Prepared by Sergey Kiselev and Partners, the concept of developing a 150-hectare chunk of land at the outskirts of Orenburg has at least two major string points: the presence of a fair number of what usually is considered to be the components of a comfortable city and the absence of any overly “marketing” techniques – in other words, the project is realistic to the bone.
Written by: Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
07 May 2018
Designed by Sergey Kiselev and Partners in 2016, the concept of a housing complex situated at the western outskirts of Orenburg, in terms of format resembles the pilot renovation projects and competition projects for new mass housing construction organized by the Housing Mortgage Lending Agency – the former resemble the project in question by the size of their land site (over a 100 hectares), and the latter – by the moderate number of five to seven floors that matches exactly the height restrictions proposed by KB Strelka. But then again, this project was prepared a year earlier, and it formally has nothing to do with the newly developed principles, albeit it is based on a similar approach.
“In Orenburg, the modern construction is represented by rather traditional-looking 17-20 story houses that remind the soviet building style of the perestroika period – explains the head of Sergey Kiselev and Partners, Igor Schwartzman – It feels like this mass of housing should be numerically enough to cover the needs of the city. And the investment company “Orenburgstroy” also has a few projects of this kind. The competition between the developers is stuck in a rut; everything goes by the rules that were formed along the way. They only compete in small details like the color of the façade, and that’s pretty much it.
Our client had this idea to try and compete in a different field by introducing a new product. This is how the task was born for designing low-rise buildings combined with a comfortable living environment – both in the yards and on the outside. A special stress was laid on the façades: they were to be reserved yet diverse, and at the same time systematic and inexpensive”.
The territory 150 hectares in size – half again as large as that of the new pilot renovation projects – borders on its west on the Zagorodnoe Highway, which basically serves the function of the ring road for Orenburg. Formally, the city territory stretches 14 kilometers further westward but it is not developed in any way and is occupied by meadows and plains (forests are scarce in these parts) with an odd dacha house here and there. It is a typical green field – even the secondary roads are only being designed here for the most part; they will appear simultaneously with the new housing complex.
Based on the terrain survey, the authors first of all paid their attention to a ravine that traversed the territory diagonally from southeast to northwest. The ravine becomes the axis of the park promenade that becomes the main public area of the district, strictly vehicle-free. At the very start of it, the architects were able to find a place for a church, on the topmost spot. Behind it, there is a square, and still further on, there is a chain of manmade creeks flowing down the terrain from south to north; some geoplastics for the sake of variety. “We were surveying this land, and, standing next to the north junction of the Zagorodnoe Highway, we saw this drainage pipe that was meant to route the water out of the ravine – shares the chief architect of the project, Anastasia Khomyakova – There is no river flowing here, so, we decided that an extra reservoir would add to the promenade’s variety and beauty”.
The park is traversed by two automotive roads, one of them going through a bridge. This bridge creates an extra spacial intrigue, at the same time allowing the cars to traverse the boulevard without intruding into the pedestrian zone. The park promenade is situated rather far away from the main and the busiest Zagorodnoe Highway, which must make this place peaceful and meditative. The main park is augmented by a few other parks of a smaller size that are situated between the city blocks and yet another promenade (also of a smaller size) running from north to south. There is also a bicycle road running along the perimeter of the complex.
From the side of the highway, the architects designed a “buffer zone” consisting of retail stores catering for both the residents of the new neighborhood and the nearest city houses across the highway. The main accent of this pragmatic public area must be the sports center with an adjacent stadium – the authors proposed to place it in the north corner of the neighborhood, next to the junction. The transport layout provides several accessibility levels: the role of the main city artery is allotted to the highway; it is then joined by a semicircle of broad streets that frame the neighborhood and connect the north and south junctions. Two streets separate the residential buildings from the retail area next to the highway and provide a convenient driving access to the stores. The whole territory is permeated by more narrow capillaries: they surround the city blocks and connect them to one another. All of the parking lots are overland, situated along the drives between the blocks, plus, there are a few peripheral parking lots. The infrastructure of the neighborhood consists of 7 kindergartens, 3 schools, one “school of fine arts”, and 3 sports areas with hockey fields.
