20.07.2020Moving on the Edge
Seven Hills of Moscow
- contemporary architecture
Seven installations for Moscow Fireworks Festival and a multistory raft in the city of Vyksa – these and other projects were realized by the team of interns of the 4th internship of Wowhaus.
The Wowhaus internship is an educational project that helps young architects to immerse themselves into the profession, not in the routine, but in a creative way – honing, and sometimes implementing their ideas in collaboration with practicing architects of the firm, including its leaders Oleg Shapiro and Dmitry Likin. According to the Wowhaus architects, the fourth internship proved to be the most fruitful one. Over a short period of time, a team of seven young lady architects who came from all over the country was able to design and build the project of a raft for Vyksa’s Art-Ovrag (“Art-Ravine”) Festival, and take part in many large-scale projects of the firm.
The interns recall that they got down to their first task in less than an hour after their initial interview. A schedule just as tight was applied to the whole studying course: workshops, lectures, brainstorming sessions, sleepless nights, participation in construction work and author supervision.
Intern of the fourth internship;
currently a junior architect of Wowhaus:
“Figuratively speaking, I was lucky to catch the last train on that project, submitting my portfolio an hour before the deadline. After I got back to Moscow from Germany, where I finished graduate school, I dreamed of finding a job that I could really enjoy. Wowhaus seemed to me the most interesting option. But when I was submitting my application I did not expect the competition to be so tough – seven applicants per place. I was lucky enough to become a part of a large team with its own philosophy and its own attitude towards the profession. I was also lucky with the team of interns – we were all thinking in the same lines, and we were able to find common ground very quickly, and do interesting projects together”.
Maybe, due to the fact that the team was a very close-knit one, the Wowhaus leaders made a decision to invite all the interns to work for the firm in the capacity of junior architects. Below, we are covering a few projects that were done with the input from Wowhaus interns 2017.
The “Paradox” raft in Vyksa
Rotating one element consisting of two flights of stairs helped the architects to create a tight spatial knot on a small floating island, mastering the whole of it. Although the raft was on the rocky side, and the guests had to duck now and then, it could still take aboard a record number of people and sail them around. After the festival, all the rafts, including “Paradox”, were transferred into the city ownership, and are now used as pleasure boats on a local creek.
Hills for the Fireworks Festival
The International Fireworks Festival took place in Moscow in mid-August. Before the festival, the interns, who by that time already had the status of the architects of the firm, developed, under the guidance of Anastasia Izmakova, concepts for seven art objects that were meant to symbolize the seven hills of the nation’s capital – Borovitsky, Tagansky, Strastnoy, Sretensky, Invanovskaya and Pskovskaya mounts, and the Vorobyevy (“Sparrow”) Hills. Every intern was commissioned with one location. The work of the project began with profound historical studies – a two-hour lecture delivered by the Moscow history expert Philipp Smirnov, which allowed the interns to get a maximum of information not only about the hills but about Moscow in general.
The Borovitsky Hill
This installation was presented as a symbolic city square circled by a red wooden fence, in the center of which stands a swing 12 meters tall. Painted red, just as the fence, this swing looked more like a tower. As for the square, in spite of the fact that its coverage was grass, it still put the visitors in the mind of the Red Square with its Kremlin walls, while the material that the author of the project chose for the fence – pieces of timber of different sizes – served as a reminder of a pine-tree forest that used to be here centuries ago. Hence, the name of Borovitsky (which can be loosely translated as “Forest” – translator’s note) Hill.
“The Red Square is a steady association, from which we wanted to break away as much as possible – explains the author of the project Sophia Zhukova – The only thing that literally refers to it is the color. Historically, the Red Square has always been the place of people’s gatherings, and this is pretty much why I chose the idea of the people’s unity to base my project upon. Hence, the image of a swing as a universal uniting element that is loved by children and adults alike”.
During the whole festival, the swing, in which, in accordance with the old Russian tradition, one could only swing in an upright standing position, did enjoy great popularity. The interns are recalling that even the construction workers who assembled the swing in the park could not resist the temptation to take a swing after their work was done.
Shvivaya Mount. The Tagansky HillEkaterina Kovbashina
The Shvivaya Mount was the place where crafts were developed. For centuries, this part of the city hosted weavers’ workshops, so, creating her installation, Ekaterina Kovbashina proceeded from the image of a weaving loom. The weaving loom, which, according to the author’s idea, was to be used to its direct purpose during the festival, occupied the central position in the installation. What grew up around it looked something like a tower assembled from its individual elements and parts. The visitors could step inside the tower and even try to weave a strip of canvas.
