​A Typical Anomaly

An unusual-looking façade of glass lamellae brought the Ostozhenka project of a business center located just inside the Garden Ring a well-deserved victory at ArchGlass 2018.

Elena Petukhova

Written by:
Elena Petukhova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

11 July 2018

The history of the project of the business center that completes the perimeter of the triangular city block lying between the Sadovaya-Spasskaya and Myasnitskaya streets, and a namesake drive, could be called a typical case for the Moscow design project practice, had it not been for a number of anomalous circumstances. Due to the fact that the block borders on one of the nation’s capital main thoroughfares, the value of the land site, which could host the “golden” offices for rent, turned out to be too high to give it away for a park to be made here. This is how a 0.02-hectare land site, anomalous in its size and potential, came about. In 2014, the company “Vector” bought it out from the Moscow government, and ordered a project from the studio of Sergey Tkachenko in “Mosproject-5”, which designed a rectangular five-story building 24.4 meters high with a couple of underground parking garage levels equipped with an automated parking management system. However, the façade design options, radical both in color and context, with textured stone coating, were not approved by the city’s architectural council. The developer then turned to the firm “Ostozhenka” with a task of improving the project.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The facade along the Sadovo-Spasskaya street. Night view © Ostozhenka
Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Location plan.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The situation and the volume of the future building.

First of all, the architects had to consider the geographical factor. The land site is situated on the inside of the Garden Ring; the main façade of the future building being turned north-northeast. It’s going to be in the shade almost the whole day, the sunshine only falling on it in the morning and in the evening in the early summer, and then only with slanted rays, casting sharp shadows from every protrusion. This peculiarity was not taken into account in the previous versions of the façade, and Andrew Gnezdilov would go to photograph the morning sunshine on the façades of the neighboring houses in order to get the idea of what impact it would have on the future building. 

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Perspective down the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street © Mosproject-5

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The facade along the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street. Sketch by Alexander Skokan © Ostozhenka

Furthermore, one could not ignore the building’s surroundings. Within a 400 meters radius of the building, there are several architectural masterpieces: the Krasnye Vorota high-rise designed by Aleksey Dushkin, the southern pavilion of the “Krasnye Vorota” metro station designed by Nikolai Ladovsky, the Narkozem building designed by Aleksey Shchusev, and, of course, the Tsentrsoyuz building designed by Le Corbusier himself. In their initial sketches, the team of Ostozhenka tried to reflex the motifs of the neighboring architectural monuments, using similar materials and colors, but they soon came to a conclusion that the very approach to designing the image of this “strange” building was ill-chosen. According to Alexander Skokan, “...it was a mistake to attempt to design a normal building on this abnormal land site, much more drawing for it a façade that a normal house would have had. The site and the house itself are so narrow that they look more like a stage prop presenting a house. Therefore, it was necessary to come up with some sort of a decorative technique for the façade”.

This is how the idea of a screen came about that separates the outside world, with its streaming traffic of cars tearing down the highway and the seemingly endless pedestrian flow, from the inside peaceful existence of the future office. This coexistence of the isolated type, with a presence effect but not with the windows thrown wide, found its reflection in the image of a “curtain”, which covers the inside world yet does not separate it from the outside world completely, giving the users of the future buildings an opportunity to adjust the degree of interaction with it.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The facade along the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street. Sketch by Alexander Skokan © Ostozhenka

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The facade along the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street © Ostozhenka

The effect of a living surface that is highly sensitive to the change of viewing angle (looking very much like a theater curtain) was only achieved when the architects used a double glass façade system with warm inside stained glass and an outside structure of firmly fastened lamellae that, on the one hand, fence off the interior from being watched from the outside, and, on the other hand, at a certain angle, make it possible to look outside practically unhindered. Furthermore, the lamellae gave the architects an opportunity to arrange visual connections, placing the panels at different angles. Just like a fan, the lamellae turn to and fro in order to open up more advantageous views of the surrounding cityscape and the most beautiful buildings from among the neighboring masterpieces.