The houses themselves are 29 city blocks from 4 to 7 stories high. All of the yards are vehicle-free, closed in order to ensure the protection from the Orenburg winds: for this specific reason, the narrow slits between the houses are never situated one exactly opposite the other. The main entrances are situated on the outside but the hallways can be entered from the inside as well. The residents of the bottom floors are getting little gardens beneath their windows, while the retail stores are grouped closer to the highway.
The houses are of different height: closer to the edges and corners they are seven stories high, and closer to the center the number of floors incrementally decreases down to four – the height changes smoothly but steadily, the projections and indentations alternating in order to fight the visual monotony and create an impression of a big city.
There are neither multilevel nor underground parking garages here: this was the client’s decision; the parking lots are distributed over the contours of the houses, and a few more large ones are situated closer to the public zones.
The client, the company “Orenburgstroy”, owns a concrete goods factory of its own with a small affiliated project institute. The factory manufacturers the panels, out of which the bearing framework of the housing complex will be assembled – this is why the layouts and the proportions of the future complex are based on the panel module and the construction set that springs from it. This, specifically, accounts for the unconventional height of the floor – 2.86 meters and the bearing wall space grid of 3.3 meters.
Meanwhile, the architects were still able to do some creative work on the layouts of the chiefly small-sized apartments within the framework of the set proportions: among other things, they were able to avoid the “window to window” effect at the corners of the blocks, but, refraining on the south façades from the traditional technique “communication nucleus in the corner”, they were able to shift the stairway and get more sunlight for the residential rooms.
In accordance with the trends of the market, the apartments are rather small, about half of them are single-room ones but three-room apartments constitute about 15% of the total amount; there are even a few layouts with two bathrooms. All of the buildings are equipped with elevators, including the four-story sections.
While the construction panels will be manufactured at the local factory, the façade, according to the architects’ proposal, will be made of Sembrit, a kind of mass-colored fiber concrete. The façade design is based on a single technique: the staircase and elevator units are dark-gray, and the other walls are lighter, with inclusions of Sembrit that “sliced” in thin stripes and laid in an overlapping fashion, like colored wooden boards. The color also allows the architects to mark the houses and helps with the navigation, the fact that the material is mass-colored (or “bulk-tinted”) holding a promise of a longer service life. “We use the same kind of panels in the rainbow-colored “pixel” house “Avangard” on the Novocheremushkinskaya Ulitsa – Anastasia Khomyakova reminisces – And they haven’t lost any of their color since 2006”. All of the stanzas are glazed; the air conditioning units are hidden in special casings.
The possibilities that low-rise construction yields, its pluses and minuses, are widely discussed against the background of Moscow (and not only Moscow!) “anthills” of housing complexes. In addition, over the last few years, the design standards have grown significantly more demanding and complex; a whole “ABC” of comfortable housing techniques had formed. It’s easy to see that this project, developed in 2016, does have a lot of items from such “101 kit”. Possibly, it lacks some of the fashionable glitter or marketing details like super-state-of-the-art playgrounds, pitched roofs, roof terraces, two-level apartments and other elements that are meant to create a “wow” effect for the complex that will never be ultimately implemented.
In this instance – and the architects stress that – the projects was made in rigorous accordance with the client’s specifications, for whom it is the first experience of low-rise housing construction in Orenburg, and whose goal it is to understand just how well these apartments would sell, and how fast the complex will be built. The budget constraints were rather tight and no marketing twists were intended from the start. We will remind you here that the architects of Sergey Kiselev and Partners only worked on the concept that the client is planning to implement by the power of his concrete goods factory, and do that gradually, by degrees, maybe not even by quarters but by sections. Meanwhile, nonetheless, the complex does have a lot of up-to-date elements, such as little gardens beneath the windows of the bottom floors. The houses are standing not too densely; the architects were able to avoid the typical drawbacks of the city block planning, such as ineffective corners, at the same time keeping its advantages: weather protection and vehicle-free yards. Although the project is essentially devoid of any “flashy” details, one can see the style of the architects that did take the trouble of delving into the details of the future projects on all of its levels.
