Openwork Experience

The housing project at the Mikhailova Street skillfully uses the benefits of its surroundings to the advantage of its future residents, exploring numerous fashionable trends of today: the façades are meticulously elaborate, and the public spaces are well thought out from the standpoint of both city people and the residents of the complex.

12 December 2017
Katerina Gren
Vladimir Kovalev
Bureau of Architecture GREN.
Residential complex at Mikhailova street
Russia, Moscow

2016 — 2016

This housing project is built in the southeast of Moscow, on a 2.4 hectare land plots, 700 meters away from the border of the Kuskovo Estate Park. But then again, the museum palace and its Large Creek are situated in the opposite side of the park, so the new building will not violate the historical panorama. The immediate surroundings of the complex consist of five-story houses swimming in greenery, including red-brick Stalin ones, with an odd inclusion of buildings with larger numbers of floors. The “Ryazansky Prospect” metro station is a 20 minutes’ walk away, and the “Plyushchevo” railroad station is 10 minutes away. In the nearest future, a new metro station named “Okskaya Ulitsa” will open, which will be a 15 minutes’ walk away from the complex.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Location plan © Olimpproekt Group

The task of designing a large-scale housing project on a relatively small land plot with insolation limitations was far from easy – shares the chief architect of “Olimpproekt” Ekaterina Gren. The client wanted to see a flashy architectural concept that would at the same time fit in nicely with its surroundings, and answer the trends of modern construction. According to Ekaterina Gren, in the process of complicated work, the architects were able to find a solution that could satisfy both the client, and the future residents of the complex, and the residents of the surrounding area.

The complex consists of eight residential units from 12 to 19 stories high. Together, they form a semi-closed yard that opens up northeast towards the park. The front of the Mikhailova Street is formed by three 12-story sections – it is planned that here along the entire façade there will be a public space with cafes, shops, and an open-air promenade before them. The typology of the urban retail stores is generally familiar to the local residents: such stores are to be found on the first floors of the Stalin five-stories and the podiums of later-built 9-story buildings, but the new housing complex is expected to set the trend for a more modern type of busy public space of the ground floors.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

Two 19-story buildings stretch into the depth of the land site. The east building is linked to the building that stands along the Mikhailova Street by a broad hypostyle connection. Its green roof will become a small additional park, while its supports will be coated with black polished granite. Across from it, in the west building, there is yet another entrance to the yard: a compact narrow passageway that functionally repeats the east “propylaea” – it is there for a reason, because, as is the custom nowadays, all the entrances to the residential sections are located in the yard, which pretty much turns the yard entrance into a home entrance.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

The “Ryazansky Prospect” metro station, just as the future “Okskaya Ulitsa”, is situated east of the complex on the Mikhailova Street – so, the east façade is designed as being sort of a “grand” one, and, because, from this side the main bulk of the pedestrian stream will be coming, the main entrance to the yard is also situated here. For the same reason, the outward front of the east building, just as the first floors along the Mikhailova Street, is given to shops and restaurants. This is the “city side” façade, turned to the bustling Ryazansky Avenue.

But then again, yet another strong side of this place is the fact that with its fairly good transport accessibility it is not squeezed between overcrowded streets or highways. The nearest neighbor from the “grand” east side is a rank-and-file clinic building, overgrown with bushes; it is still good 65 meters to go to the narrow and quiet 1st Institutskaya Street. From the opposite side, the distance to the Lukhovitskaya Street is still further – 180 meters – and here the nearest neighbor of the complex is a three-story building of the former medical unit. From this side, the entire territory stretching up to that street belongs to the complex’s sphere of influence, and the architects are planning to organize here a transition zone – some sort of a quiet yard, going through which, without having to cross any automobile roads, one will be able to reach a football field, a children’s playground, and a library. Here the architects also place a guest overland parking lot with a turfstone paver. From this side, the two lower floors of the northeast building will house an over-2000-sqm kindergarten for 124 children.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Layout of the land site organization combined with the transport diagram © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the 1st and 2nd floor © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Section view 1-1 © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Section view 2-2 © Olimpproekt Group