“I originally planned that the construction of the tower would be metallic but it was ultimately made of wood – Ekaterina Kovbashina says – another thing that I wasn’t able to do was have the threads backlit and include the interactive part. But generally, all the elements of the project are there: the object was a big hit with children, while adults would examine it from different angles and play the game of associations – someone compared it with a butterfly’s cocoon, someone – with a penguin. This is my first project implemented on such a grand scale”.
Designing her project, Kristina Rykova drew inspiration from the high-rise building of the Moscow State University – she took the star that crowns the high-rises’s spear as the starting point. Its real size is quite impressive – a whopping 8 meters in diameter. One cannot conceive that fact, however, because we all are used to seeing this star from a distance. What Kristina proposed to do was get this star down from heaven to earth, and she came up with a wooden structure whose plan repeats the contour of the star on a real-size scale. The opening that the structure has in its roof is of the same shape only it is smaller. It was also planned that stars would be used for decorating the walls as well. The idea was that, coming inside, the visitor would see the stars above, below, and even all around him.
“The project underwent significant changes in the course of the construction – Kristina Rykova explains – Initially, I planned to build my project from wood but this idea turned out to be prohibitively expensive. The wooden parts were ultimately replaced with red ribbons”. Nevertheless, the image of the star is easily readable in the altered project as well.
The Ivanovskaya Mount is connected with the image of the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral. However, Alina Malysheva decided to base her project not on the image of the cathedral itself, but on the organ whose sound filled its walls since 1837. The installation explores the bright artistic image of the organ that consists of numerous pipes. In this particular instance, however, the pipes, wrapped in white semitransparent perforated film, are placed in a rather chaotic fashion and have a huge scale – from giant ones, inside of which you can step like you would into a room to tiny decorative ones. In the windy weather, with the air blowing through the pipes of different diameter, the entire installation will be livened up by musical accompaniment.
In addition to the fact that the installation is essentially a musical instrument, Alina proposed to place musical instruments of her original design inside of each of the larger pipes – for example, a makeshift xylophone, a church bell, or a communication tube. She was not able to realize this idea, though, and, instead, came up with a new one: an interactive installation that would allow the visitors to add effects to the sound of their voices. “This playful aspect of the installation was something that our visitors liked very much – Alina Malysheva recalls – People would hit the keys, run from one pipe to another like they would in a labyrinth, they would shout and stomp, creating a constant echo”.
The Sretensky Hill
The Lubyanka Square once had on it a large water-supplying fountain: people would come here with barrels and buckets to get water from the Mytishchi aqueduct. It was this specific image that constituted the basis for the art object designed by Alina Rakhmatullina. The young architect proposed to make a fountain from numerous intertwining water pipes painted different bright colors. The water flows through the pipes in a cyclic fashion, filling a reservoir at the base of the structure. In order to make the water fill the reservoir, one has to push the button. What makes the whole process more fun is the fact that after one pushes the button the water can issue from any of the pipes, and you never know which pipe it will be next.
During the festival, the fountain occupied its due place in the food court zone, and got yet another functional purpose: Alina Rakhmatullina recalls that people would use it to wash their hands before meals. As for the little guests of the festival, they most of all enjoyed the button pushing game.
The Strastnoy Hill
The Strastnoy Hill and the Tverskaya Street situated on it are all about locomotion. This street has always been the city’s main artery: this road was ridden upon by the first horse-drawn streetcar, diligences, and the first tramway. However, the most interesting thing that ever happened to this place was the widening of this street in the 1930’s. This was the time when whole buildings came in motion – they were moved over to the new red line on rails.
The Nina Stepina installation also has rails in it, upon which trolleys run. A peculiar 25-meter railway is decorated by a lightweight structure of numerous rectangular arches. Viewed in perspective, they resemble a portal which looks particularly mind-blowing at night thanks to its backlights. The portal ends in a large screen which plays nonstop historical movies about Moscow and the Tverskaya Street.
The Pskovskaya Mount used to be situated in the east part of the Zaryadye area, and today there is little left of it – a memory in the park buildings and a high position of the Saint George Church. Rich history of this district of Moscow yielded a lot of images for the creation of an installation: at different times, this place was a commercial and a residential area, a Jewish ghetto, and an English estate. Then all of the buildings were taken down to make room for the construction of the eighth Stalin high-rise, and this was the time when the mount disappeared – the terrain was leveled out.
Ekaterina Sporykhina, an architect of Wowhaus, who had to replace one of her interns on this project, decided to recreate in her installation the “Rossiya” hotel on a 1:10 scale in order to remind about this undisputed milestone in the development not only of the Pskovskaya Mount but of the whole city as well. The light wooden installation of thin planks accurately repeats the dimensions and the structure of the torn-down hotel with a large inner yard and a tower in the middle. The author even kept up the hotel function of the project, organizing inside something in the way of hotel rooms with hammocks and soft poufs.
Wowhaus takes in new interns several times a year, make sure to follow the updates and announcements.