At the same time, the main charm of the project lies in its “reality” and in the happy medium that the architects found between the economy and delivering the necessary factors for comfort. The project is well-balanced and just asking to be implemented – and this is just the kind of example that we need for making the dream of “new format of urban spaces” come true.
The Other Way Around
Few awards instead of many, the award ceremony conducted on the first day instead of last, projections instead of sketch boards, trees inside and art objects outside – the renewal of the Architecton festival seemingly took the sure-fire path of turning all the professional traditions upside down – or at least those that happened to be within the scope of the organizers’ attention. There’s certainly a lot to pick on, but the exhibition does feel fresh and improvisational. It looks that pretty soon these guys will set trends for Moscow as well. We shared with you about some elements of the festival in our Telegram channel, and now we are examining the whole thing.
The Chinese Symphony
The construction of the Chinese center “Huaming Park” has been a long story that came to fruition relatively recently. The building is adjacent to a traditional Chinese garden, but it is very modern, laconic and technological, and the simple-in-form, yet spectacular, white lamellae promise to someday be incorporated as a media facade. This complex is also truly multifunctional: it contains different types of living spaces, offices, a large fitness center, conference halls and restaurants – all wrapped in one volume. You can comfortably hold international forums in it, having everything you may possibly need at your fingertips, and going outside only to take a walk. In this article, we are examining this complex in detail.
Ensemble of Individualities
Construction of the first phase of the INDY Towers multifunctional complex on Kuusinen Street, designed by Ostozhenka, has started. The project opens new angles of similarity between the column and the skyscraper, and we examine the nuances and parallels.
Black and Red
Kazakov Grand Loft received its name for a reason: responding to the client’s brief and proceeding from the historical industrial architecture of its immediate surroundings, Valery Kanyashin and Ostozhenka architects proposed a new version of a modern house designed in the fashionable “loft” style. What makes this building different is the fact that the bricks here are dark gray, and the facades of the romantic “fortress” towers blossom with magnificent glazing of the windows in the upper part. The main highlight of the complex, however, is the multiple open air terraces situated on different levels.
Mezonproject has won the national architectural and town planning competition for designing a hotel and a water recreation center in the city of Irkutsk. The architects chose hummocks of Baikal ice as a visual image.
The Mastery of Counterpoint
In the sculpture of Classical Greece, counterpoint was first invented: the ability to position the human body as if it were about to take a step, imbuing it with a hint of the energy of future movement, and with hidden dynamics. For architecture, especially in the 20th century and now, this is also one of the main techniques, and the ATRIUM architects implement it diligently, consistently – and always slightly differently. The new residential complex “Richard” is a good example of such exploration, based on the understanding of contrasts in the urban environment, which was fused into the semblance of a living being.
The project of the museum of Aleksey Gastev, the ideologist of scientific organization of work, located in his hometown of Suzdal, is inscribed in multiple contexts: the contest of a small town, the context of avant-garde design, the context of “lean production”, and the context of the creative quest of Nikolai Lyzlov’s minimalist architecture – and it seems to us that this project even reveals a distant memory of the fact that Aleksey Gastev learned his craft in France.
In memory of Jean-Louis Cohen
Marina Khrustaleva – about Jean-Louis Cohen (20.07.1949-7.08.2023), French architect and architectural historian that specialized in modern architecture and city planning.
On the Hills
In the project by Studio 44, the “distributed” IT campus of Nizhny Novgorod is based on well-balanced contracts. Sometimes it is hovering, sometimes undulating, sometimes towering over a rock. For every task, the architects found appropriate form and logic: the hotels are based on a square module, the academic buildings are based on a “flying” one, and so on. Modernist prototypes, specifically, Convent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, stand next to references to the antique Forum and the tower of a medieval university – as well as next to contextual allusions that help inscribe the buildings of the future campus into the landscape of the city hills with their dominants, high slopes, breathtaking river views, the historical city center, and the Nizhny Novgorod University.