The lamellae are grouped into six horizontal bands. What is interesting is the fact that at some places they unite several levels, while at some places, on the other hand, the overall rhythm is suddenly broken, and a row that is oriented in the opposite direction is formed. This way, it looks as if the façade was “tousled” with some of its lamellae gazing “against the grain”. As a result, one will have a hard time trying to make out at a first glance the principle that governs the fracturing of the bands, as well as the exact number of floors hidden behind the undulating curtain.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. A fragment of the designed facade © Ostozhenka

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. A fragment of the designed facade © Ostozhenka

As their lamellae material, the Ostozhenka architects chose the “Satinat” glass treated by chemical etching. While not exactly translucent, it still conducts enough of ambient light, both in the daytime inside the building and in the evening (when the lights are on) outside of the building making it look like a glowing treasure chest.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Perception of the screen from various vantage points © Ostozhenka

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Sketches by Alexander Skokan © Ostozhenka

The likeness to a theater curtain is strengthened even more thanks to a diagonally slanted lower edge of the outside façade. Its cutaway echoes the diagonal of the cantilevered protrusion overhanging above the entrance to the automated parking garage. In the previous version of the project, the authors designed this driveway entrance as being framed by columns – but the Ostozhenka architects proposed a more tectonic-friendly solution, which was also more efficient in terms of the operation of the bearing walls: with a cantilevered structure overhanging above the driveway. Thanks to this solution, the load is not relayed to the outside perimeter of the land site adjacent to the firewall of the neighboring building, which means that there is no risk of damaging the neighbor’s foundation.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Plans of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th floors. Section views 1-1 © Ostozhenka

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Photo montage in the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street © Ostozhenka

Developed by Ostozhenka, the new version of the project (which, in addition to the façades, includes a number of engineering and construction improvements) successfully got all the appropriate approvals from the Architectural Council in August 2017. The solutions proposed by the architects not only answered all the questions that were set forth by the challenging land site but also gave an opportunity for taking these ideas to a whole new level at the stage of operational design. However, how the project will get along and whether it will be possible to preserve the original artistic vision is something that the authors of the approved concept cannot say for sure.

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. The yard facade © Ostozhenka

Administrative and business building in the Myasnitsky Drive. Photo montage in the Sadovo-Spasskaya Street © Ostozhenka

11 July 2018

Elena Petukhova

Written by:

