In the project of the settlement with a telltale name of “Rafinad” (which literally translates as "Sugar Cubes"), located in the Khimki district of the Moscow area, PANACOM architects came up with the kind of housing that is versatile, human-friendly, and comfortable.
Written by: Lara Kopylova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The task was to take the allotted 12 hectares and stuff them with as many apartments and parking places as possible, or, as the founder and chief architect of PANACOM, Arseniy Leonovich puts it, “sew seven hats from a small piece of sheepskin”. And the architects were able to do just that, proposing diverse façade designs and apartment layouts, designing various infrastructure projects, a bridge over the river, and a community center, combining human-friendly territory organization with art objects and a fitness promenade. The overall result is an exquisite project, its style probably best described as elegant retro modernism of the “pre-Strelka” epoch. There is no system of city blocks or streets here, the buildings being positioned in accordance with what might be called “seaside resort” principle amidst groves and meadows – which at once puts one in the relaxed kind of mood.
The traditional evening glass of kefir
Svistukha is a place remarkable in itself. One can still see the remains of the Stalin-era health resort here, almost exactly the kind that you will see in the “Volga-Volga” classic black-and-white Soviet movie – it feels as though the next minute you will see the characters in white pajamas sitting on the verandas of this health resort enjoying their evening glass of kefir.
As for the trees that were already there on the site, the architects tried to keep most of them intact, although they did not have much hope that all of these trees would survive the construction process. Not far away from “Rafinad”, there is a village named Trakhoneevo. Back in the day, it belonged to a son of the Greek Trachaniot who came to Russia in 1472 with the bride of Ivan the 3rd, Sophia Paleolog (Greek: Ζωή Σοφία Παλαιολογίνα).
The signature fish figures as homage to the Gio Ponti Tower
Six fish-shaped houses are aligned along the riverside; still a little further on, there are five doubled towers and four blocks consisting of three towers each. All these buildings are human-proportionate, 7-8 stories tall. The apartments have terraces in them, while the “fish” buildings sport penthouses with green roofs. The architects were able to design these attributes of luxury as being quite budget-friendly – the anticipated cost of one square meter is 65 thousand rubles. But then again, the project has not been implemented yet, and the developer is putting the price on hold. The independently standing “fish” houses are PANACOM’s trademark technique running from one project to another. This form was partially inspired by the cutaway corners of the glass Gio Ponti Tower next to the Milano Centrale Railway Station. In actuality, however, things are still more complex than that. This type of layout is a favorite with PANACOM architects: the central staircase nucleus and apartments grouped around it. The architects developed this type of floor plan a few years ago, and since then it was implemented in a number of projects with different numbers of apartments. “This type of planning, one with a staircase in the middle and a short corridor, is extremely advantageous for future investment” – Arseniy Leonovich says .
Sugar cubes on a green meadow
The client took a long time coming up with the right name for the project. “At first, we tried to put an interesting spin on the form of the land site and find natural associations – Arseniy Leonovich shares – We also recommended to maybe pay attention to the architecture of the buildings: our white cubical houses do look like sugar cubes. This is how the name of “Rafinad” came about. This name very accurately conveys the image: white cubes on green meadows. When you see the pristine design of the façades dominated by horizontals, the avant-garde glass corners, the white sunken-in lower tier, thanks to which the buildings look as though they were hovering in the air, you think of the early romantic modernism.
Landscaping and art objects
The clusters of houses are organized around their own recreational areas: five clustered houses around one, three – around another, each house having a territory of its own. The parking lots are placed around the edges of the settlement, so as to free the “meadow” yards from vehicles. The landscaping idea is based on curvilinear shapes, which enhances the “seaside resort” effect: among the trees and shrubs, there run pedestrian boardwalks and bicycle trails. The pedestrian bridge thrown over the river leads to the school with a sports field. The individuality of the spaces is enhanced by art objects placed in each recreational zone. The waterfront is equipped with a fashionable glass railing, and there is a sports promenade running alongside the river.
French windows and grass roofs
The authors did everything they could to diversify and humanize the living environment, the façades, and the layouts. Different options for wall covering were invented: from stucco applied upon the heating agent to Russian-made brick and wood imitating panels. The “fish” houses are more expensive; they overlook the river. The studios have stanza balconies, while the two and three room apartments have terraces with great views, both of them – with glass railings. Terraces are essentially a luxury in the Russian conditions, and the very fact of their presence in a comfort-class housing project is a great tendency, of which one could only wish to spread more.
The result is a great “intelligent” project very much in the spirit of housing projects of the Northern Europe with great human-friendly spaces, comfortable housing density, and a reasonable price achieved at the expense of a lot of intellectual and creative effort.
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.