The Magic Carpet
The anniversary exhibition of Totan Kuzembaev’s drawings named “Event Horizons” shows both very old drawings made by the architect in the formative 1980’s, and now extracted from the Museum of Architecture, as well as quite a few pictures from the “Weightlessness” series that Totan Kuzembaev drew specifically for this exhibition in 2023. It seemed to us that the architect represented reality from the point of view of someone levitating in space, and sometimes even upside down, like a magic carpet with multiple layers.
A Copper Step
Block 5, designed by ASADOV architects as part of the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex, is at the same time grand-scale, conspicuous thanks to its central location – and contextual. It does not “outshout” the solutions used in the neighboring buildings, but rather gives a very balanced implementation of the design code: combining brick and metal in light and dark shades and large copper surfaces, orthogonal geometry on the outside and flexible lines in the courtyard.
The Light for the Island
For the first time around, we are examining a lighting project designed for a housing complex; but then again, the authors of the nighttime lighting of the Ostrov housing complex, UNK lighting, proudly admit that this project is not just the largest in their portfolio, but also the largest in this country. They describe their approach as a European one, its chief principles being smoothness of transitions, comfort to the eye, and the concentration of most of the light at the “bottom” level – meaning, it “works” first of all for pedestrians.
Spots of Light
A new housing complex in Tyumen designed by Aukett Swanke is a very eye-pleasing example of mid-rise construction: using simple means of architectural expression, such as stucco, pitched roofs, and height changes, the architects achieve a “human-friendly” environment, which becomes a significant addition to the nearby park and forest.
Ledges and Swirls
The housing complex “Novaya Zarya” (“New Dawn”) designed by ASADOV Architects will become one of the examples of integrated land development in Vladivostok. The residential area will be characterized by various typologies of its housing sections, and a multitude of functions – in addition to the social infrastructure, the complex will include pedestrian promenades, shopping malls, office buildings, and recreational facilities. The complex is “inscribed” in a relief with a whopping 40-meter height difference, and overlooks the Amur Bay.
Agglomeration on an Island
Recently, an approval came for the master plan of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration, which was developed by a consortium headed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow. The document provides for the creation of 12 clusters, the totality of which will give the region a qualitative leap in development and make the island more self-sufficient, more accessible, and less dependent on the mainland. We are inviting you to examine the details.
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In this article, we are talking to Ivan Grekov, the leader of the architectural company KAMEN (translates as “stone”), the author of many high-profile projects that have been built in Moscow in the recent years, about the history of his company, about different approaches to form making, about different meanings of volume and facade, and about “layers” in working with the environment – at the example of two projects by Osnova Group. These are the MIRAPOLIS complex on the Mira Avenue in Rostokino, whose construction began at the end of last year, and the multifunctional complex in the 2nd Silikatny Proezd on the Zvenigorodsky Highway; recently, it received all the required approvals.
Grasping and Formulating
The special project “Tezisy” (“Abstracts”), showcased at Arch Moscow exhibition in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, brought together eight young “rock stars of architecture”, the headliner being Vladislav Kirpichev, founder of the EDAS school. In this article, we share our impressions of the installations and the perspectives of the new generation of architects.
The White Tulip
Currently, there are two relevant projects for the Great Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, which was transferred to a land site in Admiralteiskaya Sloboda in February. One of them, designed by TsLP, was recently showcased at Arch Moscow. In this article, we are covering another project, which was proposed during the same period for the same land site. Its author is Aleksey Ginzburg, the winner of the 2022 competition, but now the project is completely different. Today, it is a sculptural “flower” dome symbolizing a white tulip.
The architectural company ATRIUM opened a gallery of its own in a metaverse. Inside, one can examine the company’s approach and main achievements, as well as get some emotional experience. The gallery is already hosting cyberspace business meetings and corporate events.