The vehicle-free private yard is located on the roof of the underground parking garage; the yard is landscaped. The thought-out zoning allowed the architects to combine playgrounds with a highly developed landscape, abundance of greenery, a sufficient number of benches, and even a lilac garden that is capable of doing magic in any part of the city. A shallow strip of water – a miniature man-made river – forms in the main part of the yard a semblance of a short promenade, helps to divide the zones in an unconventional way, and fills the space with emotion. In the corner, where the south and west buildings meet, the “river” ends: there is a small square here, this time without greenery but adorned by a sculpture. The entrances to the underground parking garage are situated not inside the yard but outside of it, and at a sufficient distance to stop the exhaust fumes from poisoning the yard.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

“In addition to the town-planning issues and the search for the volumetric and space solution, we had to stylistically inscribe the complex into its surroundings – says Ekaterina Gren – Ultimately, we came up with an austere and respectable image of housing, reserved in the plastique of the volumes and exquisite in the façade decoration”.

Indeed, if we are to speak about some full-scale play of volumes, the genre of a housing complex does not provide for it by definition, and the architects concentrated on the texture, color, and other details, combining two types of façade “matter”: white glass-fibre reinforced concrete и cream-colored clinker. The clinker is used in volumes of smaller height, the 12-story-tall ones, and their height this way echoes the scale of the neighboring panel houses, while their material echoes that of the Stalin five-stories. The clinker is also used to decorate the three sections standing on the Mikhailova Street, and the slabs that visually continue them, cut into the volumes of taller yard-side units. The “white” matter is allotted to taller volumes and is subjugated to the horizontal; the rows of windows look much like bands, but then again, this is compensated by the latent classics of the enlarged and laconic “flutes” in the piers.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

The theme of two “matters”, which is important for the complex, is augmented and united by openwork inclusions of ornamental panels which are there in both colors and which form a sunken-in “inner” layer of the façades on a level with windows and inserts of dark ceramic granite. The theme is picked up by protruding wrought iron balconies – air conditioning units that look like French balconies from a distance. They protrude more than it is necessary for the air conditioning units: the façades are endowed with a noticeable depth of their surface, carefully drawn and sculptured. These little balconies can even host small planters – the authors of the project claim.

All the apartments have a stanza balcony in them, and 3-room apartments have even two. Totally, the project provides for 685 apartments of “comfort” class. The developer plans to sell them, as he puts it, “with partitions to be given a finishing touch later” – i.e. without decoration. The list of popular novelties includes, among other things, bathrooms with windows; in some apartments kitchens are united with living rooms; the project also provides for storage spaces for the residents in the basement. The entrances to the residential sections are designed on the “zero” level, so they do not need either stairways or ramps that would otherwise clog up the yard – one can just step inside.

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Fragment of the facade © Olimpproekt Group

Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group

Thus, this new housing complex embodies a lot of the trendy “signs of the times”: attention to detail and desire to rethink the architectural context, a vehicle-free landscaped yard, a developed public space in the bottom floors, thought-out pedestrian routes, and smart use of the benefits given by the surroundings.

One can also mention a few things that are NOT there in this housing complex. The fashion for bright “pixelated” façades came and (luckily) went; the architects found quite a different solution to make sure that comfort-class high-rises no longer look like line “medical thermometers” because of vertical arrays of stanza balconies. It turned out that it was enough to sink the stanzas into the space of the apartments, treating them from the outside as windows, to leave enough room for playing with the façade’s plastique. And as for the image of the buildings, in this specific instance, it teeters on the verge of respectable art-deco: hence the metal, openwork inclusions, vertical modules and flutes – and the modern decorated architecture. Possibly, we are witnessing the birth of a certain branch of Moscow art-deco of the XXI century: different versions of this style have been tried in this city for 20 years already; there have been a lot unsuccessful attempts. As for the new version, however, it is reasonably up-to-date, respectable-looking, and at the same time it answers the requirements of the market that wanted to get a large but “decent-looking” housing complex. One must admit that architecture of residential buildings developed in a similar manner in the XIX century: architects would answer, as best they could, to the requirements of the growing housing market; back in those days, in the beginning of the XX century, all the techniques were honed to perfection. Now we are observing the same process, only on a larger scale, resonant with the pace of the growing megalopolis.