Elena Petukhova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​Dialectical Manifesto
The high-rise housing complex MOD, whose construction has begun in Moscow’s district of Maryina Roshcha next to the site, on which the new Russian Railways headquarters will be built, is responding to the “central” context of the future city surroundings, and at the same time is positioned by the architects as a “manifesto of Modernist minimalist principles in architecture”.
​Near-Earth Space
The new terminal of the Leonov Airport in Kemerovo was built in record-breaking time, despite the pandemic. It became one of the important factors for the rapid development of the city, visually reflecting its dedication to the first spacewalk, both in the interiors and on the facades. Its main features are the “starry sky” effect and overall openness.
​Kasimir from Kemerovo
The project of the branch of the Russian Museum for the Siberian Art Cluster is based on the ideas of Suprematism: basic shapes, and dynamism of color and form.
​Stream and Lines
Stepan Liphart’s projects of Art Deco villas demonstrate technical symbolism in combination with a subtle reference to the 1930s. One of the projects is a “paper” one; the others are designed for real customers: a top manager, an art collector, and a developer.
​The Strategy of Transformation
In this article, we are publishing eight projects of reconstructing postwar Modernist buildings that have been implemented by Tchoban Voss Architekten and showcased in the AEDES gallery at the recent Re-Use exhibition. Parallel to that, we are meditating on the demonstrated approaches and the preservation of things that architectural legislation does not require to preserve.
In the Rhythm of Block Construction
Last week, the housing complex “Ty i Ya” (“You and Me”) was presented, built in the northwest of Moscow. By a number of parameters, it exceeds the originally stated comfort-class format, and, on the other hand, fully meeting the city block construction paradigm, popular in Moscow, demonstrates a few interesting features, such as a new kind of public spaces for the residents, and high-ceilinged apartments on the first floors.
​Five Nonlinear Ones
Recently, at the Moscow Urban Forum, they announced a large-scale project that Zaha Hadid Architects would do for Moscow – the multifunctional housing complex Union Towers designed for Quarter 82 of Khoroshevo-Mnevniki at the commission of KROST development.
​Etudes in Glass
The housing complex, located not far away from the Paveletskaya Railway Station, as a symbol of a sweeping transformation of this area: a composition of towers of different height, ingenious detailing of stained glass windows, and a green lawn in the yard.
A Flyover in Watercolor
For the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Vasilkovsky, the architectural office of Evgeny Gerasimov is reflecting on the Ushakov Flyover, which was designed with input from this artist and architect. In this article, we are showing its watercolors and sketches, including the preliminary ones that were not included in the final project, as well as speaking about the importance of architectural drawing.
​Walking on Clouds
A restaurant in the Khibiny skiing complex: 820 meters above the sea level, sweeping views, a levitation effect, and ingenious engineering solutions.
​Transformation with Multiplication
The Palace of Water Sports in Luzhniki is one of the high-profile and nontrivial reconstructions of recent years, and a project that won one of the first competitions, initiated by Sergey Kuznetsov as the main architect of Moscow. The complex opened 2 years ago; this article about it comes out at the start of the bathing season.
​Sergey Tchoban: “I believe it’s very important to preserve this city as a record...
Although originally we planned to speak in this interview with Sergey Tchoban about high-rise construction, the conversation turned out to be 70% about meditation on the ways of regenerating the historical city and about the role of the city fabric as the most objective and unbiased historical record. And, as for the towers, which manifest social contrasts and leave a lot of junk when torn down, the conversation was about the expected construction norms and regulations. We took this interview one day before the Lakhta-2 project was announced, and this is why this newsbreak is not commented upon in any way in this article.
​Courtyards and Constructivism
In this issue, we are examining the second major block of the “city within a city” Ligovsky City complex, designed and built by A-Len, and combining several trends characteristic of modern urban architecture.
​Inside of a Drawn Grid
Designing the apartment complex PLAY in Danilovskaya Sloboda, ADM architects placed their bet on the imagery of construction. The area where it manifested itself the most vividly was the sophisticated grid of the facades.
​Headquarters of the Future
The project by “Arena Group”, which won in an open competition of ideas for the headquarters of the Italian company FITT, combines futuristic forms, an interesting set of functions, energy efficiency, and subtle references to the archetypes of Italian architecture. Particularly beautiful is the “continuous” fountain. In this issue, we are sharing about the three winners of the competition.
​A Tiered Composition
A little bit of New York in Odessa: an apartment complex designed and built by “Archimatika” with towers, townhouses, a square, and swimming pools.
​The Yard Aesthetics
Organizing the yard of a premium-class housing complex, GAFA architects took care not just about the image that matches the project’s high status, but also about simple human joys, masterfully overcoming the construction regulations.
​MasterMind: a Neural Network for Developers and Architects
Created by Genpro, this software allows you to generate within half an hour dozens of development and construction options in accordance with the set parameters. At the same time, however, being more focused on the technical aspects, the program does not exclude creative work, and can be used by architects for preparing projects with a subsequent data export to AutoCAD, Revit, and ArchiCAD.
This Beetle Has Flown
The story of designing a business center in the Zhukov (“Beetle”) Drive: a number of attempts to preserve a hundred-year-old cold storage facility, at the same time introducing modern buildings interpreting the industrial theme. The project remained on paper, but the story behind it seems to be worth our attention.
​The Childhood Territory
The project of the educational complex within the second stage of “Spanish Quarters” was developed by ASADOV Architects. The project is all about creating a friendly and transparent environment that in itself educates and forms the personality of a child.
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.
Sergey Skuratov: “A skyscraper is a balance of technology, economic performance, and aesthetic...
In March, two buildings of the Capital Towers complex were built up to a 300-meter elevation mark. In this issue, we are speaking to the creator of Moscow’s cutting-edge skyscrapers: about heights and proportions, technologies and economics, laconicism and beauty of superslim houses, and about the boldest architectural proposal of recent years – the Le Corbusier Tower above the Tsentrosoyuz building.
​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.
​The Uplifting Effect
The project of Ostankino Business Park was developed for the land site lying between two metro stations (one operating and the other in construction), and because of that its public space is designed to equally cater for the city people and the office workers. The complex stands every chance of becoming the catalyst for development of the Butyrsky area.
​Binary Opposition
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.