From Darkness to Light
Responding to a lengthy list of limitations and a lengthy – by the standards of a small building – list of functions, Vladimir Plotkin turned the project of the Novodevichy Monastery into a light, yet dynamic statement of modern interpretation of historical context, or, perhaps, even interpretation of light and darkness.
Modernism in Avant-Garde
The contest proposal that Studio 44 made for the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater is bright in all senses, and in many ways even provocative – just like a modern theater performance should be. Being in context with modern culture, it even shocks you in some respects. At first, you are amazed at the red color that is present all around, and then you gradually make sense of the picturesque congregation of volumes that share a multitude of functions. And it’s only later that you realize that this conglomerate conceals a modernist building, most of which the architects save intact.
The Black Mountain
The project of reconstructing the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet theater developed by Wowhaus, which won the competition, proposed a total demolition and new construction, as well as considerable expansion (up to 8 floors) – and transformable multifunctional spaces. The new project, however, does retain the recognizable elements and the image of the old theater. As for the main spectator hall, it is turned – figuratively speaking, of course – into a semblance of a black volcano.
Recently, Moscow saw the presentation of a project by Yuri Grigoryan, devoted to turning the truck garage on Novoryazanskaya Street, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, into the Museum of Moscow Transport. The project involves restoring the monument of architecture, adding a new underground floor and a new entrance, as well as a whole park. The implementation is already underway.
Houses by the Lakeside
Approvals came for the project of a housing complex that DNK ag designed in Kazan. The complex is low-rise; its sections are designed as separate volumes united by a common podium. Everything is very much like DNK: delicate and sometimes even lyrical, especially where the yard meets the lakeshore.
In Novosibirsk, the construction of a school has been completed, whose project is standing every chance to set a new standard for the nation’s educational institutions. SVESMI Architects and Brusnika company started by developing the brief that would answer the modern teaching practices, and then they proposed the optimum plan, versatile classrooms, and reserved, yet expressive, image in the spirit of this Amsterdam alliance.
An 800-room hotel complex, designed by Ginzburg Architects, offers the seaside city of Anapa a fragment of well-organized urban environment that keeps up the cultural spirit of the place. The architects break away from traditional white facades, turning to the antique and even archaic periods of the history of this land, and drawing inspiration in the color of red clay and simple, yet lightweight, shapes.
In Plumage Colors
Working on the facades of a mid-rise residential area in Odintsovsky district, GENPRO architects “adjusted” a number of features of the volumetric composition, which they received without the right to make any changes to, by purely “decorative” means, such as ornamental brickwork, including glazed bricks and the rhythm of the windows. Interestingly, the starting point in the search for the color code was the plumage of birds that are found in the Moscow region.
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One of the largest housing projects of today’s Moscow – the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex built by Donstroy – is now being actively built in the Mnevniky Floodplain. They are planning to build about 1.5M square meters of housing on an area of almost 40 hectares. We are beginning to examine this project– first of all, we are talking to Julius Borisov, the head of the architectural company UNK, which works with most of the residential blocks in this grand-scale project, as well as with the landscaping part; the company even proposed a single design code for the entire territory.
A Balanced Solution
The residential complex “Balance” on Moscow’s Ryazansky Prospekt is one of the large-scale, and relatively economical (again, by Moscow standards) housing projects. Its first phase has already been built and landscaped; the work on the others is in progress. Nevertheless, it has an integral internal logic, which is based on the balance of functions, height, and even image and space composition. The proposed solutions are recognizable and laconic, so that each of them was reduced by the authors to a graphic “logo”. To see everything, you have to flip through the pages and look through to the end.
In the city of Omsk, ASADOV architects took on a very challenging task: they are developing a concept of a public and residential complex, which involves reconstructing the city’s first thermal power station standing right next to Omsk’s first fortress. This territory has already seen a lot of projects designed for it, and the residential function of this land site has been the subject of heated debate. In this article, we are examining the project in question, aimed at developing a mid-scale city fabric suited for the historical center. We also examine the above-mentioned debate. Seriously, will this project save this place or will it bring it to ruin?