The developer is promising to put the housing complex into operation in the second quarter of 2019; the construction worker is underway.
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor floors 13-19 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor floors 2-12 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Development drawings © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes 1-26 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes C1-A © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes A2-Pb © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes 1-26 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes C1-A © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Elevation on grid in axes 4-b-1 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the 1st floor © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Section 1 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Section 2 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Section 4 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Section 5 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Section 6 © Olimpproekt Group
Housing complex at the Mikhailova Street. Plan of the standard floor of Sections 7 and 8 © Olimpproekt Group

Katerina Gren
Vladimir Kovalev
Bureau of Architecture GREN.
Residential complex at Mikhailova street
Russia, Moscow

2016 — 2016

12 December 2017

Headlines now
The Big Twelve
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Above the Golden Horn
The residential complex “Philosophy” designed by T+T architects in Vladivostok, is one of the new projects in the “Golubinaya Pad” area, changing its development philosophy (pun intended) from single houses to a comprehensive approach. The buildings are organized along public streets, varying in height and format, with one house even executed in gallery typology, featuring a cantilever leaning on an art object.
Nuanced Alternative
How can you rhyme a square and space? Easily! But to do so, you need to rhyme everything you can possibly think of: weave everything together, like in a tensegrity structure, and find your own optics too. The new exhibition at GES-2 does just that, offering its visitor a new perspective on the history of art spanning 150 years, infused with the hope for endless multiplicity of worlds and art histories. Read on to see how this is achieved and how the exhibition design by Evgeny Ace contributes to it.
Blinds for Ice
An ice arena has been constructed in Domodedovo based on a project by Yuri Vissarionov Architects. To prevent the long façade, a technical requirement for winter sports facilities, from appearing monotonous, the architects proposed the use of suspended structures with multidirectional slats. This design protects the ice from direct sunlight while giving the wall texture and detail.
Campus within a Day
In this article, we talk about what the participants of Genplan Institute of Moscow’s hackathon were doing at the MosComArchitecture booth at the “ArchMoscow” exhibition. We also discuss who won the prize and why, and what can be done with the territory of a small university on the outskirts of Moscow.
Vertical Civilization
Genpro considered the development of the vertical city concept and made it the theme of their pavilion at the “ArchMoscow” exhibition.
Marina Yegorova: “We think in terms of hectares, not square meters”
The career path of architect Marina Yegorova is quite impressive: MARHI, SPEECH, MosComArchitectura, the Genplan Institute of Moscow, and then her own architectural company. Its name Empate, which refers to the words “to draw” in Portuguese and “to empathize” in English, should not be misleading with its softness, as the firm freely works on different scales, including Integrated Territorial Development projects. We talked with Marina about various topics: urban planning experience, female leadership style, and even the love of architects for yachting.
Andrey Chuikov: “Optimum balance is achieved through economics”
The Yekaterinburg-based architectural company CNTR is in its mature stage: crystallization of principles, systematization, and standardization helped it make a qualitative leap, enhance competencies, and secure large contracts without sacrificing the aesthetic component. The head of the company, Andrey Chuikov, told us about building a business model and the bonuses that additional education in financial management provides for an architect.
The Fulcrum
Ostozhenka Architects have designed two astonishing towers practically on the edge of a slope above the Oka River in Nizhny Novgorod. These towers stand on 10-meter-tall weathered steel “legs”, with each floor offering panoramic views of the river and the city; all public spaces, including corridors, receive plenty of natural light. Here, we see a multitude of solutions that are unconventional for the residential routine of our day and age. Meanwhile, although these towers hark back to the typological explorations of the seventies, they are completely reinvented in a contemporary key. We admire Veren Group as the client – this is exactly how a “unique product” should be made – and we tell you exactly how our towers are arranged.
Crystal is Watching You
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The Secret Briton
