad” apartment layouts. In this article, we are sharing how this program came around, what it is about, who can benefit from it, and how.
“Architectural Archaeology of the Narkomfin Building”: the Recap
One of the most important events of 2020 has been the completion of the long-awaited restoration of the monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture – the Narkomfin Building, the progenitor of the typology of social housing in this country. The house retained its residential function as the main one, alongside with a number of artifacts and restoration clearances turned into living museum exhibits.
LIFE on the Setun River
The area in the valley of the Setun River near the Vereiskaya Street got two new blocks of the “LIFE-Kutuzovsky” housing complex, designed by ADM architects. The two new blocks have a retail boulevard of their own, and a small riverside park.
Three towers on a podium over the Ramenka River are the new dominant elements on the edge of a Soviet “microdistrict”. Their scale is quite modern: the height is 176 m – almost a skyscraper; the facades are made of glass and steel. Their graceful proportions are emphasized by a strict white grid, and the volumetric composition picks up the diagonal “grid of coordinates” that was once outlined in the southwest of Moscow by the architects of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Clouds over the Railroad
In the stead of former warehouses near “Lyubertsy-1” station, a new housing complex has been built, which peacefully coexists with the railroad, with the flyover bridge, and with the diverse surrounding scenery, not only dominating over the latter, but improving it.