The house is called “Little France”. Its composition follows the classical St. Petersburg style, with a palace-like courtyard. The decor is on the brink of Egyptian lotuses, neo-Greek acroteria, and classic 1930s “gears”; the recessed piers are Gothic, while the silhouette of the central part of the house is British. It’s quite interesting to examine all these details, attempting to understand which architectural direction they belong to. At the same time, however, the house fits like a glove in the context of the 20th line of St. Petersburg’s Vasilievsky Island; its elongated wings hold up the façade quite well.
The Wrap-Up
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Birds and Streams
For the competition to design the Omsk airport, DNK ag formed a consortium, inviting VOX architects and Sila Sveta. Their project focuses on intersections, journeys, and flights – both of people and birds – as Omsk is known as a “transfer point” for bird migrations. The educational component is also carefully considered, and the building itself is filled with light, which seems to deconstruct the copper circle of the central entrance portal, spreading it into fantastic hyper-spatial “slices”.
Faraday Grid
The project of the Omsk airport by ASADOV Architects is another concept among the 14 finalists of a recent competition. It is called “The Bridge” and is inspired by both the West Siberian Exhibition of 1911 and the Trans-Siberian Railway bridge over the Irtysh River, built in 1896. On one hand, it carries a steampunk vibe, while on the other, there’s almost a sense of nostalgia for the heyday of 1913. However, the concept offers two variants, the second one devoid of nostalgia but featuring a parabola.
Midway upon the Journey of Our Life
Recently, Tatlin Publishing House released a book entitled “Architect Sergey Oreshkin. Selected Projects”. This book is not just a traditional book of the architectural company’s achievements, but rather a monograph of a more personal nature. The book includes 43 buildings as well as a section with architectural drawings. In this article, we reflect on the book as a way to take stock of an architect’s accomplishments.
Inverted Fortress
This year, there has been no shortage of intriguing architectural ideas around the Omsk airport. The project developed by the architectural company KPLN appeals to Omsk’s history as a wooden fortress that it was back in the day, but transforms the concept of a fortress beyond recognition: it “shaves off” the conical ends of “wooden logs”, then enlarges them, and then flips them over. The result is a hypostyle – a forest of conical columns on point supports, with skylights on top.
Transformation of Annenkirche
For Annenkirche (St. Anna Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg), Sergey Kuznetsov and the Kamen bureau have prepared a project that relies on the principles of the Venice Charter: the building is not restored to a specific date, historical layers are preserved, and modern elements do not mimic the authentic ones. Let’s delve into the details of these solutions.
The Paradox of the Temporary
The concept of the Russian pavilion for EXPO 2025 in Osaka, proposed by the Wowhaus architects, is the last of the six projects we gathered from the 2022 competition. It is again worth noting that the results of this competition were not finalized due to the cancellation of Russia’s participation in World Expo 2025. It should be mentioned that Wowhaus created three versions for this competition, but only one is being presented, and it can’t be said that this version is thoroughly developed – rather, it is done in the spirit of a “student assignment”. Nevertheless, the project is interesting in its paradoxical nature: the architects emphasized the temporary character of the pavilion, and in its bubble-like forms sought to reflect the paradoxes of space and time.
The Forum of Time
The competition project for the Russian Pavilion at EXPO 2025 in Osaka designed by Aleksey Orlov and Arena Project Institute consists of cones and conical funnels connected into a non-trivial composition, where one can feel the hand of architects who have worked extensively with stadiums and other sports facilities. It’s very interesting to delve into its logic, structurally built on the theme of clocks, hourglasses and even sundials. Additionally, the architects have turned the exhibition pavilion into a series of interconnected amphitheaters, which is also highly relevant for world exhibitions. We are reminding you that the competition results were never announced.
Mirrors Everywhere
The project by Sergey Nebotov, Anastasia Gritskova, and the architectural company “Novoe” was created for the Russian pavilion at EXPO 2025, but within the framework of another competition, which, as we learned, took place even earlier, in 2021. At that time, the competition theme was “digital twins”, and there was minimal time for work, so the project, according to the architect himself, was more of a “student assignment”. Nevertheless, this project is interesting for its plan bordering on similarity with Baroque projects and the emblem of the exhibition, as well as its diverse and comprehensive reflectiveness.
The Steppe Is Full of Beauty and Freedom
The goal of the exhibition “Dikoe Pole” (“Wild Field”) at the State Historical Museum was to move away from the archaeological listing of valuable items and to create an image of the steppe and nomads that was multidirectional and emotional – in other words, artistic. To achieve this goal, it was important to include works of contemporary art. One such work is the scenography of the exhibition space developed by CHART studio.
The Snowstorm Fish
The next project from the unfinished competition for the Russian Pavilion at EXPO 2025, which will be held in Osaka, Japan, is by Dashi Namdakov and Parsec Architects. The pavilion describes itself as an “architectural/sculptural” one, with its shape clearly reminiscent of abstract sculpture of the 1970s. It complements its program with a meditative hall named “Mendeleev’s Dreams”, and offers its visitors to slide from its roof at the end of the tour.
The Mirror of Your Soul
We continue to publish projects from the competition for the design of the Russian Pavilion at EXPO in Osaka 2025. We are reminding you that the results of the competition have not been announced, and hardly will ever be. The pavilion designed by ASADOV Architects combines a forest log cabin, the image of a hyper transition, and sculptures made of glowing threads – it focuses primarily on the scenography of the exhibition, which the pavilion builds sequentially like a string of impressions, dedicating it to the paradoxes of the Russian soul.
Part of the Ideal
In 2025, another World Expo will take place in Osaka, Japan, in which Russia will not participate. However, a competition for the Russian pavilion was indeed held, with six projects participating. The results were never announced as Russia’s participation was canceled; the competition has no winners. Nevertheless, Expo pavilion projects are typically designed for a bold and interesting architectural statement, so we’ve gathered all the six projects and will be publishing articles about them in random order. The first one is the project by Vladimir Plotkin and Reserve Union, which is distinguished by the clarity of its stereometric shape, the boldness of its structure, and the multiplicity of possible interpretations.
The Fortress by the River
ASADOV Architects have developed a concept for a new residential district in the center of Kemerovo. To combat the harsh climate and monotonous everyday life, the architects proposed a block type of development with dominant towers, good insolation, facades detailed at eye level, and event programming.
In the Rhombus Grid
Construction has begun on the building of the OMK (United Metallurgical Company) Corporate University in Nizhny Novgorod’s town of Vyksa, designed by Ostozhenka Architects. The most interesting aspect of the project is how the architects immersed it in the context: “extracting” a diagonal motif from the planning grid of Vyksa, they aligned the building, the square, and the park to match it. A truly masterful work with urban planning context on several different levels of perception has long since become the signature technique of Ostozhenka.
​Generational Connection
Another modern estate, designed by Roman Leonidov, is located in the Moscow region and brings together three generations of one family under one roof. To fit on a narrow plot without depriving anyone of personal space, the architects opted for a zigzag plan. The main volume in the house structure is accentuated by mezzanines with a reverse-sloped roof and ceilings featuring exposed beams.
Three Dimensions of the City
We began to delve into the project by Sergey Skuratov, the residential complex “Depo” in Minsk, located at Victory Square, and it fascinated us completely. The project has at least several dimensions to it: historical – at some point, the developer decided to discontinue further collaboration with Sergey Skuratov Architects, but the concept was approved, and its implementation continues, mostly in accordance with the proposed ideas. The spatial and urban planning dimension – the architects both argue with the city and play along with it, deciphering nuances, and finding axes. And, finally, the tactile dimension – the constructed buildings also have their own intriguing features. Thus, this article also has two parts: it dwells on what has been built and what was conceived
New “Flight”
Architects from “Mezonproject” have developed a project for the reconstruction of the regional youth center “Polyot”(“Flight”) in the city of Oryol. The summer youth center, built back in the late 1970s, will now become year-round and acquire many additional functions.
The Yauza Towers
In Moscow, there aren’t that many buildings or projects designed by Nikita Yavein and Studio 44. In this article, we present to you the concept of a large multifunctional complex on the Yauza River, located between two parks, featuring a promenade, a crossroads of two pedestrian streets, a highly developed public space, and an original architectural solution. This solution combines a sophisticated, asymmetric façade grid, reminiscent of a game of fifteen puzzle, and bold protrusions of the upper parts of the buildings, completely masking the technical floors and sculpting the complex’s silhouette.